Four Lads from Britain who Changed Magazines Forever

They were four lads from the UK — scrappy, charismatic, a bit odd, and dogged in their creative instincts. And they changed the face of their industry forever.

No, we aren’t talking about those lads from Liverpool. We are talking about four scions of UK publishing who changed the face of magazine publishing round the world.

“Let’s be nostalgic,” says Colin Morrison in a recent podcast on Flashes & Flames. “Magazines were once the most innovative, dynamic medium. For 40 years, they enjoyed the tailwind of falling costs and barriers to entry, and growing consumer demand and advertising revenue. In the US, UK, Australia and many other countries, 1960-2000 was boomtime for a magazine industry bursting with choice, colour, daring thoughts, and fresh ideas.

“They were the blissful years before the internet diverted readers and advertisers, and shredded publishing profits,” Morrison continues. “They were also the years when four oddball Brits made their mark on the magazine market and much else. Not because they were the largest publishers even in the UK (they weren’t) but because they were true innovators in the second-half of The Magazine Century.”

Morrison goes on to give an eye-opening look at these four publishing innovators:

  • Felix Dennis, the late publishing magnate who left behind Dennis Publishing, the empire that included The Week, when he died in 2014;
  • Chris Anderson, the Brit whose interested in publishing was sparked in the ‘80s and parlayed into creating and building TED;
  • Michael Heseltine, the founder of Haymarket Media Group who went on to become a member of Parliament then Deputy Prime Minister before leaving politics and returning to publishing; and
  • Tony Elliott, the drop-out student behind the incredibly popular Time Out phenomenon, who died this summer.

The podcast gives a fascinating look into the personal foibles and quirks behind these four men, and how they leveraged everything they had… each in their own way… into their work. It’s people like this who remind me of the sheer possibilities inherent in publishing. There was no easy road for any of them, only an idea and a focus on how to grow it.

Give it a listen if you’re looking for a nice dose of inspiration today.