Paul Simpson, launch editor of new TV magazine the Box, is very
much the late 1990s editor. Both the Box and his previous title
FourFourTwo display the irreverent wit and direct style which Loaded
used to break the mould of consumer magazines.
Simpson describes the Box as a ’spin on the TV magazine with big words
in it’ Aimed primarily at the ABC1 males in the 25-44 age bracket he
says it has humour and aims to avoid blandness and appeal to both TV
addicts and selective watchers alike.
’These days people buy magazines with personality,’ he explains. ’It’s
important for an editor to be a brand champion and personify the
On this criterion Simpson would seem to be a good choice as editor. 35
years old, affable and self-deprecating, he also admits to being a ’bit
sad’ about TV with a penchant for cult US sitcoms. He took Four Four Two
from its launch in 1994 to a circulation of 83,000 after just 18
He left on a high after the Euro 96 championships last June.
Like Four Four Two, the Box is trying to create a new market. ’Both
subjects are talked about in pubs and the style has to be savvy,’ he
Should the Box succeed, Simpson will establish a record in editing
innovative consumer titles, a far cry from his first job in journalism
on Cranes Today.
’I applied for an editorial assistant’s position advertised in the
Telegraph and then had to lie when the interviewer asked whether I found
the subject matter interesting,’ says Simpson.
Two years later he moved on to LithoWeek where, over six years, he rose
through the ranks from reporter to editor. ’Everyone else left,’ he
jokes, He did his best to give the title more punch and develop it as a
business magazine, admitting to upsetting a few people in the
Simpson then developed Newspaper Focus, a monthly mix of stories about
newspaper editorial and technology, out of LithoWeek. Newspaper Focus
went on to win the Periodical Publishers Association’s business magazine
of the year award in 1992. But by 1994 Simpson was having
’disagreements’ with his publisher and thinking of going freelance when
he was approached by FourFourTwo publisher Kevin Whitchurch to become
He says: ’I love magazine journalism, particularly as editor where you
can create and shape a title. On a newspaper you’re more of a cog in a
What about TV journalism? ’No I’d look three stone heavier and I don’t
like the sound bite,’ he replies. ’I’ll edit magazines until they give
me a gold watch and push me out the door.’
A self-confessed Yankophile, Simpson’s other passions include Elvis
Presley, US politics and F Scott Fitzgerald. He jokes, I think, that his
ultimate ambition is to edit Elvis Monthly. Simpson hopes the Box can
emulate US magazines’ ability to inform without being dull.
’We’re hoping for a ’slow burn’ in sales, building a passionate
readership through word of mouth,’ he says. ’The plan is to go monthly
Editor, Newspaper Focus
Editor, the Box