Media Profile: The man with the zeitgeist touch - Andy Pemberton, editor, Scene

Andy Pemberton, who has just been appointed editor of Scene, worked with a remarkably high-flying collection of students on the Leeds University newspaper in the late 1980s. His fellow hacks included Select and Deluxe editor Andrew Harrison, Face editor Adam Higginbotham and Guardian media editor Kamal Ahmed. Their paper was nominated for the Guardian Student Newspaper of the Year award in 1989 and the team attended the big night out in force. So fluid were the anticipatory celebrations that when they found out they hadn’t picked up a gong, a fracas ensued with the occupants of a nearby table. The struggle was broken up by the editor of the Exeter University student paper, Dominic Mohan - now the Sun’s Bizarre columnist.

Andy Pemberton, who has just been appointed editor of Scene, worked

with a remarkably high-flying collection of students on the Leeds

University newspaper in the late 1980s. His fellow hacks included Select

and Deluxe editor Andrew Harrison, Face editor Adam Higginbotham and

Guardian media editor Kamal Ahmed. Their paper was nominated for the

Guardian Student Newspaper of the Year award in 1989 and the team

attended the big night out in force. So fluid were the anticipatory

celebrations that when they found out they hadn’t picked up a gong, a

fracas ensued with the occupants of a nearby table. The struggle was

broken up by the editor of the Exeter University student paper, Dominic

Mohan - now the Sun’s Bizarre columnist.



Pemberton is clearly well connected, but it is his obvious ability that

promises much in his new role - taking Scene, published by the

privately-owned Spiro Group, from its current tightly focused fashion

remit and making it into a culture-zine for late 20 to early

30-somethings.



During his time at Mixmag, Pemberton helped take circulation from 28,000

to 100,000, coined the term ’trip hop’ and created the word ’superclub’

to describe the likes of Cream and the Ministry of Sound. And after 18

months of Pemberton, Q’s January edition was its best selling issue

ever, at 380,000 copies.



’Andy is the architect of my favourite feature,’ says Q editor David

Davies. ’He dressed two people up in a pantomime horse costume and took

them to various clubs around the country, asking, ’would you let this

horse into your club?’ He’s a very sharp journalist with a fantastic

turn of phrase and he is one of the best trend-spotters I have ever

met.’



It is this trend-spotting ability that is going to have to come to the

fore at Scene. The magazine is three years old and - as is often the

case with start up independents - has yet to produce official

circulation figures. Scene was originally launched as a trade magazine

for models, but almost two years ago, with the arrival of Pemberton’s

predecessor Deborah Bee, it refocused to address a wider

fashion-conscious audience.



Pemberton’s plans to make it into a ’style bible for grown-ups’ should

take the move into the public domain a step further.



’There are more and more people taking on responsibilities who are still

into what’s hip, hop and happening,’ Pemberton says. ’It needs to be

more thoughtful than the magazines that focus purely on youth culture.’

As part of the redesign, he is introducing travel, arts, music,

technology and film sections as well as extending the magazine’s

coverage across the board.



While he acknowledges that moving from the safe house of Q’s publisher,

Emap, to an independent publisher carries its risks, Pemberton is

blithely cheerful about his prospects. He is certain there are enough

people out there bored with the media’s current frenzy around the same

ten faces of youth culture. If his previous record with pantomime horses

and buzzwords is anything to go by, he should have no trouble coming up

with new ideas.



HIGHLIGHTS

1993

Deputy editor, Mixmag

1997

Associate editor, Q

1999

Editor, Scene



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