I've been a subscriber of The Word since 2003. Forget any other music, arts or entertainment magazine, this was the one that I wanted to read. But sadly now this brilliant magazine created by David Hepworth and Mark Ellen has gone and not only is there a large hole in my month, there is a dark cloud looming for intelligent independent magazines.
Why was this particular mag so good? As columnist Andrew Collins puts it, It was like group therapy: "to know that there are other people out there who think like you do, and voraciously consume telly, films, music and news. It seems impossible today to imagine that there won't be a new podcast next week, or a copy of the magazine after next month's."
He's right. They really did tap into their audience and deliver a magazine where the readers were at the centre of the content. Last week The Guardian said, "Readers reviews appeared in the magazine, their questions were answered on the podcast, there were even Word gigs and events at which readers could meet Word editors and contributors. It was run by humans, for humans."
At the centre of it all was Mark Ellen. Every month, Mark would send subscribers a personal letter and welcome them to the edition, he would pass on some random thoughts in Ellen's diary, and would regularly send readers an email or three about interesting places to go online. He wasn't just an editor of a magazine, he was more like your mate.
It was comforting to learn that the closure made big news. On Twitter, Danny Baker said: "Other than BBC shutting down I cannot think of lousier media news." And GQ editor Dylan Jones described the Word as an "extraordinary magazine" that "will be much missed."
When I heard that The Word was closing, I did something wild and sent Mark Ellen an email telling him how sad I was to hear of the closure and how much I enjoyed the writing. Typical of Mark, It didn't just sit in his inbox. Here is his reply:
"Bless you, John. No magazine lasts forever and we have clearly gone out on a high. Overwhelming outpouring of love and affection on the site and blogs and Twitter, radio eulogies and Radio 4 news, BBC TV news even, lovely pieces in the Times, Independent and Guardian, just had a great email from Elvis Costello. We had a lot of fun doing it for ten years - and ten years publishing a magazine in these tough economic times (with so little advertising) is a triumph. We feel very proud of ourselves. So glad you liked it and wrote to say so - very much appreciated. So kind about our writing. All best, MARK"
John Fountain is a copywriter
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