As the Irish Sun breaks with tradition and scraps page three, UK lads mags are facing an identity crisis with dropping sales and ultimatums from supermarkets.
The editor of the Sun’s Irish edition, Paul Clarkson, today said he wanted to reflect cultural differences in Ireland and was pulling page three from the paper.
The move comes as British lads’ mags face an uncertain future in a row with supermarkets who want them to cover up, with the Co-op stopping sales of certain titles.
Campaigners against Page 3 have welcomed the Irish Sun’s move and remain hopeful that the Sun’s topless tradition’s days could be numbered.
Page 3 is a hugely popular pillar of the Sun in the UK and part of a package of great journalism which engages, entertains and informs in equal measure
Paul Clarkson, Irish Sun editor
Lucy Holmes of the No More Page 3 campaign said: “We’re pleased to hear of this move, it’s a step in the right direction but they still ran a picture of a model straddling something, there are still women displayed as decorations.”
She added that the current battle to get lads’ mags to cover up is a “no-brainer” and warned that newspapers portrayal of women helped shaped the way young people might view internet pornography later in life.
“If you show soft porn in your paper you are telling girls that they’re just sport for men.”
Speaking to the Irish Times, Irish Sun editor Paul Clarkson said “We strive to share the qualities that make the newspaper great in print and digital, but we also strive to cater for our own readers’ needs and reflect the cultural differences in Ireland.”
Clarkson took over as editor last October after a major shake-up of the Irish operation in the wake of a substantial legal settlement with Louis Walsh over false allegations of sexual assault.
In recent weeks the new editor has been taking the paper in a new direction by running pictures of models in swimwear on page three, where topless women were previously displayed.
Clarkson added: “Page 3 is a hugely popular pillar of the Sun in the UK and part of a package of great journalism which engages, entertains and informs in equal measure”.
However, despite the move by the Irish office, down in Wapping David Dinsmore remains steadfast over what he calls a “good way of selling newspapers”.
He dismissed a petition containing over 100,000 signatures as being back by people who “never read the Sun” though on its biggest selling days Saturday and Sunday, the paper contains no page three topless model.
Last week it was announced that Tesco would only sell lads mags to over 18s and struck a “modesty deal” to tone down sexualised image of women on covers.
Zoo and Nuts will be boycotting the Co-operative after the supermarket chain demanded the publications were put in “modesty bags” to stop children seeing their front pages.
The modesty covers are only a half measure, we are asking supermarkets to stop selling these harmful and degrading magazines
Sophie Bennett, Lose the Lads’ Mags
Head of Nuts publisher IPC Media, Paul Williams, has hit out, claiming: “It is a question of how far you can restrict the public’s ability to consume free and legal media before it becomes censorship”.
But readers are also voting with their feet, and circulation for lads’ mags continues to drop as users turn to online content, last February Nuts fell by 11 per cent to a weekly circulation of just 80,186 while Zoo was at just 44,068.
Sophie Bennett, a campaigner with Lose the Lads Mags told Channel 4 News she welcomes the move by the Irish Sun saying it is a “great day for protecting women from harm”.
She says the campaign to get lads’ mags off the shelf is finally seeing real success after a decade of campaigning.
“There are 4,000 fewer stores now stocking these magazines and we hope that others will follow.
“The modesty covers are only a half measure, we are asking supermarkets to stop selling these harmful and degrading magazines.”