Joe Barnes, Editor of FHM: On a Mission to Rescue Men’s Mags


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Journalism students were excited, inspired and impressed by a previous Journalism student at UCF who is now the editor of FHM magazine.

Graduated in 2003 from University College of Falmouth, Joe was experienced in video, web design, photography as well as journalistic writing, he saved up cash and stayed at his parent’s house when he moved to London to get work experience.

Starting as a “workie”, Barnes never said no to any job, he explains how he felt the pain. He advised the students to bide your time and not expect too much too quickly; be at least semi normal, speak up but don’t be too loud, don’t hug the editor – “I had a girl hug me, that was a bit weird,” said Barnes. He finally adds: “If you make a cup of tea for someone they will like you more.”

After two years of making tea, asking questions, flattering, brown nosing and not hugging editors, Barnes was appointed editor of FRONT magazine in 2006. He modestly boasted how he turned the magazine from being similar to all the other “lad’s mags” and making it into a brand and not just a magazine. “If you work in magazines it’s essentially brand managing,” said Barnes.

Successfully taking FRONT sales from 20k to 40k, FHM scouted Barnes to work for them and after five hours of interviews he got the job as editor in June 2011 and his initial brief was to “turn around the tanker” and ditch the “lad’s mag” tag.

Joe Barnes never saw himself as a “lad’s mag regenerator”, he wanted to write political stories but somehow ended up at FRONT and then FHM and not regretting a thing. “I wanted to write political stories while I was here [at UCF] but now I’m an expert in women’s underwear and bikinis,” he told journalism students. He describes journalists now as “the platform agnostic, multi-tasking content producer and brand manager.” Basically saying that you have to have more skills than just being able to write good stories.

The saviour of FRONT mag and editor of FHM magazine finalised his talk with an interesting question for the students to think about: “what’s going to happen in five years or ten years from now?”

Follow Joe on Twitter @barnesfhm

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