Pam McVitie is unapologetic in her estimation of what the British male wants in a newspaper – “Men basically like looking at pictures of sexy babes. People can deny it if they want, but it’s a fact.”
With wisdom like that, it’s not hard to see why she has recently become the first female editor of Britain’s most salacious daily paper – The Daily Sport. Her appointment means that there are now women editing the three daily titles that rely most-heavily on scantily clad women to entice readers – The Sun (Rebekah Wade), Daily Star (Dawn Neesom) and McVitie’s Sport. Clare Short must be appalled.
But McVitie, 41, doesn’t have a problem with the fact that her working day now requires her to perform a nipple count (which must hit no less than 26 per issue). “I’m entirely comfortable with my job,” she says. “And I don’t feel that I need to defend what I do. If people don’t like our newspaper then they don’t have to buy it. It’s as simple as that.”
And she says that being the first female editor of a newspaper that is predominately read by men has not fazed her either.
“I don’t feel any pressure at all,” she adds. “I’ve been here so long that I probably think a bit like a bloke. I’m not about to introduce a Pilates column or recipes or give away free knitting patterns with the paper.” That would certainly be a first for a newspaper which, in its 22-year history, has become as famous for its bizarre “stories” as its babes. “Bomber found on moon” and “Aliens turned my son into a fish finger” are among the paper’s famous headlines.
And the new editor says the diet of wacky stories will continue under her reign. “We will never be a paper that puts miserable stories on the front page. Our readers are blokes that like a beer and a laugh, and fancy Cheryl Cole. They like to talk about sex and enjoy looking at pictures of women with big boobs. They don’t really care about politics unless it directly affects them. There are plenty of papers that do serious news and they do it very well, but it’s not who we are.”
Last April the Sport attempted to relaunch as a newszine with slightly more mainstream content. It didn’t work. The circulation fell from more than 100,000 to fewer than 80,000. “I don’t like to dwell on it,” says McVitie, who is determined to return to the Sport’s traditional fodder.
“We tried to do something different and it didn’t work. People didn’t want to buy a daily magazine and we realised that quite quickly and changed back.”