We will stay forever young

Editor of The Face Johnny Davis says rumours of the death of his magazine are much exaggerated
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The Independent Online

Last week, The Independent's media pages carried a report on the health of The Face. It was apparently on its last trendy legs. "Insiders" at publishers Emap are "reportedly developing a new lifestyle magazine title". The implication was that, because The Face was a "lifestyle" title, too, it was therefore dead.

Last week, The Independent's media pages carried a report on the health of The Face. It was apparently on its last trendy legs. "Insiders" at publishers Emap are "reportedly developing a new lifestyle magazine title". The implication was that, because The Face was a "lifestyle" title, too, it was therefore dead.

Oh no! Not again! Not another media page article using the occasion of a new magazine launch/ anniversary/ government report to fret about the demise of the "grand-daddy of style magazines" (© The Independent, 18 April 2000) - sorry, make that "the Queen Mother of style magazines" (© unknown writer quoted in The Independent, 11 July 2000).

Needless to say, reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. Again. First, the facts. Of course Emap is constantly looking to develop new ideas for a rapidly changing marketplace. As a magazine publisher, that's its job. However, it wouldn't make much business-sense to launch a title that would cannibalise a magazine the same company has spent the last year investing in and developing.

During the 12 months that Emap has owned The Face, circulation has increased. Furthermore, we are quietly - but not smugly - looking forward to next month's ABC figure. This figure, we hope, will compare more than favourably with the estimated 10,000 purchasers of Dazed And Confused magazine, the "young upstart" most often wheeled out as proof of The Face's redundancy. But lest we get circulation and vitality confused, we'll be the first to say that "big" sales are no marker of creativity.

This year, The Face has dedicated an issue to teenagers, giving a voice to young Britain by means of an extensive, countrywide survey (Channel 4 are rumoured to be developing programmes inspired by our coverage). We were the first to champion UK garage, devoting our June cover to the most vital pop youth-quake since Britpop (broadsheet supplement coverage duly followed last month). We published a drugs supplement that let users, dealers, outreach workers, customs officers and MPs across Britain speak the unvarnished truth. It was our interview that saw Ken Livingstone speaking out - controversially - in favour of direct action. At least Tony Blair was happy enough - he still sent us a lovely little note for our 20th Birthday (along with Zadie Smith, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, etc, etc).

It is, of course, only our opinion that these are the issues that matter to Young Style Setters. But these signs of life seem a little more substantive than your "signals of impending demise", viz: " The Face is struggling to appeal to younger style-setters" - says who? "As a product, it has failed to stay one step ahead" - and your proof is? "[ The Face] has lost its kudos" - er, how so? "[ The Face] can either go more mainstream , or wilfully stray off the radar... it's difficult to see quite what it plans to do" - Mr Dylan Jones, editor of men's magazine GQ.

Well, luckily The Face, like our readers, is big and clever enough to do whatever we like. When we aren't examining social issues and giving credit where credit's due to creative, multi-cultural young Britain, we are the first port of call for The Talent that matters - whether pop stars, Hollywood celebs, writers or artists. It's how you treat such topics and artists: and in this regard, The Face is unbeatable.

It's simply about being witty, authoritative, stylish, vital, indispensable, month-in, month-out. Sometimes we get it right; sometimes we get it wrong. The Face will survive and thrive. We are, after all, only 20 years young. Just out of our teens, in fact. And of course we're all looking forward to the mysterious Project Pop, after all, we've spent long enough working on it.

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