The Paper’s Oliver Gabe & Owen Davies

Host: Peter Houston
February 20, 2024

This week, Media Voices hear from two of the three editors of The Paper, an intimidatingly-sized Welsh indie magazine. Oliver Gabe and Owen Davies take us through the annual publishing plan, why they launched the title with a live variety show, and what makes the title feel truly distinctive in a saturated marketplace.

In the news roundup Esther, Peter and Chris discuss some items of relatively good media news, before segueing into the bad. We ask whether generalist media titles are one end of a seesaw and bespoke local and specialist titles are the other, and discuss why ‘distinctiveness’ and ‘community’ are too often used to paper over cracks in media business models.

A selected highlight…the secret of their (sold out) success

Owen: We need to stop doing ourselves dirty by saying that a lot of it was accidental, but as with most things, a lot of it is accidental. Something like it didn’t really exist. It wasn’t like we identified a gap in the market, but there wasn’t anything that was doing something similar. And people just sort of connected with it really. That’s a real, reductive, simplistic answer!

Oliver: Nothing’s accidental, but a lot of it is intuitive. What we’re doing can be replicated by anyone. It’s nothing special. Essentially all we’ve done is… we can’t put Harry Styles in our magazine because we don’t know him! But we do know our mates.

I think the reason possibly people like the magazine, or maybe it’s perceived as different, is because we’ve literally just put what’s around us out. That’s a formula which can be replicated by anybody. What do you have access to? What do you have around you? And thinking that’s good enough to put out there because it’s probably from the attitude that you don’t need to try and do things like everybody else, just whatever you’ve got access to around you was good enough.