The Scotsman

S2 Thursday
The Scotsman
Thu 15 Jan 2004
Sorted is the first magazine for boys aged 11 to 16. As well as covering the usual bases such as women and sport, the magazine features advice on emotional and sexual issues.
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A teen mag for boys - but will they buy it?

Stephen McGinty

Teenage boys’ reading material has always been rather eclectic. Commando comics initiated them in the art of hand-to-hand combat and cultural differences with phrases such as "Die, Fritz, die!", while Roy of the Rovers taught sportsmanship, etiquette and why a fractured ankle, a broken rib and an early case of Polio should never stand between a determined team captain and victory in the FA Cup. "The Melchester Rovers captain has climbed out of the iron lung and he’s back on the pitch. Incredible." Advice on girls, romance or the "mushy stuff" was close at hand with copies of Razzle or Men Only harvested from the woods in the local park.

Their counterparts in the sex war, however, have always been armed to the teeth for modern life by a library of scented magazines that dissect life, fashion and the intricacies of romance. Today there are no less than 14 publications on the newsstands aimed at teenage girls, while teenage boys have none. But boys aged between 11 and 16 need fumble in the dark no longer. A new monthly magazine, Sorted, is published today and its cover, features and problem page form a Play School round window into the teenage soul.

The cover features Beyoncé in a bizarre clinch with a video image of a giant chicken. Inside, an article on the Shaolin monks of China is tagged: "There are no books, no exams and you learn how to punch through brick - is this the coolest school in the world?", while the problem page gently leads the befuddled reader through such hot button topics as testicular cancer, teenage pregnancy and the effects of E. It also strikes down that perennial teenage male concern: why excessive masturbation will not lead to blindness.
‘Teenage boys are just as interested in how they look and how they act as teenage girls and it’s wrong to think otherwise’

Also jammed into Sorted’s 96 glossy pages are articles on football, stock car racing, computer games and a poster of Halle Berry in a catsuit. "Grrr!", as the contents page comments.

The editor, Martin Klipp, who at 25 is one of the magazine world’s youngest editors, began his career as a schoolboy when he went on work experience to Loaded. He agrees that Sorted could be described as Loaded’s "mini-me". "The comparisons I would make are the irreverence and humour. It’s about taking the piss and having a laugh. When Loaded first came out that was what was great about it."

Klipp and his team at Russell Church publishers, a new company that has invested £2 million in their debut title, are aware of the boundaries. Words such as "shit", "fart" and "arse" are permitted but more rude words, if they crop up in interviews, will be asterisked out. "People forget how clued up and aware teenagers are today, you can’t sugar-coat words for them or try and hide things away. But we are also aware that, since this is the first publication aimed at the three million teenage boys aged between 11 and 16, we have a great opportunity to shape and influence the next generation.

"As Spider-Man used to say: ‘With great power comes great responsibility’." It was for this reason the magazine secured the services of Radio One’s Dr Mark Hamilton to deliver, as they explain, "no bullshit, just the facts".

The idea of the magazine has been supported by those who work with teenagers and who recognise that there has long been a gap in the market. Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist at Bath University, believes a publication such as Sorted could work as an effective educational tool about issues such as health and relationships. "They could do a really good service. Teenage boys are just as interested in how they look and how they act as teenage girls and it’s wrong to think otherwise. The magazine’s success will depend on if, and how quickly, it catches on. If boys notice their friends reading it then they will more than likely pick it up too. I would hope that the articles would in the future become longer. I don’t think teenagers have a short attention span, I think we assume they have and pander to it."

Sorted is available at newsagents priced £2.50.
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