Sorted: a revolution in media
Lads' mag with a difference is performing against the odds
Despite a decline in the publishing industry and a huge drop in sales for lads' mags, Sorted magazine – aimed primarily at Christian men - is celebrating, having doubled its circulation in the past year from 20,000 to 40,000.
Editor Steve Legg first came up with the idea of creating a wholesome magazine for men after chatting with another dad at the school gates and discovering that young boys were bringing inappropriate material into school.
He saw a gap in the market for a magazine that "stimulate[s] the mind rather than the libido" and set about creating something "more mature, upbeat and wholesome" for the men's market.
The end result was Sorted, which comes out six times a year and is sold in newsagents such as WH Smiths, as well as being made available in bars, gyms, clubs, prisons and waiting areas across the UK. Published by Son Christian Media Ltd, it is also currently sold in 15 other countries globally.
Steve, a professional evangelist who often uses escapologist displays to communicate the gospel, says: "It's something for men to identify with in a positive way."
The magazine has proved a hit among those who don't wish to be patronised by the usual offerings aimed at their demographic, which are currently facing pressure from campaigns such as 'No more Page 3' and 'Lose the Lads' Mags'.
Though the magazine has a Christian basis, it also hopes to reach men from all faiths and walks of life, or indeed no faith at all.
Director of publishing Duncan Williams notes that the majority of subscribers are not, in fact, Christians.
"We have a huge number of subscribers in the Armed Forces and the Royal Navy distribute the magazine in all their mess halls," he explains.
"Having spoke to chaplaincies, while troops are away they can become very isolated and have no Christian reading material beyond the Bible. Sorted is accessible and real to them. With film reviews and things like that, it lets them know what's going on in the secular world."
Each edition features a detailed interview with a male celebrity. Past starts include Will Smith, Steve Carrell, Denzel Washington and Michael Caine. It also runs articles about finance, sport, faith, addictions, fitness, mentoring, gadgets and more, not to mention a '60 Second life Coach' and a 'Sex Doc'.
TV presenter and professional adventurer Bear Grylls, known for his strong faith and endorsement of the Alpha course, also regularly contributes to the magazine. He has labelled it as "down to earth, real [and] un-religious", and says it has "helped my Christian faith so much".
There is obviously a market for this different kind of men's magazine, revealed by Sorted's growing circulation and subscription rate.
Of the new increase in readership, Williams says: "Sorted has been an encouraging success, as has our lifestyle title for women, Liberti magazine.
"The popularity of these two titles has been a real sign that there is a growing readership, male and female and of various ages, that appreciates contemporary Christian publications.
"I think demand has risen following the hacking scandal to have genuinely positive, trustworthy and ethical reporting, and Christian media provides that.
"We ask fundamental questions – we ask about faith or lack of it, which gives an interesting angle rather than tapping around celebrity gossip. When David Frost asked Tony Blair 'Do you pray?' it completely flummoxed him. By asking that question to celebrities you get some interesting reactions, and it's been really rewarding to find a different angle to the usual salacious gossip offered by the tabloids."
The next edition of Sorted featuring Ben Stiller will be published on 18 February.