So, I’ve debated writing this post. Is it unprofessional? Is it childish? To be honest, after a lot of deliberation, I’m going to say no. Given the absolutely shocking conduct of FRONT Magazine in recent months since its reformation, I’m going to go out on a limb and assert that if an allegedly ‘professional’ magazine can behave the way they do in public, I can calmly call them out on it; also in public. As a writer myself, I find it completely disrespectful to the industry that people can get away with the absolute joke that is the recent publishing of FRONT. Here’s why…
[NOTE FROM THE EDITOR (ME), JUNE 2ND: Since writing this piece, I've received a lot of feedback. It appears I didn't even scratch the surface with the absolutely abhorrent things this magazine was doing. The good news? It looks like they might have actually FINALLY stopped. I've heard scandalous tales, many about reputable photographers not being paid and having to take legal action. This is what happens when a bunch of overgrown children - as highlighted below - try to manage a business. As one person put it, it was almost like 'the nail in the coffin' when big names started having their invoices ignored, and being threatened as well. People had their hard work stolen in many ways, and apparently, certain people couldn't even own up to what they'd done. To be honest, the message I got which struck me as most poignant was an email I received from someone who wanted to 'clear their name'. They said they were embarrassed for putting their trust in a magazine, hoping to be paid and hoping to launch their career. It's the people just starting out I worry about. They were let down in every sense of the word and I want that person, and any other talented people out there who were also taken advantage of, to know that I don't judge them for anything they had no hand in. I wish everyone luck in their future and hope nobody is held back from their experiences, and that people get paid!!!]
If you don’t know what FRONT Magazine is, you’re not missing much. At least, not these days. It’s an alternative magazine full of topless women and ‘banter’ – (Excuse me whilst I get over the fact I’ve just used that word in my piece)! The boob shots are interspersed with music and sport news, so whilst it’s not exactly high brow, I have to admit, that’s not what I have an issue with, at all.
I’m not judging the women in this magazine, please don’t think that’s what this post is about. Whilst I certainly have my gripes about the way the industry works on favors (that’s an issue for another post entirely…), I recognize that any unpaid models in this magazine CHOSE to appear unpaid, and it launched their careers in other ways. I also realize there are other, feminist concerns with the magazine, but for now and the purposes of today’s post, I’m working off the basis of personal choice.
I’ve heard from one source (who wishes not to be named) that the magazine was unprofessional even years back (he told me horror stories of being asked to shoot a band “with some of the girls in the crowd to maybe get their tits out“, and of him not even being paid!); but my main concern with this magazine is how EVERY SINGLE THING they have done since being taken over by inexperienced posers has been an offence to women, journalism, the music industry, gay people, and basically everyone in humanity.
1. They (attempt to) threaten other, more credible journalists.
Be careful about criticising FRONT, guys. They’re highly professional. pic.twitter.com/Ya8lc0b2G0
— Ryan Cooper (@TheLifeOfRyanC) March 1, 2015
Ryan Cooper, who has worked at Kerrang! for three years now, dared to speak out about the absolutely error-riddled ‘journalism’ that appears throughout their pages. Now, I don’t mean to launch personal attacks on anyone’s work, but just look at this response he received for deciding to use his voice. How many respected companies do you know who threaten to come to someone’s place of work or even their home for a fight? Um, none.
2. Their marketing strategies are an embarrassment.
(Image: Screenshot of FRONT’s own Facebook)
Working in Digital Marketing as a career, I’d like to think I know at least a thing or two about things like Social Media Marketing. Your Social Media presence is an extension of your brand, and can often be the literal face of your company. You might want to try not acting like a complete c*** to your readers/followers, then, if you’d like to succeed. It’s fine, and encouraged even, to be informal and have a joke when engaging. But try not to swear at people or insult them directly? If people have valid questions, politely respond, especially if they’re a paying customer. Acting like a dick isn’t going to get you anywhere. It’s not big, funny, or clever; it’s just awful and unprofessional.
Of course, anyone who knows anything about digital would know that, but then, they’ve clearly hired someone who just got a few likes on a status once *BANGS HEAD REPEATEDLY AGAINST THE WALL*. Oh, and just an FYI – using the word ‘retard’ on a company account could quite possibly get you sued.
3. It’s 2015, and they think it’s somehow okay to print homophobic tripe.
I don’t think I even need to warrant this with an explanation, but if you’re going to write ‘non-homo’ (sic) in a magazine that will (somehow) be read by thousands of impressionable teens, you just shouldn’t be allowed to work there. By the way guys, the ‘(sic)’ is because you didn’t even correctly reference the outdated and offensive phrase. I just don’t know how much worse it can get.
4. They have public slanging matches IN THEIR MAGAZINE.
Well, this is just embarrassing. Despite having used that word repeatedly, I can’t help it, I’m just physically ashamed! Using tweets by Leah Harris, an ex-FRONT-model with genuine concerns, in your magazine, without crediting her, and writing ‘nerr ner’, doesn’t make you look like the ‘world dominator’ of the industry that you clearly think you are, it just makes you look really, really petty. Here’s a thought, FRONT – stop airing your dirty laundry in public, and go put your toys back in the pram.
Also, in the case of any backlash against me? Bring it. I have used quotes and evidence, so I know what I’m talking about.
5. It is ABUNDANTLY clear that almost their entire team just doesn’t know what they’re doing, and even FRONT’s biggest ever model has had enough.
(Image Credit: FRONT Issue 158. Awaiting Photographer Info)
Hey, that’s Mellisa Clarke. You’ll probably know her from Page 3, Zoo, and FHM, or as a DJ/Music Person for Metal Hammer, Uprawr, or Scuzz. This impressive lady has come a long way from her FRONT days, the magazine which essentially launched her career. She told me:
“FRONT magazine launched my career 5 years ago, and the people who worked there were part of the alternative scene. They were young, funny and creative – they ‘got it’. FRONT magazine was the most fun magazine to work with and going to festivals with them were some of my favourite memories. If it wasn’t for them I’m not sure if id be as successful as I am now, I was on the cover of FRONT mag six times – no other magazine did that with me.
I’d never thought id see the day where I’d say do not go near FRONT magazine… But, if you look at it today you can tell that the people that bought it just wanted a vanity project to play with. It’s complete with spelling mistakes, bad journalism and awful attempts to look alternative and I don’t know where to start with the amount of un-professionalism that I’ve seen, from insulting fans to bullying models.
In my 5 years of modelling I haven’t seen anything like it, it’s so sad to see. I feel sorry for the girls are new to the industry that have got caught up with this, there seems to be some desperation – sorry girls but none of us got into this industry to get our tits out on snap chat. I got into this industry to travel the world, make good money and to make something of myself.
It’s all a massive shame – RIP“
Reading this reaffirms to me that everyone’s waking up to the facts. If Mel can say this, surely we have a right to, as well? She’s got a point – anyone can get their boobs out on social media, doing it for FRONT these days doesn’t make you special. FRONT are exploiting a previous name for their own gain, to look ‘cool’ to those naive enough to still buy into it. Mel has bravely spoken to me about this, despite admitting to facing all kinds of abuse from staff in the past. Yet another sign that something needs to be said – she just wants to warn others!
Guys. Girls. Give it up.
If the above points don’t make it abundantly clear, nobody is impressed, and people have the right to know they’re not buying into the brand they think they are.
I’m not saying some of the writers and photographers aren’t talented – who am I to criticise you? The last thing I want is to seem jealous; in fact, it just hurts me to see any good people being taken for a ride on this. I’m just saying that it just seems that in 99% of cases, the magazine is going to need to appear more professional and actually edit your work. Take pride!
For one, I have literally dozens of friends who deserved to be a music editor more than the person you have hired. You need to realize, you can’t just decide you want to improve your social status and relaunch a magazine one day, it doesn’t work that way. Well, at least, not if you actually want respect. I find the entire thing an insult to the people who I have known to have tirelessly worked day in, day out, without a break. If you’d given some of those people a chance, instead of just doing a glorified popularity contest/weird ego-boost, you might have been onto something.
Here’s an idea. Can the entire ‘scene’ just stop putting fame above finance, just for a second? Writers, photographers, models – you deserve your work to be seen and *respected*, just remember that. If you’ve been promised payment, go get it. If you’re working just to build your portfolio, make sure it’s worth your time!
Thankfully, people are getting more progressive, and this half-arsed stuff just isn’t going to cut it anymore. People are questioning things, and taking a stand. We don’t want to be patronized.
To me, FRONT just highlights what I’ve known for a while. It doesn’t matter how talented you are in the music industry, it just matters a) Who you know/what shit band you’re in or b) Whether you’re willing to take your clothes off. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with networking and/or glamor modelling, but I think it’s time we started giving people other, credible options into recognition, and glorifying other talents from the start, or it’s simply depressing.