Paul Merrill farewells Take 5 magazine

The editor-in-chief of Bauer’s Take 5 title, Paul Merrill, is finishing up today.

Upon his departure, the magazine will move into the larger weeklies category within Bauer which currently houses TV Week, Woman’s Day, NW and OK.

Real-life king Merrill

Merrill joined Bauer six and a half years ago to focus on new product development. He oversaw several magazine launches before becoming editor-in-chief of Take 5. It is, he says, the best magazine job in Australia.

“I’ve always hated vacuous celebrities, and I [love] people who’ve got genuine stories to tell. I’m always fascinated by real-life stories. I’m always the person down at the pub, asking the questions, trying to find out more about people, and get them to open up,” he told Mumbrella ahead of his departure.

“And some of the stories we’ve done have been just extraordinary. We’re obviously known for our cover lines, and we’ve had some choice ones over the years.”

Some of his favourites include ‘I jailed my aunt for fat-shaming my pug’, ‘My budgie’s flatulence destroyed our sex life’, and ‘My evil husband came back as a gold fish, so I flushed him down the dunny’.

The unusual, and often outrageous, tone of the magazine’s cover lines, however, shouldn’t distract or mislead people, Merrill said. The fact is, he said, Take 5 journalists are some of the best in the country, and the magazine is the envy of many in the publishing realm.

“Take 5 is really outstanding journalism,” he insisted. “Maybe looking at it, you just think it’s a funny kind of mag, but the stories that the journalists get are second to none, and TV always follows us up trying to get our stories, as do other websites and newspapers.

“We’ve got an enviable reputation in the industry. It’s really good journalists. And that’s what’s really at the heart of it. I think that’s what I value most highly – is having not just great writers, but people who are journalists and know their audience and can communicate to them. I’ll miss the people.”

Up next for Merrill is finishing his book, titled ‘Bloke’, which is an unofficial history of the Australian male – “and obviously being a Brit makes me an expert on this”, he quipped.

He’s also looking at content curation, marketing and publicity opportunities for potential clients, as well as “spending more time with my money”.

And Take 5, he said, will be just fine.

“I launched the bumper monthly last year, and now it’s the sixth-most-read magazine in Australia, and that’s fantastic.

“And the team here – I’ve recruited the whole team – they’re just fabulous. They’re unsung,” he said.

How unsung?

“If you work on a big, glam mag, then it’s endless lunches and being given flowers and being whisked off to the Maldives. But on Take 5, I remember somebody who worked for me at Empire was taken to LA to be wined and dined and shown the new Star Wars theme park, and that same morning, I’d been invited to the launch of a new wet mop in Parramatta. So that shows the difference in glamour.”

It’s not, he said, about the fame and the fortune.

“It’s for the Aussie battlers. It’s not glamorous, but it’s real life, and it’s very real. It’s been fantastic. I’ll certainly miss that.”

The magazine is a big money maker though, he said- it’s commercially successful, and is in a very good place.

“[The industry’s] in rude health. People still want good content curated for them. They always will, whatever platform it’s on. I think there’s a hunger for good stories that are written well.”

Bauer thanked Merrill for his contributions and commitment to Bauer Media.


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