Harrington: Time Out, London salutes you

Friday, 15th July

Neon Time Out CREDIT: JUSTINC

Time Out’s old offices in Tottenham Court Road [JustinC]

THE editors of Time Out seemed pretty sanguine when interviewed about ending the famous magazine’s printed edition.

As it takes a deep breath and heads off into a world of online clicks and email subscriptions, chief content officer Dave Calhoun told the Press Gazette: “It feels to me like it’s coming to a happy, natural end. And that’s the same with the team here, actually, I’m not giving you the spin on that.

“I just sat down half an hour ago with our Time Out London editor Joe Mackertich. We were having a similar conversation: ‘This is a big week.’ We’ve launched so many things, we’re saying goodbye to the magazine. Both of us sat there and 100 per cent agreed: ‘You know what, this actually feels right and good’.”

For fans of physical products that you can hold in your hand, of which Harrington is very much one, the shift to a web operation is nonetheless a sad occasion, the latest step in being forced to look at, squint at and do everything through the magic box we carry in our pockets.

When the herd moves, it moves, as someone once said, but it’s even sadder when it happens to one of the goodies.
This week, Time Out served up a reminder of what a cracking magazine it has been, distributing a farewell special edition and recounting its 54 years on the streets.

It was a nostalgic love letter to London and a quantum leap back to a time when our attention span ran further than a tweet.

Time Out doesn’t get everything right – who does? – but it always felt like a good know-it-all, and one that adored this mad city.

The special farewell edition of Time Out distributed this week

These days, we have MyLondon, the Reach-owned website which will spam your local community Facebook group insisting they love your local area just as much, but it always feels like it is grasping for some authenticity.

Amid the boozy lunches, detailed in this week’s special, the Time Out team down in Tottenham Court Road had enough moments of clarity to know where to go, and where we wanted to go: from the backstreet pubs to the underrated galleries.

In doing so, it stitched together London’s series of villages into something that made sense as a whole.

For fledgling bands and hopeful DJs, getting a listing always came with a thrill, but just when you thought it might be getting too cool for its own good, the magazine would throw in that it also liked the sappy Thames duck boat tours or something lurid in the Trocadero.

And then there were the powerful covers. I wish I’d kept some of them, they’d make a great gallery telling a different history from the ones you read in books or see in museums.

At its best, it told you where to go, how to be entertained but delivered some social truths in its features too.

This all sounds like a funeral eulogy, again only because we soldier on putting out a print product each week and we know we are not the only ones that love to sit on a bench and turn a page, and dream like fools about life before the panopticon internet had been invented. Old-fashioned thoughts for sure, and we will all have to find ways to work and write under the new rules.

And with this in mind, we wish the chief content officers at Time Out the best of luck. If they achieve half as much online as they have in print over this past half century then it will still be rosy.

It’s one of those brands that, hopefully, will be strong enough to last the course.

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