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My Choice

After more than eight years, 47 columns and 282 titles, Spotlight will no more be shining its light into magazine corners. In this final column, Alan Geere selects his favourite Spotlight titles and how they feature in his own personal journey.

By Alan Geere

My Choice

Radio Times

What’s it about: ‘The home of TV, film, streaming and radio’ – Twitter description.

Vital statistics: 11-17 February, 2023 issue: 156 pages of 300mm x 225mm. Matt paper, gloss cover, stitched. £4 cover price. ABC (July to December 2022) of 431,080. Published weekly by Immediate in London.

Cover: Big picture of Hugh (Downton) Bonneville and his co-stars in the ‘gripping news crime drama’ Gold. A royal themed strapline and five celeb names strung across the bottom of the page.

Content: Straight into contents on page three, divided into This Week, Features, Your RT and Your Guide. Names and photos galore on every page, starting with a piece to celebrate 100 years of RT. The big features – Bonneville, Packham, Winkleman, Leith etc – are done with panache before the raison d’être of RT, the listings, start in earnest with on-demand streaming. Each day has 10 pages devoted to all things telly from tightly written previews and film reviews to listings all the way up to BT Sport 4. Radio still gets a good display towards the back along with books, travel, money and puzzles.

Digital: Website at has entertainment features plus a screen-sized tv guide. Links to Facebook with 197k likes, Twitter (101.3k followers) along with Instagram, YouTube and a fair spread of advertising.

What this title means to me: Growing up in the no-man’s land of south Essex in the 1960s (not in London, not in the country), the arrival of the television at 22 Second Avenue in 1964 (in time for Ali v Liston), provided an unexpected window on the world. But before that, there was the radio. Housewives’ Choice and Two-way Family Favourites on the Light Programme along with more weighty matters like Letter from America and Down Your Way on the Home Service. I lapped up the range of excitements on offer, usually with my mum, and then started to look for more details in radio’s very own magazine. Yes, Radio Times. It was the first magazine I can remember looking at regularly – and I still do.

Big Issue

What’s it about: ‘A hand up, not a handout’ – tiny strapline on the cover.

Vital statistics: January 23, 2023 issue: 48 pages of 297mm x 210mm. Newsprint, stitched. £4 cover price. January to December 2022 ABC of 49,376. Published weekly by The Big Issue Group in Finsbury Park, London.

Cover: Big picture of ‘all-conquering multimedia mogul’ KSI, four other small coverlines and the big split-page masthead. The striking page is mostly red type on a black and white background.

Content: Page three lists 10 upcoming items before The Dispatch has four pages of ‘news, views & miscellany’. Opinion, includes views from the editor, founder John Bird and you, the reader, via letters. That KSI cover feature runs to four page, followed by in-depth pieces covering the NHS, Spielberg and Belsen. ‘Culture’ takes in art, books, film, TV and music, classified ads, puzzles and a humbling column called ‘My Pitch’ from a Big Issue vendor at the back.

Digital: Website at has tons of magazine-style content plus a prominently displayed ‘Advice’ section. Links to Facebook, with 43k likes, Twitter (68.5k followers), Instagram and LinkedIn.

What this title means to me: I can’t pretend I came into journalism to change the world. What I really had my eye on, as I pointed my moped towards the Halstead Advertiser (RIP) in 1974, was the opportunity to not only spend my life watching sport, but also to get paid for it! Those boxes (cup finals, test matches, Twickenham, Newmarket races etc) were gratefully ticked and I moved on to proper journalism as the editor of the Diss Express, aged 29. Here, on a small weekly newspaper, I learned the ‘Power of the Press’ mobilising the readership to raise thousands of pounds for Ethiopian famine relief – a cause thousands of miles and several lifetimes away from rural East Anglia. So, hats off to the Big Issue, offering hope to the homeless for more than 30 years – and a cracking read it is too.


What’s it about: ‘Football news, features, statistics’ – description on website.

Vital statistics: February 2023 issue: 116 pages of 289mm x 215mm. Matt paper, heavyweight matt cover, perfect bound. £4.99 cover price. ABC (Jan-Dec 2022) of 34,036. Published by Future in Bath.

Cover: Big picture of now grown-up enfant terrible Roy Keane to illustrate the cover story about angry players. Two other small pictures and six crossrefs to inside.

Content: Well-illustrated contents across pages 4-5, which herald ‘Upfront’, ‘Features’, ‘Around the grounds’ and ‘The Players Lounge’, which are entertaining Q&As. A pictorial retrospective on the World Cup before ‘You ask the questions’ where readers quiz the much-travelled Kevin-Prince Boateng. That interview with Keane is given space to run along with suitably snarling pictures. A thoughtful piece on resurgent Napoli, life and times of assistant managers and remembering Graeme Souness at Benfica among the other goodies.

Digital: Newsy website at displays ‘Quizzes’ and ‘Lists’ prominently plus links to Twitter, with a whopping 506.2k followers, and Facebook that has more than one million likes. Also lots to look at on a YouTube channel with 373k subscribers.

What this title means to me: By the late 1970s, I was part of a nine-man sports department at the Cambridge (then) Evening News. (Yes, really, NINE and DEPARTMENT!). One of my colleagues was having a clear-out at home and brought in cardboard boxes filled with Football Monthly magazines, going back to the mid-1950s, not long after it was founded by former player turned journalist Charles Buchan. I eagerly gave them a new home and so rekindled a love for Football Monthly that had started when I cut them up to make scrapbooks (sacrilege!) around the time of England’s World Cup win in 1966. It was a truly fabulous magazine, giving a glimpse into the home and family life of the players as well as behind the scenes at clubs. Now, still flying the flag for our national game is FourFourTwo, which coyly calls itself ‘The biggest football magazine in the world’.

Cranes Today

What’s it about: ‘The independent magazine of the crane industry’ – description on Twitter.

Vital statistics: February 2023 issue: 52 pages of 287mm x 210mm. Matt paper, heavyweight gloss cover, perfect bound. Free. ABC of 9,850 (July 2021-June 2022). Published monthly by Progressive Media International Limited in Hatton Garden, London.

Cover: Big picture of ‘Italian knuckle boom crane manufacturer PM’s flagship 70.5 SP series’, three small strapline crossrefs and a natty masthead.

Content: Nine elements on the page three contents before the editor’s musings plus an innovative ‘mentioned in this issue’ panel. ‘Job of month’ is moving an impossibly large bridge before four pages of news and a preview of a construction show in Las Vegas. More on those knuckle booms, inside track on crawler cranes, Safety and Training, Product Showroom all wrapped around a generous complement of display advertising.

Digital: Website at has the opportunity to read the magazine via yudu plus comprehensive content across all sectors. Engaged on social media with 7.1k followers on Twitter and 4.8k likes on Facebook.

What this title means to me: Back in the magazine boom years of the late 80s / early 90s, I had a wonderful time helping journalists on B2B titles improve their skills, and ultimately their publications. There were some fantastic venues too. From the splendour of Lancaster Gate with Haymarket to the Soho hotbed of Centaur via Future in Georgian Bath but my favourite was always the historic and quirky headquarters of MBC behind New Scotland Yard in Westminster. Its flagship publication was Architects’ Journal, still going strong after nearly 130 years and now under the stewardship of Emap. Also housed there was Cranes Today, After one particularly lavish lunch (wine was provided!), we set off on a field trip of London cranes to report on what they were doing and how they were doing it. I will never forget the knowledge, ingenuity and commitment of those enterprising B2B journalists, exemplified by the team from Cranes Today who performed all the heavy lifting required to keep their customers satisfied.

National Geographic

What’s it about: ‘Taking our understanding and awareness of the world further for more than 130 years’ – from ‘Intro’ on Facebook.

Vital statistics: January 2023 issue: 138 pages of 253mm x 175mm. A mix of gloss and matt paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. £6.99 cover price. ABC (Jul-Dec 2022) of 83,464. Published monthly by National Geographic Partners in Washington DC, USA.

Cover: Big picture of a 69-year-old skydiving instructor doing his stuff against a very blue sky to illustrate the cover story ‘Living Longer – and Better’. One other coverline with three more crossrefs on the spine.

Content: Themes like ‘The Big Idea’ and ‘Innovation’ listed in the contents across pages 3 and 4. A typically delightful picture story about women with disabilities in Uganda and an exploration into worldwide food habits set the tone before travel highlights. Onto that longer living cover story which includes a double gatefold graphic about how cells age. Manatees also get the gatefold graphic treatment before visits to a lost kingdom in northern Nepal and women skateboarders in Bolivia.

Digital: Website at has topical content, plus the opportunity to browse the archive. Links to 50m likes on Facebook, 28.8m followers on Twitter and 262m followers on Instagram. (Incidentally, a Spotlight digital record in the very last column!)

What this title means to me: On the back of being able to do a few fairly simple things reasonably well, journalism has taken me around the world. I’ve edited newspapers in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, worked in media development in Afghanistan, Romania and Vietnam and in journalism education in Uganda and China. I’m currently working on a ‘Strengthening Media Governance’ programme in the Maldives – certainly a long way from 22 Second Avenue. While in Afghanistan, I met a photographer who was working on a year-long project to capture that beguiling country for National Geographic. I envied the time and space he was given but also came to see how NG was opening up the world to readers in armchairs around the world.

Private Eye

What’s it about: ‘Britain's best-selling news and current affairs magazine with a unique mix of jokes and investigative journalism’ – description on Twitter.

Vital statistics: 20 Jan-2 Feb, 2023 issue: 48 pages of 297mm x 210mm. Newsprint throughout. Stitched. £2.99 cover price. ABC (Jul-Dec 2022) of 248,133. Published every two weeks by Pressdram in Soho, London.

Cover: Typically, a speech-bubble titterer and this one no exception, featuring those favourite warring royal brothers, Wills and Harry.

Content: Five pages of ads before the opening page featuring short stories, pictures, a cartoon and small strapline promoting inside. News and ‘Street of Shame’ taking the Press to task. ‘HP Sauce’ does the same for parliament while ‘Rotten Boroughs’ dives into the murky waters of local government. Serious foreign observations before letters, spoof stories, WhatsApp group, cartoons and all-round nonsense that Private Eye is famed for. Some of the country’s best investigative journalism ‘In the Back’ and ‘In the City’.

Digital: Website at has lots of the printed content, but also a ‘only in the magazine’ section. Links to 243k likes on Facebook and 635.7k followers on Twitter – and very boldly following 0. Also Instagram, YouTube and their very own podcast, called page 94.

What this title means to me: So, what next then in the world of journalism? Only a couple of years ago, I’d have said ‘journalism and publishing’, but that ship seems to have sailed in oh so many directions.

Are we jumping aboard ChatGPT and all that artificial intelligence (AI) language models have to offer? Is it the end of creative humans as we know it? I don’t think so, and Private Eye is there to tell you why. There’s no display to talk of, just three column text and small headlines. The pictures are similarly stingy while some of the cartoons test aging eyesight. But nearly a quarter of a million people don’t seem to care. Every fortnight, they pay for quality content that they can’t get anywhere else. And that, I feel, will be the future of the noble profession I have pursued for nearly 50 years.

This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list to receive the magazine, please register here.