The Spectator has been celebrating its 10,000th UK issue with justifiable pride; it is an astounding achievement. Australia has long been an exceptional market for magazines especially women’s magazines. A recent book – Queens of Print – gives an insider view of that market. Compiled by Rebecca Johinke, it is subtitled: Interviews with Australia’s Iconic Women’s Magazine Editors. Some edit magazines which publish grossly fictitious headlines about celebrities, royal and commoner alike. They are all trying to be ‘relevant’. Oddly, the glossier they are, the more politically correct they are. There were some champion editors in the past.
The Australian Women’s Weekly, launched in 1933, enjoyed unsurpassed success, at its peak, selling nearly a million copies per week when the population was scarcely 10 million. The editor in that heyday was Esme Fenston from 1950 until her death in 1972. Her influence was extraordinary; the editorial coverage ranged from very suburban matters to the latest Paris fashions and the most social weddings. Everybody read it. Sadly it became a monthly in 1983 but retained the name.
Another outstanding editor was Sheila Scotter, at Vogue Australia for 10 years from 1962. She looked the part, played the part, and could be as difficult as the editor in The Devil Wears Prada, but she built the magazine’s circulation and its influence. A number of foreign- owned titles are likely to be closed down soon. But I still believe print magazines are here to stay. Long live The Speccie!
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