Girl In Media: Celeste Mitchell

My own love affair with TV Hits, the youth entertainment magazine now in its 21st year of publication, started when I was 10 and Martika, Madonna and Kylie Minogue were rocking the pop charts. I'd listen to the radio on my "ghetto blaster", waiting for the songs I wanted to tape (on cassette) come on the radio, while memorising the song lyrics on the (cherished) perforated song cards, plastering my walls with the posters and covering my exercise books with celebrity stickers. In terms of reader interactivity, TV Hits was "the bomb" for a tween girl before the advent of tween-specific titles like Total Girl, K-Zone and Disney Adventures. The past few years have been tumultuous for the publication, which appears to be settling into its new millennium groove despite the proliferation of gossip and entertainment sites, dedicated fan sites, blogs, chat rooms, celebrity Twitters, and all those other distractions (MySpace, computer games) keeping the kids occupied.

After seeing circulation peak at 200,000+ in the 90s, the monthly mag (then edited by Famous' Shannon Shipley) went quarterly in 2005, with a focus on posters and quizzes, only to be revived as a bi-monthly falling under the editorship of Girlfriend editors Sarah Oakes (now at CLEO) and Sarah Cornish, while attended to by a features writer/deputy editor (Girlfriend's Odette Tonkin and current deputy editor Demeter Stamell) and freelance designer.

Now, with readership hovering around 250,000 and former rival Smash Hits no longer on the scene, the magazine has entered a new era with a new editor, Celeste Mitchell. GWAS chatted to the very talented Celeste – now a long-time Pac Mags girl and dynamo multi-tasker – about her role and career in media...

GWAS: Congratulations on your appointment as TV Hits editor. What drew you to the role? Thank you! I was given the opportunity to take on TV Hits in combination with my current role as Editor of Youth Brand Extensions (creating specialty publications for Girlfriend, Total Girl and TV Hits) and I jumped at the chance! As a teenager, my walls were plastered with TV Hits posters and to now be working on such an iconic brand is a great honour.

What do you love about TV Hits and what do you hope to bring to the mag as editor? I love that it's purely about entertainment - we have the opportunity to profile a wide range of bands, musicians, actors and entertainers, and the tone is always fun. I hope to bring more variety to the title, feature more up-and-coming artists (like our cover stars Short Stack), generate excitement with some great editorial initiatives, and we're currently working to improve our online presence, so stay tuned.

TV Hits has quite a legacy in Australia - now celebrating its 21st birthday and all. Did you read it growing up? Absolutely! Who could have gone past all the JTT and Taylor Hanson posters? I bought every issue, along with Girlfriend and Dolly, through high school and then graduated to Cleo/Cosmo when I was at uni. And I know this will sound super daggy, but two of my favourite magazines growing up were actually Dance Australia and Horse Lovers. My full-blown magazine obsession didn't really begin until half way through uni, and now I struggle to find time to read them all.

Why media/magazine journalism? What do you love about the field? I originally chose to study journalism because I wanted to be a television reporter, but about half-way through my second year of uni I did a week of work experience at Cleo magazine - coming from the Sunshine Coast, I flew down to Sydney and stayed in a hotel for a week at my parents' very generous expense. I was hooked! Even though I spent most of the week feeling completely under-dressed and doing menial tasks, like fetching coffee and opening competition entries, I knew it was exactly where I wanted to be. I love everything about magazines. Every editorial role is so creative and interesting, and each title has its own unique personality. I still think it's glamorous, even when I'm subbing a huge pile of proofs or doing fashion returns!

Take us through your media career. How did you break into mags and what positions have you held? I studied for a Bachelor of Journalism at QUT in Brisbane, and was lucky enough to score a job in my final semester at Weight Watchers magazine. Within two weeks I had to tie up all of my uni work, move out of my place in Brisbane, and move to Sydney to start work. I didn't know a soul in Sydney but I was just so happy going to work every day. And working within a small team was such a great start for me - I was there for two years and worked my way up from editorial assistant to fashion/beauty coordinator and then Deputy Editor. I was then lucky enough to score the Features Writer position at Girlfriend, followed by the role of Deputy Editor at Total Girl (under the gorgeous Sarah Cornish), where I stayed for two great years before being offered the position of Editor - Youth Brand Extensions.

What do you love about working for Pacific? Is the energy positive at the moment? I've been with Pacific for four-and-a-half years now (broken up with a six month stint overseas) and it's a really great place to work. The vibe is positive at the moment - I know there have been some doubts cast over people's minds in the industry but the youth titles here, in particular, are standing strong. We all work so hard and love what we do, and it's showing in our results. Our Mar/Apr issue of TV Hits (under Sarah Cornish's editorship) broke record sales for the year and we continue to get positive feedback from our readers.

Which mags have inspired you most over the years/why? I can't go past Frankie and Russh - their beautiful layouts and inspirational articles are always refreshing.

Which editors/media types have inspired you/why? I really look up to both of the Sarah's in my professional life: Sarah Oakes was my editor when I was at Girlfriend, and she has achieved so much in her career so far. I was even impressed with the way she interviewed me for the role! She was just so on it in every way. When she called me to tell me I had the job, I nearly fell off my chair! Over the years her advice has really helped me. And Sarah Cornish is just so lovely all the time, and so encouraging of my ideas. Other than that, there are just too many to list! I really admire the work of so many of the women in media, especially those I have had the pleasure of working with (like GWAS)!

Your latest side-project is AsSeenIn: what prompted you to create the site and what's the gist? As seen in was born out of my frustration at never being able to find all the fashion items I loved in magazines when I hit the shops! After purchasing the domain name and sitting on the idea for 18 months, I finally had the time to plan the business late last year and launched in February - at the same time I took on the editorship of TV Hits! Each day I profile items from one of the latest magazines and provide the links so readers can purchase instantly - cutting out the frustrating time spent calling stockist numbers and hunting around the shops. I eventually want it to be a one-stop shop for everything featured in magazines.

The May/June issue of TV Hits, edited by Celeste, is out now. I had the privilege of working with Celeste during my time at Pac Mags.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel


Anonymous said...

Good luck to Celeste. I did a one-week work placement at TV Hits in 2004 when it was run by another editor and a more horrible bunch of people I have never encountered. They were extremely nasty and bitchy, with comments including: "Why do so many fat, ugly chicks enter Australian Idol?" (This comment was made by a female feature writer, by the way). I sure hope the atmosphere has changed since then.

I said...

i know you're a fan of christine centenera's style and i found this piccy-wic:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another great ''Girl in Media'' post! I really enjoy reading these and hope there will be more to come!! x

belinda said...

Loving the insight into mag peers, erica. great little interviews!

Lisa said...

The picture of Leighton used on the cover of Girlfriends in this article is the exact same picture that ran in the Dec/Jan 09 Seventeen mag in the US. Are they both Hearst companies?