Mags: Lisa 'proud to be a westie' Wilkinson

I only got around to reading this Woman's Day feature yesterday (it's from the June 1 edition) while waiting at the dentist (as you do), but thought fans of Lisa Wilkinson might enjoy it. Obviously, it's a puff piece, as she hosts Today, which is broadcast on Nine, which also owns ACP, publisher of Woman's Day (just like New Idea loves a good Joanna Griggs story).

Speaking to students last week, I said that anyone with aspirations to be an editor at 21 (Lisa was editor of Dolly at that age before moving onto Cleo) or even 24 (Mia Freedman took the Cosmo top job at that age) needs to consider that these women were ACP prodigies and very much a product of their time and circumstance.

Similarly, Sarah Oakes, current editor of Cleo, was able to launch Total Girl magazine at Pacific (for which she was to become the youngest MPA Editor of the Year) at a time when the Tween market was lacking a strong girl title, celebrities like Hilary Duff were branding everything from DVDs to undies and Tweens were only just starting to discover the web. Her publishing passion was ripe for the Zeitgeist.

These women also edited their respective magazines in the heyday of the glossy – no gossip, celebrity, fashion or women's websites to compete with. And ACP supremo Kerry Packer loved his girls as much as his cricket (my understanding is that the mood at ACP is currently not as conducive to wide-eyed creativity and outlandish editorial visions). But clearly they were doing something right, which resonated with their readerships. And their dogged ambition was matched by their sturdy work ethic.

Speaking to Woman's Day, Lisa, now 49, says: "People like us are not going to take things for granted. We know the value of a pay cheque, and employers love that... I think that if I had all those connections and that security, I would never have answered an ad in the paper for a Girl Friday at Dolly magazine. I might have thought I was too good to make coffee for everybody and do everything. Maybe I wouldn't have understood what was good about standing on the bottom rung of the ladder and looking up to where I wanted to be."

I really hope that publishers can see past the bottom line over coming years to embrace young editors with the spunk and savvy to create, or re-create, fabulous magazines (with their associated websites, blogs and TV shows, of course). As such, Katie Grand and Conde Nast's LOVE is encouragement enough for now.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel


Anonymous said...

I really like Lisa - she seems like a thoroughly nice woman and gets extra points for putting up with Karl Stefanovic! What I though was interesting about this feature was WD's decision to go with such a Sydney-centric headline. Is a reader in rural WA going to know what a 'westie' is?!

Mitchell said...

The market for magazines has been so unstable in recent years that it's unlikely for companies to employ young editors as it would seem to them like too much of a risk. But some fresh, young blood may be just what is needed to shake up some of the formulaic, dull offerings out there and help young writers break into a very difficult industry.

Anonymous said...

Kitty - I have no idea if this is the case in this situation but sometimes mags like WD will run two different covers or different stories in different cities. I recall it happening with a story on Sam Newman that only ran in Vic and SA last year.

yellow said...

I hope publishers embrace some innovative young editors too, Erica.
Sadly, they won't. Magazines are dull because publishers are terrified of scaring the advertisers with something new. I wonder if Mia Freedman would get a guersey in today's climate? Maybe, if she hid the fact that she had loads of original thoughts and revolutionary ways of doing things.

So you get the same safe old stuff, churned out by the same old people. The only thing different is the circulation - it's lower.

sevenelefant said...

I grew up in the same region as Lisa and always looked up to her as a local girl 'done good'.

I was huge fan of Cleo growing up. What she achieved is quite extraordinary.