Maggie Goodman, who launched and edited Company magazine for many years prior to ushering in the celebrity era with the launch of Hello! Until I became her deputy on Company, I’d always believed the cliché that editors had to be harridans prepared to skewer lesser mortals with their stilettos on their way to the top. (There were quite a few like that around at the time, and I found them daunting.)
But Maggie proved you could be a really good editor as well as a genuinely nice person. All the staff loved her to bits. It was thanks to her that, when she left, I had the confidence to apply for her job. Now, I think anyone who needs to treat staff like pondlife is just inadequate.
You know what? I’d rather give a big pat on the back to (most of) the subs I’ve worked with over the years. Sub editors are the great unsung heroes of the print world.
I can think of many “great” journalists whose raw copy has been shambolic – wildly overwritten, sloppily constructed and with little or no regard to the brief – but that has been trimmed and sculpted and corrected by a diligent sub and often turned into a thing of beauty. Yet most of the time they only get a mention when a mistake slips through the net.
Maxim. Because they said it couldn’t be done. I was a 40-year-old single mother, and I was about to launch a lads’ mag – gulp – at a time when the prevailing wisdom was that men didn’t read general-interest magazines, only specialist ones. You can see why people thought I was off my trolley. GQ were taking bets that we wouldn’t last a year. Within a year we were outselling them. I do like a challenge.
I’d like to think that it was a huge award-winning street-safety survey and campaign I ran on Company, which revealed both the real reasons why women so often felt scared on the streets – and particularly by night – and the most effective ways of tackling the problem. The response was huge, the press coverage extensive, and a whole raft of safety measures were implemented as a result.
And when I was on Radio Times, we hit the headlines most weeks with some big-name celebrity scoop or other. But I think my biggest scoop was about a five-line newsbite reporting having overheard the then Lady Diana in the loo at Le Caprice that she used clear nail varnish to stop her tights laddering. That one went everywhere. Yes, quite.
The Week. It’s all very well being able to access media anytime, any place, anywhere, but the number of hours in my day haven’t increased, and I simply don’t have enough time to be constantly on top of all that and more.
The Week makes me feel I’ve (just about) kept in touch with everything I need to keep tabs on – from the big global stories to the tabloid titbits.
Best book about journalism
Harold Evans’s Pictures on a Page, 1978. Unlike journalism students now, I went into magazines with no experience or training at all. I didn’t come from a media background, either, and I didn’t have a single contact when I started out.
So Evans’s book – showing the different ways in which photos can be used and manipulated to profoundly affect the reading of a story – was a revelation. Over 30 years on, it remains the most enlightening and memorable book I’ve ever read on journalism.