ED­I­TORS’ PICKS

THE WEEKLY’S WON­DER WOMEN RE­CALL THEIR HIGH­LIGHTS

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - THIS WEEK IN... -

A host of tal­ented women have sat in the ed­i­tor’s chair over the decades. Ten of them pick their story high­lights

MICHAL MCKAY 1985 – 1987

“It was re­mark­able that de­spite the fact we were in the midst of mas­sive changes po­lit­i­cally – Labour swept to power, Roger­nomics and dereg­u­la­tion was rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the New Zealand fi­nan­cial scene – within the sa­cred en­claves that formed the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, roy­alty ruled.

As the next ed­i­tor to fol­low in the foot­steps of the for­mi­da­ble Jean Wishart, my life in that role had more than a few hur­dles to sur­mount – and roy­alty wasn’t some­thing I re­lated to with com­fort. I was more in­ter­ested in the pol­i­tics of the day, which were in my mind news­wor­thy and what our read­ers needed to be in­formed about – in all its facets. But if cir­cu­la­tion was look­ing as if it needed a boost, Princess Diana was our guar­an­tee of a lift. She was beau­ti­ful and cap­tured read­ers’ hearts.”

JENNY LYNCH 1987 – 1994

“In terms of celebri­ties, cov­er­age of the Rachel Hunter-Rod Ste­wart wed­ding in Jan­uary 1991 was a win­ner on two counts. Read­ers loved it and our pic­tures beat other mag­a­zines to the punch.

On the hu­man in­ter­est front, I can’t go past Claire Parker’s in­tensely mov­ing story (April 18, 1988) about a woman twice hit

by tragedy. Eight years ear­lier, Nan­cye O’Reilly’s six-year-old daugh­ter had been raped and mur­dered. The killer had not been found. Then, in Novem­ber 1987, a sec­ond daugh­ter was fatally in­jured by a drunk driver.

While Nan­cye had trou­ble com­ing to terms with her anger to­ward the un­known mur­derer, she told Claire that she had for­given the young driver whose care­less­ness had taken the 15-year-old’s life.

And although long-serv­ing ed­i­tor Jean Wishart is no longer with us, she sure would have wanted to men­tion the Weekly’s scoop colour cov­er­age of

New Zealand’s first quin­tu­plets. Pic­tures of par­ents Sam and Ann Law­son and the ba­bies ap­peared in the is­sue of Au­gust 30, 1965.”

SARAH- KATE LYNCH 1994 – 1996

“One of my most mem­o­rable mo­ments in­volved, as I’m sure do many other ed­i­tors, the late Princess Diana. But it wasn’t the story it­self that I re­mem­ber, but rather the pic­tures and, more specif­i­cally, how we got them. It seems ridicu­lous in this mod­ern in­ter­net age, but we used to have to wait days to see pho­tos of the Peo­ple’s Princess back then. I guess we were sent hard copies? I can’t re­call, but what I do re­call, crys­tal clear, is the day, back in the 1990s, when we got our­selves a fancy-pants, new-fan­gled ma­chine. It meant just mo­ments af­ter the pho­tog­ra­pher took Princess Diana’s photo ar­riv­ing at the Ser­pen­tine Gallery in her off- the-shoul­der black dress (the “re­venge” dress) with pearl choker and golden tan, we were re­ceiv­ing them at our Mt Eden of­fice in Auck­land. It al­most felt like be­ing there.”

WENDYL NIS­SEN 1996 – 1997

“In Fe­bru­ary 1997, the Ing­ham twins, Sarah and Joanne, stowed away on a con­tainer ship, then leapt into shark­in­fested waters off Queens­land. I man­aged to get their ex­clu­sive story through their lawyer and was quite ex­cited as my com­peti­tor Woman’s Day had a much big­ger cheque­book than mine, but I still got the story. I got so car­ried away with my­self, I rang up my friend, pho­tog­ra­pher Monty Adams, and we did this very arty cover of them both emerg­ing from the wa­ter – get it? It was pos­si­bly a bit too much for the Woman’s Weekly au­di­ence, but I loved that cover and al­ways have. I even en­tered it for an award, which we didn’t win.”

ROWAN DIXON 1997 – 2003

“The most mem­o­rable story dur­ing my time at the Weekly wasn’t when I was edit­ing it, but as deputy ed­i­tor. It was the in­fa­mous Ing­ham twins, who we be­came ob­sessed with in 1997. They had stowed away on a Malaysian ship af­ter one of them had fallen for a sailor, jumped over­board off the coast of Queens­land and swam through shark-and-croc­o­dile in­fested waters, and some­how sur­vived in the bush for a

cou­ple of weeks. We put them on the cover, which was one of our best-sell­ing is­sues, and then later gave them a makeover, and put them on the cover again. That sold even more. They were inar­tic­u­late, al­most to the point of be­ing im­pos­si­ble to in­ter­view, but for a while the New Zealand pub­lic couldn’t get enough of them.”

NICKY PEL­LE­GRINO 2003 – 2006

“My most mem­o­rable story was Jonah Lomu’s wed­ding to his sec­ond wife Fiona. The whole thing was such a big se­cret, I couldn’t even tell the rest of the staff. I had to pre­tend we’d gone to press with a to­tally dif­fer­ent cover story, then sur­prise them the next day.

It was a lovely wed­ding on Wai­heke Is­land and such a big ex­clu­sive that it was my top-sell­ing is­sue as ed­i­tor.

But my real high­light was get­ting a kiss on the cheek from Jonah – a sweet guy and com­pletely gor­geous.”

SIDO KITCHIN 2006 – 2011

“When you’re in the hot seat, I’m sure all ed­i­tors feel like we live and die by our cov­ers. I’d love to say it’s the top sell­ers that are the most mem­o­rable from my five years edit­ing the Weekly, but the ones that kept me awake at night were the fails, the cover sto­ries I thought read­ers would love... but they sim­ply did not! The proof was right there in black and white in the sales.

The Topp Twins, how­ever, have a huge place in Weekly read­ers’ hearts, as I learnt in my first year as ed­i­tor in 2006. When Jools Topp bravely re­vealed she’d been bat­tling breast can­cer and had un­der­gone a mas­tec­tomy, I took the cover to my two bosses, who hotly de­bated my choice, mainly be­cause the twins hadn’t been on the telly for some time. But I was even­tu­ally al­lowed to take the risk and it was my topseller of the year.

Jools spoke frankly about the bru­tal­ity of can­cer, but her trade­mark hu­mour shone through her pain. And read­ers poured out their love to Jools, whose fa­mil­iar face had smiled from the cover in her cow­boy hat and check shirt. Six months later, af­ter chemo­ther­apy, Jools was on the cover again with twin sis­ter Lynda – but this time Jools was com­pletely bald. It was a con­fronting cover im­age for the sen­ti­men­tal Weekly, but al­most ex­actly the same num­ber of women pur­chased the mag­a­zine to find out how Jools was do­ing.

And when we cel­e­brated the 75th an­niver­sary of the Weekly 10 years ago by fea­tur­ing 75 won­der­ful Kiwi women we love, Jools was smil­ing on the cover, where she so rightly be­longed... no ques­tions asked!”

SARAH STU­ART 2011 – 2013

“I had two stints at the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly – one in about 1990 as a ju­nior re­porter un­der the won­der­ful Jenny Lynch, then one as ed­i­tor two decades later. Two very dif­fer­ent events and prob­a­bly the big­gest and the small­est sto­ries I cov­ered stick out for very dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

The first is when I had only been at the Weekly for a short time as a young, awestruck teenage re­porter. I picked up the phone one day to a very recog­nis­able voice on the end of the phone say­ing, ‘Hi, it’s An­gela here. I’m go­ing to get my hair cut later this week

and I won­dered if you would like to come and cover it?’

The An­gela was the re­doubtable An­gela D’Aud­ney, a read­ers’ favourite, very glam­orous, but with very, very short hair. Would we re­ally cover a news­reader’s hair trim? The call did cause a bit of a gig­gle in the news­room, but our savvy news ed­i­tor Me­lanie Jones knew ex­actly what should be done. ‘You’ll cover it!’ she an­nounced. And so I did, learn­ing quickly that a clever celebrity will make a great story with ex­cel­lent quotes no mat­ter how im­ma­te­rial the story may be.

When it comes to big sto­ries at women’s mag­a­zines, wed­dings are al­most al­ways the big­gest. Roy­als are the best of all, so I felt very priv­i­leged to lead a team of 20 as we tack­led the overnight wed­ding of Kate and Wil­liam in 2011. Mean­while, in a de­sign stu­dio across town, Auck­land de­signer Jane Yeh was recre­at­ing Kate’s gown. We emailed im­ages over to Jane so that by 10am the next morn­ing, our sleep-de­prived team could un­veil a full replica to hun­dreds of cheer­ing royal en­thu­si­asts be­fore it set off on a na­tional tour of Farm­ers’ stores. It was a mag­i­cal night to be part of, even from 18,000km away.”

LOUISE WRIGHT- BUSH 2013 – 2014

“Ten days in the ed­i­tor’s chair, with my sec­ond edi­tion printed al­most ready for despatch, ju­nior writer Kelly Ber­trand (now as­sis­tant ed­i­tor) in­ter­rupted a plan­ning meet­ing with news Sir Paul Holmes had passed away. We halted pro­duc­tion, started again and this ded­i­cated ed­i­to­rial team com­piled our trib­ute is­sue to New Zealand’s great­est broad­caster – in three hours.

There were big in­ter­na­tional sto­ries dur­ing my ten­ure: Prince Ge­orge’s birth – the sym­bol of hope and new be­gin­nings for the Bri­tish royal fam­ily; Nigella Law­son’s heart­break­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence case; and An­gelina Jolie’s elec­tive mas­tec­tomy. But it’s the sto­ries of Ki­wis that leave the most com­pelling im­print on me as ed­i­tor.

I still chuckle about my last is­sue, at home with the then Prime Min­is­ter Sir John Key and Bron­agh talk­ing about their 30th wed­ding an­niver­sary. I warmed to her enor­mously – the rib­bing she gave him for his lack of DIY prow­ess, yet love of the wa­ter blaster, was gold! I asked John if he could tell me when Prince Wil­liam and Kate were due in New Zealand. He asked me to guess a date. I did. ‘Don’t book a hol­i­day that week,’ he said. A good news tip from the PM!

Then there was our cover with leg­endary crick­eter

Martin Crowe (June 3, 2013), for the first time in­ter­viewed and pho­tographed with his daugh­ter Emma, then aged

10. Fac­ing mor­tal­ity, time was his cur­rency. For him, even though it was un­spo­ken, I knew this story was part of his legacy.

Martin’s book Raw was about to be pub­lished. As he ate the hearty pie we’d brought to our in­ter­view, he signed me a copy. With my own re­cent di­ag­no­sis, his in­scrip­tion has even more spe­cial mean­ing – “Re­mem­ber, through the gloom, light ap­pears.”

And that’s the thing about the Weekly, ev­ery story of ev­ery New Zealan­der had some emo­tional con­nec­tion to our read­ers. I strongly be­lieve that’s the rea­son this mag­a­zine en­dures.”

FIONA FRASER 2014 – 2016

“A lot of what you do with edit­ing a mag­a­zine like the Weekly is on in­stinct. Some­times you’re way off the mark, other times, it’s a JMC sit­u­a­tion. We had some­thing else planned for our cover at the time, but I re­mem­ber see­ing the pho­tos from Jenny-May Cof­fin’s (as she was then) wed­ding when they first came across my desk and read­ing Alice O’Con­nell’s in­cred­i­bly mov­ing words. I de­cided that this was one of those times when you throw the plan out the win­dow.

We mocked up a cover with Jenny-May and Dean on the front – I think the cover line was ‘The TV Star and the Truck Driver’ – and I took it in to the boss. It was an ab­so­lute win­ner – Jenny-May’s story of this re­ally in­tense love af­fair that be­gan just when she’d al­most given up on find­ing The One tugged on the heart­strings of hope­less ro­man­tics all over the coun­try. Hon­estly, for about six weeks, Jenny-May’s story was all any­one wanted to ask me about.”

The for­mer ac­tress, graphic artist and jour­nal­ist joined the Weekly in 1975, and be­came ed­i­tor in 1987.

The for­mer ed­i­tor, who moved from Eng­land to New Zealand for love, re­mem­bers get­ting a kiss from the late Jonah Lomu as a perk of the job.

Above: Hold the presses! Louise’s trib­ute to the late

Sir Paul Holmes was a quick turn­around. Right: Fiona used in­stinct to guide her de­ci­sions.

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