Magazine legend Ita Buttrose has just been named Australian of the Year. She speaks to Encore about the launch of Elle magazine, the second installment of Paper Giants and the future of tablet publishing.
You’ve just been named the 2013 Australian of the year. How does that feel?
It feels pretty good actually. It was a big surprise when the PM read out my name because I was there with many other distinguished Australians who have all contributed in so many ways to shaping the nation. You’re in very good company when you’re a finalist in the Australian of the Year and you think, that’s my name. Goodness. So it was very exciting and quite a moving time for me. Somebody said to me ‘you looked a bit emotional’ and I said ‘well, it is an emotional moment to be called Australian of the year’.
You’ve also just signed up to be one of Priceline’s ‘health sisters’. What made you get involved with the campaign?
I like organisations that encourage women to think about their health and fitness. I’m really passionate about health and fitness and the Priceline campaign has a large focus on health and feeling good about yourself.
Coming up later this year is the second installment of Paper Giants: Magazine Wars which looks at the relationship between magazine greats Nene King and Dulce Boling. The first mini series was based very much on your life. Have you been involved with the second series?
I did get a call from one of the scriptwriters some time last year and I think they had originally planned to do a small segment where I’m actually leaving the Packers and they’re looking for somebody to replace me, which is how they ultimately got to Nene. Although she didn’t exactly replace me. She came much later. Dawn Swain actually got the job but they take a bit of liberty with these things. I know the players. I know Dulce Boling very well because she was running New Idea when I was at the helm of The Weekly. She’s a great woman, Dulce, and a very private person. She’s never really been in the public arena so I’m not quite sure how she would be viewing what’s going on.
Speaking of magazines, Bauer recently announced its plans to launch Elle. How do you think the title will fare?
It shows you that they have confidence in the magazine industry. It’s a very positive sign. Everybody in the magazine industry take heart. It will be interesting to see where they position it because we certainly have a lot of titles available for women and sometimes some of them look a little bit alike. Long term, there might be moves to merge two of them or suspend one. I don’t know what’s on Bauer’s mind but you look at it all and think, where’s that pitched? That will be the interesting thing, to see where it appeals and to see what the advertising industry does with it. They’re launching in springtime and that has traditionally been a good time to launch a magazine because you get lots of ads at that time of year.
When you spoke to Encore’s sister title Mumbrella in July last year you mentioned you might bring back Ita magazine as a tablet-only publication. Is that still a possibility, especially given you are on the board of tablet publishing company Reddo, which powers Encore?
Every time I go over to Reddo and see the things we are doing, the adrenalin starts to bubble. I am a junkie. There’s no doubt about it. I do love magazines. I think tablets can bring your costs down a lot and there’s a growing market. I don’t think print’s going to disappear. But I certainly think there’ll be more tablets. Some titles will go to tablets and grow. We’re still learning how to make money out of this kind of technology but it’s there and it does open new doors. It allows you to do things you can’t do in traditional print and it’s really an exciting development. It’s not the end of the world as we all know it.
This feature first appeared in the tablet edition of Encore. To download click on the links below.