Paper Giants: mags, journalism and old stories

Nikki Parkinson Fashion 38 Comments

There once was a little girl – oh, ok, she was 23 – who got sent to interview Australian female media icon Ita Buttrose.

This, umm, young woman, was seriously nervous.  More nervous than any time to date in her newspaper career.  More nervous than “starring” in a movie alongside Kylie Minogue (true story, she was an extra on the set of The Delinquents.  What you haven’t heard of Kylie’s big screen debut?  Hold on while I post you a video). More nervous than covering the local magistrates court on a Monday morning (where in a small town this girl rightly feared having to write about people who could easily track you down).

See, ever since this little girl bought her first magazine aged 12 (yes, it was Dolly), all she’d ever wanted to do was work on one.

By the time she was 23, she had graduated to a monthly diet of Cosmo and Cleo and the thought of sitting opposite the very founder of her favourite magazine, was enough to make her come over all peaky.    But she pulled herself together, asked herself, “what WOULD Ita do?”, freshened her lippie and got on with the job at hand.

Her reward was this, dear Stylers. .  Yes, once upon a time, newspapers were all printed in black and white.  None of this colour malarkey.

My Ita Buttrose moment

Now, I know a gazillion stories have been penned about Ita but did any ever dig so deep … as to uncover that she liked to get her hands dirty.  Riveting stuff, hey?

Anyway.

My Ita crush has been re-visited this week with the screening of the only TV program of late that has actually seen me step away from the computer and sit in front the telly. Like on the lounge. Not at my desk, just listening to the TV and occasionally glancing in its general direction.

Paper Giants.  Oh, ABC, I love it when you dish up such meaty goodness.

You gave us a fly-on-the-wall view of women’s magazines in the ’70s with a faultless cast of actors (Asher Keddie, you had me at Love My Way all those years ago and I will seriously follow you to any show you put your name to).

You also made me feel like I hadn’t actually missed out on a hell of a lot in my journalism career.

1. Yes, I too, had to write the horoscope on more than one occasion when they didn’t arrive via post for publication.  Let’s just say that Geminis were more likely to meet a mysterious man and be offered a job in an exotic location on those particular days.

2.  Yes, it was a common occurrence in many of my years in a newsroom that going to the toilet or making a coffee was grounds for someone to take your chair.  It was especially ill-advised to relieve or revive yourself if your chair was half-way comfortable to sit on.  If it was actually adjustable and swiveled around, you prayed NOT to be sent out of the office on a story for it would be doubtful you’d see that chair again.

3.  Typewriters did actually exist.  And not as quaint interior design pieces.

4.  Bosses did yell.  A lot.

What I did miss out on was walking into an office of women looking like they could be featuring in the magazine they’re working on.  And that, Stylers, was the absolute bonus with Paper Giants. The genius behind the wardrobe, Nina Edwards, had me drooling over outfit after outfit.

Paper Giants ABC TV

Now that's one editorial table, I'd loved to have sat around

It almost made me want to dive right back into the ’70s (well except for those high-waist pants.  Sorry, camel-toe, can’t do). If you fancy re-creating a Paper Giants look at home, try these suggestions on for size:

Paper Giants inspired Ita Buttrose 1970s fashion

1.  Sacha Drake Joy Wrap Dress $239

2.  Wittner Beatrix heels $169.95

3.  Sportsgirl pearl framed stud $9.95

4.  Oroton Emeril Tote, was $695, currently $490

5.  Sportscraft Marie Military Trench $329

6.  Mimco Pompadour sunglasses $199

Need more of a Paper Giant fix, head over to the ABC shop and pre-order the DVD.  It’s conveniently available just before my birthday.

So, did you love Paper Giants?  Do you work in magazines?  Spill.

And if would like to have some real world fashion advice straight from the catwalk? Then I’d love you to give me your vote to send me to RAFW.

Comments 38

  1. Loved Paper Giants..have been an admirer of Itas’ for years…How cool and exciting.  Hard work and lack of bathroom breaks have made their rewards for you now 😀

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  2. The part that made me laugh the most in Paper Giants was when Kerry gave Ita money to buy a new dress and burn the one she was wearing because it was hideous.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

  3. I freelanced off and on for ACP magazines for around 20 years, but although I visited the offices a few times to do the rounds with editors and staff etc, I never worked there. I did however work in magazines and in their offices in the UK for a few years. It was AMAZING. In one office, people were still allowed to smoke, there was no air-conditioning, and yes, the bosses yelled and swore and said sexist things. It was also a time where everything was paid for: lunches, black cabs to interviews, movies, launches the lot. Every now and then they would clear out the fashion room and we would get to buy the clothes for a coin donation to charity. (Unfortunately being short and very tiny back then, not a lot fit me). We had casual editorial meetings, where we had to ‘sell’ our story ideas to the features editor, and the overall ed would drop in with wine to fuel our imagination.
    Oh the memories.
    Oh and I got to interview Ita once too, but only over the phone.
    I loved Paper Giants, can’t wait for the next series.

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      Such a great series, Bron, and the UK experience sounds incredible! Those were the days. When I started in journalism in Australia there was smoking in the newsroom too. Think it was about 1990 or 1991 that it was made illegal. Journos were not happy!

  4. Loved Paper Giants.

    Never wrote my own horoscopes, however I am totally guilty of inserting the names of friends in the TV Guide. “Pretty Woman” starring Julia Roberts and my husband etc etc. Small things amuse small minds…

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  5. Love love love it Nikki (and love the “you had me at Love My Way comment”). I can just see this blog post being created from the very first scene of Paper Giants…even if you did resist the urge to hop from the couch and sit at your desk again! ;o)

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  6. I missed it and will miss part 2 but as soon as it is out on DVD it will be mine. I have a massive mag collection (refuse to bin them, they are all in great condition)… Ita Buttrose is just amazing…

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  7. Love this post. The clothes suggestions were fab too.

    The story you did made me giggle and I can so imagine your nerves before interviewing the queen of magazines! I remember having to interview the CEO of News Limited about the end of financial year figures. My hands would be shaking – I wanted to ask tough questions, but not too tough to get into trouble!

    The parts in the mini series showing Kerry’s temper rang true too. The folklore in newspaper about the Packers and Editors in News Limited were, and still are, legendary. I used to have an Editor who would throw objects at people’s heads during news conferences if they didn’t have stories. Hilarious!

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