UNDER THE COVERS
Secrets of a Magazine Editor
‘This memoir is no nostalgic, dewy-eyed trip down memory lane. How could it be? We were hardly angels. There was booze. Some people had permanent hangovers. There were blow-ups. A colleague hurled a typewriter out of a window.’ – Jenny Lynch, Under the Covers: Secrets of a Magazine Editor
Lifting the lid on the glossy world of magazine journalism, Jenny Lynch reveals what really went on behind closed doors in her revealing memoir, Under the Covers: Secrets of a Magazine Editor. From closely guarded secrets to the politics of print media, common myths, mishaps, squabbles, restructures and reader diatribes, Lynch surveys her colourful life in magazines. She also comments about the seismic changes which have swept through editorial offices and newsrooms in recent years, not least the rise of cheque book journalism.
‘What journalists did and how we did it in the newsrooms and editorial offices of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s is light years away
from the way things are done now . . . But those three decades form a colourful slice of New Zealand media history. And I want to make a record of them. I want people to know what it was like to be part of what is sometimes remembered as the golden years of print journalism,’ says Lynch. Those golden years included feature writing on the Weekly News – a venerable magazine run like a gentlemen’s club. Lynch joined as it was struggling to cope with changing times and even its eccentric characters couldn’t prevent the magazine’s demise in 1971. She moved to its replacement – an improbable attempt at tabloid journalism called the Sunday Herald. Lynch’s memoir details her adventures on the short-lived newspaper, which included a helter-skelter car trip through the North Island with outspoken feminist Germaine Greer, who had an appointment in the Auckland Magistrates Court. After it folded, she worked on Thursday magazine – brainchild of feminist journalist Marcia Russell – where her
targets included back street abortion and calling up the dead.
Despite its conservative reputation, it wasn’t all ‘Over the Teacups’ and Pixie Pages at the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly. The magazine also had an audacious, controversial, saucy side. There were royal scandals and celebrity gossip, and Weekly readers lapped it up.
Peppered with the names of the famous and the fleeting, Lynch recalls the fun and challenges of working as a magazine journalist, not least, her turbulent years helming the Weekly; one of New Zealand’s most iconic and beloved magazines. Full of drama and intrigue, Lynch also recounts the Weekly’s battle for dominance in what became known as The Magazine Wars, fought against a backdrop of management turbulence and ownership changes.
Candid, personal and compelling, Lynch’s memoir pays tribute to New Zealand’s most popular magazine, her colleagues, the Weekly’s loyal readers and long-standing Weekly Editor, the inimitable Jean Wishart.
JENNY LYNCH worked in magazine journalism for more than 30 years and her career also included working as an actress, photographic model, television production assistant and ‘Bunny’ at the Melbourne Playboy. Born in Auckland, Lynch was educated at Epsom Girls’ Grammar and in the US. While overseas, she worked for a Canadian newspaper and Australian television. Although principally a feature writer, Lynch gained wide experience in various other magazine roles, including
columnist, fashion writer, theatre critic and layout designer. She became Assistant Editor of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly in 1977 and Editor in 1987. She led the magazine for seven years and is the author of three previous non-fiction books. Lynch lives in Auckland with her husband Gavin Ellis and their cat Rufus.
Published by Mary Egan Publishing; 15 May 2020; RRP: $38.00