B&T’s editor in chief, David Hovenden, ruminates on who should take the somewhat “poisoned chalice” of boss of Pac Mags. And he says there’s clearly only one candidate…
Let’s face it, Peter Zavecz’s departure from Pacific Mags was one of the worst kept secrets in the industry. Even his move to News Corp was widely reported long before the actual announcement last this week.
For those of us in the industry news game, the bigger sport has been trying to figure out who Zavecz’s successor will be.
Like all industry hacks, I’ve been working my contacts, keeping my ear to the ground listening for the slightest inkling as to who might get the nod. Will it be an internal candidate? Or will Seven West Media fall for the temptation of a shiny new executive they hope can turn around the fortunes of the flagging magazine business?
If you look at the field, there’s an internal candidate that stands out for me. Jackie Frank has been with Pacific since the beginning. Well, technically she was with marie claire from the beginning, editing the title since it’s first edition in Australia way back in 1995 when it was launched by Matt Handbury’s Murdoch Magazines.
A quick scan of her LinkedIn profile shows you a list as long as your arm of awards she has subsequently won. She took service journalism to new heights adopting campaigns from women’s rights to marriage equality to preventing violence against children.
She embraced subjects her audience were passionate about and made marie claire a vehicle through which things got done.
Commercially too, she achieved a lot early on. Tapping into the food market once again back in the 1990s, she teamed up with a young Donna Hay and produced a series of best selling cook books under the marie claire brand.
Fast forward 20 years and Jackie Frank is still up to her elbows in magazines, but she does so now under the auspices of general manager. She’s also a regular on TV thanks to Pacific’s stable mate Seven and has an intimate understanding of how that business works and the challenges it too faces.
I’m lucky enough to have known Jackie for pretty much all of her career and as such was able to ask her the direct question of whether she has her hat in the ring for Zavecz’s job.
However, her response to me was shocking. She immediately ruled herself out of contention claiming she wasn’t being considered. This from one of the most indomitable women in Australia’s media; if she feels ineligible is there any woman who feels right for the job?
Why Frank would make a hero in some of Pacific’s darkest days is simple: she lives and breathes content. Like Tyler Brule, Frank isn’t afraid to embrace print as a medium worth owning. She’s not trying to turn the magazines into website apologists but is rather loving what they offer.
In these times where it seems Facebook and Google are set to lay waste to everything in their ever-widening paths, passion and commitment to what you’re doing is more than a virtue. Two traits Jackie Frank has in spades.