Just Seventeen’s office resembles a teenage girl’s bedroom. It is
messy, the music is loud and the walls are adorned with posters of teen
heart-throbs such as Joe from EastEnders and Brad Pitt.
But although its readers’ interests - make-up, pop-stars and snogging -
change little, the magazine itself has just undergone a serious
For the first time in its 13-year history Just Seventeen has gone
The May issue retains the garish pinks and purples of its weekly
predecessor, but it’s now called J-17 and has adopted a more
heavyweight, glossy format.
Baker explains the positioning is somewhere in between the girls’ titles
Bliss and Sugar, and entertainment titles such as Smash Hits and Top of
the Pops Magazine.
’Our core reader is 14 years old and isn’t a navel-gazer. She doesn’t
want to be grown-up but wants to be cool,’ says Baker, wincing at the
Previously selling around 130,000 as a weekly, publisher Emap Elan hopes
that J-17 will sustain a monthly circulation of over 320,000.
Baker joined as editor last September. And although this was her first
foray into the teen-mag market she certainly looks the part in her black
outfit and Doctor Martens boots.
’I love it,’ she says, describing herself as ’not a particularly
Baker started out in book publishing but became disillusioned and moved
into journalism by joining Chat as an editorial assistant before
becoming properly ’blooded’ on real-life story magazine Take A
She says after a year she’d ’had quite enough of tragic depressing
Baker describes her subsequent position as features editor on New Woman
as a ’dream job’ at the time. ’I had wanted to work on a monthly and
admired New Woman’s policy of tackling controversial subject areas.’
But her editorial ambition won through when she was approached to head
up Just Seventeen: ’The mag’s got such an amazing history and strong
brand identity. It’s the epitome of teen spirit.’
’It was a real culture shock for the first few months. I didn’t
understand a lot of the headlines and I needed to watch a lot more
Her advice to PR people targeting the magazine is to do so more
’We often get information on pet foods and this morning we received a
press pack on Cowes Week,’ she says in despair.
Despite the new upmarket format, Baker is determined to retain J-17’s
long-held values as demonstrated by her view on those subtle and low
profile Spice Girls: ’Anybody who says you can do what you want and
don’t need to take any shit, is okay by me.’
Baker’s long term ambition is to leave J-17 in good shape and spend some
time working in New York. ’It’s one of the things you’ve just got to
do,’ she says.
In the meantime she believes that she can at least give the likes of
rivals Bliss, Sugar and Smash Hits a run for their money.
1991 Features writer, Chat
Features writer, Take A Break
Deputy editor, New Woman