MEDIA: Profile: Taking a serious view of health - Charlotte Packer, editor, Real Health and Beauty

Sometimes you can pick up on the nation’s zeitgeist by looking at magazine shelves. Last year, there was a wave of interior and home interest magazines flooding the market. This year it’s health that seems to be the national obsession. We have seen ZM, Women’s Health and Vital launch in the last three months and, this week, Attic Futura launched Real Health and Beauty under the editorship of Charlotte Packer.

Sometimes you can pick up on the nation’s zeitgeist by looking at

magazine shelves. Last year, there was a wave of interior and home

interest magazines flooding the market. This year it’s health that seems

to be the national obsession. We have seen ZM, Women’s Health and Vital

launch in the last three months and, this week, Attic Futura launched

Real Health and Beauty under the editorship of Charlotte Packer.



Packer only joined the magazine a month ago and has had to turn around

the first issue on a skeleton staff, but as Real Health and Beauty is

bi-monthly she is hoping to have the magazine more settled by the second

issue next January.



Her old colleagues do not doubt her ability in this respect. ’Charlotte

is very inspirational. She has got the ability to look round a story and

find an angle that no-one else has thought of,’ says Harriet O’Brien,

who heads up the lifestyle section of the Independent Weekend and who

used to oversee Packer. ’I also think that the experience she has had

outside journalism will be a huge help to her as an editor, giving her

the depth that some first time editors just don’t have,’ she adds.



Packer’s experience outside journalism includes a year as a paralegal,

work in various art galleries, some extensive globetrotting and a stint

at the small PR consultancy Thornton Associates. While she was there she

met journalists for the first time. ’I was stunned at how unspeakably

rude some journalists could be,’ she explains. ’They’d just hang up on

you in the most insulting way for no good reason. That’s what made me

decide to become a journalist - I thought that if idiots like that could

do it then I certainly could.’



She started freelancing for a local Chelsea magazine called The

Resident.



Her boss Jill Thornton encouraged her and, after getting a few features

published, she won a place on the London College of Printing’s intensive

three month journalism course. Almost immediately afterwards, she began

working for The Independent on the Weekend section and found herself on

the phone to her old comrades in arms in the PR field.



’I try not to be rude to PR people,’ she says. ’I think they’re

essential and any journalist who says otherwise is missing out on a lot.

There’s no way I could get the level of knowledge about what’s going on

in my area without them.’



Real Health and Beauty is the UK version of an Australian title called

Women’s Health. They will carry some similar editorial, but Packer plans

to avoid the obsession with plastic surgery that our cousins down under

have.



Real Health has an older demographic than Attic Futura’s welter of teen

’zines like Sugar and TV Hits, aiming at early-30s women. The heart of

the magazine will be the features section, which Packer hopes will be

weighty and serious. She also hopes to give the magazine a clean, modern

feel.



’I want to treat the reader with respect. There is a demand for an

intelligent health magazine at the moment, and I hope this will be the

one.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1996

Shopping editor, Independent Weekend section

1997

Features editor, Beautiful Living

1998

Editor, Real Health and Beauty



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