Getting to the bottom of Australian Women’s Weekly

Bosoms and bottom cheeks. That’s the flip side of the Australian Women’s Weekly (AWW) this month. The elegant and gracious Princess Mary and her girls on the front cover (with a creepy Prince Fred hand on her shoulder but no Prince Fred) and butt cheeks and boobs on the back. Every time I walk past it, face down on my couch I do a double take. It so annoyed me I even commented on their facebook page about it.

Australian Women’s Weekly and Editor Helen McCabe have come under fire a bit in the last 12 months. First for the Turia Pitt cover, that some found too confronting and most lately for the Alison McHugh, mistress of convicted killer Gerard Baden-Clay, edition. The interview attracted scathing and outrage. A fully made up and glamourized mistress with tears in her eyes and a story to tell. Imagine what the response would have been if they ran her image on the front cover as they had originally planned. Many called for a boycott of the magazine that paid the mistress a purported $250,000 for her story.

Has one of the grand dame mags of Australia’s magazine mafia lost the plot? I have no problem with boobs and butts in general but I do feel like it’s out of context with the magazine’s image. Have they lost the plot? Probably not. Probably, they’re trying to survive and stand out in a crowded magazine market where every publication fights for limited advertising dollars, across multiple traditional and social media platforms and devices.

The Turia Pitt cover attracted 2.3 million readers. Royal wedding copies attract 4 million readers. I couldn’t find stats for the Alison McHugh edition but I suspect they would be somewhere in between the two. That’s a lot of magazines and a lot of revenue.

And that is Helen McCabe’s job. To sell as many copies of AWW each month as possible. To satisfy Bauer Media, boards, bosses, shareholders and her audience. It’s a broad mix of people with a wide range of agendas that she has to keep happy and I don’t envy her. While I can’t say I agree with some of her choices like butt cheeks and boobs on the back cover, I’m not the one trying to keep a magazine at the top of the pile.