“I thought being made redundant was the worst thing to ever happen to me. But in hindsight, it has been an absolute blessing in disguise.”
2020 was undoubtedly a year of loss. She who shall not be named caused a lot to be forcefully taken from us, and I’m certain I’m not the only one still lamenting the forfeitures endured through such a gruelling year.
One defeat in particular from last year that left a stale taste in my mouth was the Bauer Media magazine cull that bulldozed the Australian print scene.
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In July last year, international multimedia conglomerate Bauer Media Group shut the doors on eight of Australia’s leading print publications. In one deft move, titles including the national branches of Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and InStyle were wiped out without warning.
An ominous sense of mourning fell over audiences and contributors as a large sum of prominent creatives scrambled to take their talents elsewhere. For those who, like myself, bemoaned this tragic loss in Australian print media for the remainder of 2020 with a disoriented mind and heavy heart, there is hope.
I spoke to influential Australian creatives from these stalwart publications to help fill the hole in our content consumption. Here is what our loyal magazine creatives are up to now and where to find their work.
Noelle Faulkner, freelance writer and editor, formerly contributing Drive editor at Elle Australia
At the time, how was your work at Elle Australia affected by Bauer Media’s announcement to close the print publications?
While I was on Elle’s masthead as a contributing editor (for Elle Drive), I wasn’t on staff. So it didn’t affect me in the same way it did the staff who worked there, but it affected me personally in the sense that I lost a valuable long-time client, one I was proud of working with. But with the closure of Elle specifically, Australia lost yet another smart and dynamic publication – probably the smartest and most dynamic publication for women. Elle had an edge that few publications have been able to replicate.
After the announcement, did you take some time to recuperate or did you dive into other work immediately?
I don’t think many people realise the extent of industry-wide closures, contract cancellations and global freelancer freezes, and how severely they affect freelance and contract workers who suddenly lose everything. It’s very hard to take a break when you’re a freelancer. And when things go pear-shaped, you don’t always have the safety net. You’re often underestimated so people don’t consider you for left-field jobs, you don’t get a redundancy payout when you lose important clients, [and] not everyone is eligible for government benefits. Thankfully, I had a few small clients that kept my cogs oiled.
After the closures, were there any avenues of creative work that opened up that you maybe didn’t consider previously?
There have definitely been some out-of-the-ordinary jobs coming up during the pandemic. I wrote a few essays for art galleries that had to take their exhibitions online, I wrote for and copy-edited a coffee table book for Type 7, [and] I ghostwrote a pilot script and content strategy for a podcast. I also began mentoring a couple of young writers who reached out to me asking for help – which I get a lot of pleasure out of doing. I’m always happy to [help] where I can. DM me @noelleflamingo!
How has your work as a writer and editor evolved alongside the rapid changes in media publishing over the years?
One observation I do have [that’s] worth talking about is the health of the occupation itself. The current media climate and the effects of the pandemic have meant there are more editors with outrageous content KPIs their company’s wallet can’t cash. So publications will take advantage of creatives by asking them to work for free or offering them shitty rates.
Often, accepting these gigs is a symptom of being new to freelancing and not knowing one’s own worth. This behaviour fucks the health of the industry for everyone in the long-term, not to mention, devalues our worth as content creators. Writing is a fucking hard job! It takes time! And skill! And it is worth something!
What are you busy working on now?
Surviving? Is that an answer? [laughs] A mixed bag of things actually: I’ve been doing a lot of insight work and deep dives – consumer behaviour and luxury industry research, that kind of thing. I am working on the future-focused and sustainability-leaning section I edit for luxury/performance car magazine, Evo Australia (where I also have a monthly column). And I’m (VERY slowly) trying to write a book proposal (which I have no idea how to do properly) so there’s that.
Are you still working with magazines?
Yes, some – I am super lucky to have really great editors who make me feel valued and will commission me when their budgets permit, like those at Vogue Australia, Vogue Living, 10 Magazine, Robb Report, Body & Soul, The National Gallery of Australia’s ArtOnView and The Guardian. I also really treasure and admire my editor and publisher at Evo Australia, who basically supported me throughout the entire pandemic.
Where can readers source your work?
Erin Docherty, senior beauty writer at Mamamia, formerly beauty editor at Women’s Health and Men’s Health
How was your work at Women’s Health and Men’s Health Australia affected by the announcement?
I was made redundant from my role [at] Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines. It was my first day at Bauer (we had just crossed over from Pacific Magazines), and I was given a week’s notice. I was shattered when I heard the news. Over the next couple of days, I pretty much wrapped up the content I was writing for the next issue of the two mags (at the time we didn’t know if the titles would close for sure) including the planning of shoots. Sure enough, a few months later the titles closed and the other remaining staff were made redundant.
How did you navigate the initial few days of the magazine closures?
It honestly took a few days for it to all sink in. While I knew there was a possibility that the articles I wrote in that week wouldn’t ever go to print, I think that working towards my last deadline was the distraction I needed. As soon as it was all wrapped up, I got my feelers out to see if I could pick up some freelance work. Like many others, I also had bills to pay. So, I polished up my resume and went on the prowl.
Did this closure of Australian magazines encourage a change of pace in your own work routine?
After my redundancy and the closure of these titles, I picked up some freelance writing work with a couple of different clients, and this was definitely a change of pace for me. It was quite flexible, I was taking on a diverse range of writing projects and I had the freedom to work when and where I wanted. It definitely made me consider the possibility of being a freelance writer and ditching the nine-to-five slog.
What are you up to now?
I’m currently working at Mamamia as the senior beauty writer. While I loved working across print, I always find digital so exciting and fast-paced. I love the immediacy of it all and the fact that no two days are the same. I’m currently working within a team of extremely talented and inspiring women – I really couldn’t picture myself in a better place right now.
Where can readers source your work?
Isobel Larkin, freelance journalist, editor and content creator, formerly digital content editor at Marie Claire & Instyle
How was your work at Marie Claire and InStyle affected by the announcement to close the print publications?
I was made redundant in May of last year. At the time, I had strong suspicions that these closures were on the cards. Needless to say, when the closures were first announced, I was devastated for my colleagues still working at these titles as well as for the loss of these iconic brands that have formed such a huge, irreplaceable part of the Australian mediascape. But, as much as it hurts my heart to say it, I wasn’t surprised to hear about the closures after everything that had happened up to this point.
What are you keeping busy working on now?
I’m launching a new Australian beauty, wellness and style space called The Glow Files. Building the website has taken a little longer than I initially expected (there’s been more than one learning curve so far) but I’m gunning for this to be live within the next couple of months. I’m also freelancing around the place which I am seriously loving. At the time, I thought being made redundant was the worst thing to ever happen to me. But in hindsight, it has been an absolute blessing in disguise. I love working for myself and I love the variety that freelancing gives me.
Where can readers source your work?
I *try* to stay on top of adding recent work to my website. Here you’ll find a collection of everything I love writing from features and opinions to beauty, fashion and wellness. Being a visual person, I also LOVE connecting with people on Instagram. You’ll find me at @isobel_larkin and @the_glowfiles.