CV: MARK FRITH Editor, Sky magazine

`The year was 1988 and students were still getting over the demise of The Smiths - so I slagged off Morrissey just to piss them off'

When I was 14 I was obsessed by music - I thought I might work in a record shop - but my mum said: "You read lots of magazines, don't you? You should be a journalist." And I was obsessively into magazines, buying three or four a week - my favourites were Smash Hits and No 1.

I tried to get on a media course, but was turned down for all of them, because I got bad A-level grades. Eventually, I got on to a cultural studies course at what was the Polytechnic of East London, and on my first day there I saw a poster advertising the college magazine, Overdraft. And I thought: "This is it."

In my second week I went gingerly to the editor and said that I wanted to write about music for the magazine. He was a bit stroppy, but I won him over and ended up doing the music section. The year was 1988, and students were getting over the demise of The Smiths - Morrissey was still the student icon. But I was a real Stock Aitken & Waterman fan, so I wrote articles slagging off Morrissey just to piss people off.

So the music section got its own character, and the magazine became quite good. At the end of my first year, I got elected editor, taking a year out of my course. For the first two months I edited a handbook full of welfare advice for new students, and then I did the magazine for the rest of the year. I also entered the Guardian's student journalist awards, and was a runner-up for Student Journalist of the Year, which boosted my confidence.

Then, in my last weeks as editor, I realised that I didn't want to go back to my course. So I made a list of my 12 favourite magazines, one of them being Smash Hits, and sent them all stuff that I'd done for the magazine. And I was very lucky: I sent it off on a Friday, and the following Monday an ad for a staff writer on Smash Hits appeared in the paper. Basically, they'd obviously had this huge box in their office marked "Applications for staff writer job", and on that Monday one sad letter dropped into it - my speculative application. I don't know whether the editor at the time was too lazy to read the others, but he opened mine and liked what he saw.

In May 1990, he got me in for two weeks' work experience, and I stayed, working my way up from junior writer to reviews editor, to acting features editor. And eventually, when I was 23, I became the youngest editor Smash Hits had had at that time. But sales were going down all the time - through no fault of our own, I like to think. It was just that it wasn't a very exciting time for pop music. But still, I was judging myself on the performance of the magazine, and after I'd been editor for a year and a half, I thought I was unemployable.

I started to look around. I'd always liked Sky but I thought, towards the mid-Nineties, that it wasn't as good as it used to be. I then went on holiday for a week, and got a bit bored, so I spent four days making notes as to what I thought Sky should be. Then, about three weeks after I got back, there was an announcement that the old editor was leaving, and I went for the job.

I took over in November 1995, when sales were at about 155,000. We had an ABC earlier this year of 173,000, and the next should be near 190,000. So it's been a good two years, and I think we've really sharpened what the magazine is about. Before, it was seen as a weird, mid-20s style magazine, but it's become a twentysomething entertainment and popular culture bible. Our readers are on the edge of adulthood, and I think Sky has caught the feeling that anything is possible and put it in front of people, made it look exciting. But there's still a job for me here to see how much further I can push the title.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager (EMEA) - City, London

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine