My Life In Media: Alexandra Shulman

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The Independent Online

Alexandra Shulman, 47, is editor of British 'Vogue'. The daughter of the drama critic Milton Shulman and the former 'Brides' editor Drusilla Beyfus, she studied kinship patterns in New Guinea at university - "I'd have preferred being a secretary in an office" - before entering magazine journalism. She has an MBE for services to the magazine industry and a son, Sam, 10.

Alexandra Shulman, 47, is editor of British 'Vogue'. The daughter of the drama critic Milton Shulman and the former 'Brides' editor Drusilla Beyfus, she studied kinship patterns in New Guinea at university - "I'd have preferred being a secretary in an office" - before entering magazine journalism. She has an MBE for services to the magazine industry and a son, Sam, 10.

What inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

My father was a journalist for 50 years and always thought it was a wonderful job, so I caught some of that from him. I used to visit my mother's magazine offices (first Brides, then Vogue) when I was a teenager and everyone seemed to be having a nice time. When I got a temporary job as a secretary on Over21 magazine I thought it was worth trying to keep it.

When you were 15, what was the family paper and did you read it?

My father got all the papers every morning and I would read most of them, although I never really read the Daily Express, aside from the William Hickey column.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Top of the Pops and any radio station that played pop music. I loved Radio Caroline.

Which media do you turn to first thing in the morning?

The Today programme. I switch it on immediately after the alarm goes and spend about 15 minutes listening in a semi-conscious state. Then I can't remember what I heard and what I dreamt. I get The Guardian at home and then read the Telegraph in the office. Going to work I alternate between Today and Nick Ferrari on LBC, who is both brilliant and appalling.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

No. I'd love to read more papers but I don't have the time.

What is the best thing about your job?

The ability to put any idea I want into a magazine for other people to read. It's a huge privilege to have that kind of power and Vogue in particular has enormous influence in its field.

And the worst?

Talking to people all day, every day. Sometimes I just long to be silent.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Being made editor of Vogue and keeping the job for 12 years - and remaining relatively sane.

And most embarrassing moment?

I genuinely can't remember any really embarrassing ones.

At home, what do you tune in to?

I spend a lot of time watching Sky News and I'm a huge fan of Adam Boulton. Other than that I don't watch a great deal of telly, although occasionally I get hooked on things like Footballers' Wives. I watch MTV in the gym and listen to quite a lot of Radio 4.

What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?

I read all the Sunday papers and most enjoy The Observer. I like their food and music supplements and their review section. Roger Alton is a good editor; there is some fun and spirit behind the pages. I like Word magazine because it deals with a lot of musicians I admire and their free compilation CDs are often first class. I have The New Yorker by my bed to dip into. The resources they have allow the writers to write pieces that you don't find here. I also enjoy Tatler.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire?

Write a book - but maybe when I retire. I'd also like to work in the retail business in some way.

If you didn't work in the media what would you do?

As little as possible.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

I admire Andrew Marr for his huge output and Vicki Woods for her journalism. I worked with her on Tatler during the 1980s and she could turn any subject into something funny and riveting.

CV

1982: After beginning her career as a secretary in the record industry, she moves to Over 21 magazine before joining Condé Nast as a commissioning editor at Tatler. She is appointed features editor in 1984.

1987: Joins The Sunday Telegraph, editing its women's page. Soon given editorship of its 7 Days magazine.

1988: Joins Vogue as features editor.

1990: Appointed editor of GQ.

1992: Becomes editor of Vogue. Wins the Periodical Publishers Association's Editor of the Year award in 1996 and in 2001 PPA names Vogue its Consumer Magazine of the Year. She was commended for December 2000's "Gold Issue", which is a collector's item. Vogue's circulation during her 13-year editorship has risen from 20,000 to 200,000.

2005: She is awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours List, with Downing Street describing Vogue as "pre-eminent among women's magazines".

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