My Life In Media: Rosie Boycott

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The Independent Online

Rosie Boycott, 53, is a writer and broadcaster.

Rosie Boycott, 53, is a writer and broadcaster. She studied pure maths at Kent University for one and a half terms before moving to London and founding the feminist magazine Spare Rib, aged 20. She was one of the experts on BBC1's 'Test the Nation' and appears regularly on 'The Late Review'. She has one daughter, and is a trustee of Warchild.

So what inspired you to embark a career in the media?

Back in 1970 I thought the media was the way you changed the world and I took a job on an underground newspaper ( Frendz). I thought "this is wonderful, this is for me".

When you were 15 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

The Times. It was a bit "straight" - as we'd put it in the counter culture - but I did read it, from curiosity.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

I liked Doctor Who, Z Cars, Tomorrow's World. At [Cheltenham Ladies'] school we were only allowed Top of the Pops on a Thursday. I quickly got into political books - Che Guevara, Marx - and then 1960s novelists like Richard Brautigan.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

The Today programme, still, The Guardian, and The Times, because my husband likes the legal section.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

I read the [London Evening] Standard during the day. The Guardian website is good. If it's a good news day then I'll watch Sky News at 5pm, the BBC at 6pm and Channel 4 at 7pm.

What is the best thing about your job?

It's varied. I can write a lot and go to lectures and literary festivals.

And the worst?

Needing a lot of self-discipline, otherwise you get nothing done. When there's a really big news story I wish I was working on a newspaper again.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Starting Spare Rib was terrifically exciting - we had no money, nothing but a lot of passion and determination. At the Express we raised huge amounts of money for the Sudan and Kosovo and got the law changed on the pension increase.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Being sent off third on The Weakest Link. Anne Robinson asked me how I had ever been editor of a newspaper.

At home, what do you tune in to?

Sometimes I'll watch News at Ten and Newsnight; also Question Time, though it does tend to irritate me. I'm a news junkie and am interested in the way channels cover the same story.

Aside from news: tennis matches, Nip/Tuck, Sex and the City and BBC2 quasi-historical documentaries.

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

We buy The Sunday Times in the evening. I read The Spectator, because it's well written and funny, Vogue, and The New Yorker and Vanity Fair for their great reads.

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

Journalists often think they haven't had proper jobs: I suppose there's a part of me which would quite like a "real job"; I just don't know what.

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

If I was starting again I would work for an NGO in a trouble zone - the Balkans, the Middle East.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Jon Snow, because he's stuck to what he believes in and got what he believes into his job. Kirsty Wark, for her curiosity and consummate professionalism; Jenni Murray for the same reasons. Finally, Alan Rusbridger, because The Guardian continues to be inquisitive and thoughtful in its approach to news.


1971: Joins underground magazine 'Frendz' as a junior editor

1971: Co-founder and editor of feminist magazine 'Spare Rib'.

1973: Founds Virago Press. Spends three weeks in a Thai prison after being arrested on a cannabis smuggling charge.

1984: Releases her autobiography, 'A Nice Girl Like Me', in which she relates her battle against alcohol and drugs. Joins the 'Daily Mail'.

1992: Became editor of 'Esquire'. 1996: Appointed editor of 'The Independent on Sunday', becoming the first woman to edit a national broadsheet.

1998: Appointed editor of 'The Independent': the first woman to edit a national daily

1998: Leaves The Independent after two months to edit 'The Express'. Left in January 2001. 2004: She presented Radio 2's 'Night Waves' in May.