Sarah Edwards: My Life In Media

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The Independent Online

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

My friend Katherine told me, aged 13, that journalists jetted around the world interviewing pop stars. Sounded great to me!

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

The Express. I loved Jean Rook and, oddly, the foreign pages.

And what were you favourite TV and radio programmes?

Top of The Pops was unmissable. I thought the Comic Strip Presents' Five Go Mad In Dorset was thrillingly dangerous and every week, I had my tranny glued to my ear during Radio 1's Sunday night Chart Show.

Describe your job

Editing is like being on an emotional roller coaster. A magazine will fail unless the editor is emotionally linked to the brand and feels passionately about the magazine and the readers.

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

Today on Radio 4

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

After an hour of Today, I listen to Johnny Vaughn on Capital. On the train, I tear into all the tabloids and, on Mondays, The Indy and The Guardian. I try to skim the Telegraph for the odd real-life corker it throws up. I give every women's weekly a good going over and as many of the monthlies as I can. Press Gazette and Media Week are regulars and I'm constantly on the Net.

What is the best thing about your job?

The people - the people you meet, the people you work with and the readers. A bit David Brentesque, but true. And I love doing covers.

And the worst?

Being scooped on a great story. It makes me furious. Luckily, it happens rarely...

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Watching the first cover of Reveal, which I launched for ACP-Natmag, come off the presses at 1.30am on a cold industrial estate near Basingstoke.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Putting the wrong number in The Sun for a Valentine's Day phone in. Lots of readers rang the number, which actually belonged to an old lady in Bermondsey.

At home, what do you tune in to?

The Green Wing and Catherine Tate Show make me cackle in a very unladylike fashion. I fit in as much news as I can and Question Time is a must. I watch Animal Planet with my two little girls at the weekends. The X-Factor is a joy. I'm attracted to and repelled by Simon Cowell in equal measure. Why is that?

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

The Sunday Times, Observer, Mail on Sunday, News of The World and the Sunday Mirror. My favourite magazine, apart from Woman and Reveal, is Homes & Gardens. The covers are often works of art.

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

I'd like to be a columnist on a national newspaper.

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

My mate Charlotte, a straight-talking GP, once said the job I'd be least likely to do was aerobics instructor. I love a challenge! Four months later I passed my intructor's exam. So maybe I'd teach aerobics.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Louise Court, editor-in-chief of ACP-Natmag and former editor of Best.

We've known each other for about 12 years and I've learnt so much from her. She is a fantastic journalist and editor - her nose for a story is unparalleled - but is completely down to earth and always generous.

The CV

1988 News and court reporter, Fleet Street News Agency.

1989 Freelance news reporter, the Sun and News Of The World.

1990 Feature writer, News Of The World.

1992 Feature writer, the Sun. Diving with sharks, wing-walking on a biplane, and training as a knife-thrower's assistant were a laugh - according to the picture desk.

1994 Features editor, That's Life!, H. Bauer.

1996 Acting editor, That's Life!

1997 Special projects editor, H. Bauer. Spent years in dingy, soundproof rooms working with small teams on possible publishing sensations.

2001 Freelanced for variety of titles from House Beautiful to Woman's Own.

2004 Launches Reveal for ACP-Natmag. Resigned after successful ABC period to seek title with more lifestyle content and more regular hours.

2005 Editor, Woman, IPC Media.