News Corp Australia’s weekly magazine, Stellar, celebrates its fifth birthday this Sunday. August 29th will see the release of a special anniversary issue featuring a cover story on Olympic golden girl, Ariarne Titmus.
Mediaweek spoke to Sarrah Le Marquand, editor-in-chief of Stellar, about how the magazine got here and what’s in store for the future.
Le Marquand says that even though so much has changed over the last five years, the core of Stellar is still the same.
“What hasn’t changed, is that the original brief when we launched was that we wanted to kickstart the conversation on Sunday morning.
“I was always very determined to focus largely on Australian stories. We do feature a lot of international talent. And we’ve had a lot of big international names on the cover, everyone from Julia Roberts, through to Janet Jackson, through to Usain Bolt. But the DNA really is Australian stories and telling those stories.”
While there are things about Stellar that haven’t changed, there are also things that have evolved and grown over time.
“The things that have evolved over the years have just been different things that we’ve introduced. Travel became really important for a while – obviously, as we speak today, it’s not such a big pressing priority – but it’s clearly something that Australians are still dreaming about. It’s not a core part of the title at the moment, but it certainly was, and I’m sure it will become again.
“The reader focus on lifestyle and home in particular has grown, we’ve got Shaynna Blaze and Barry Du Bois as our columnists. That’s been a big growth category, both editorially and commercially.
“I think what we’ve become quite known for is, I wouldn’t call it a makeover, but I would call it a bit of a wow factor – taking people that people know really well and doing something quite dramatic with them in terms of how we photograph them. I think that’s something that’s evolved over the last two years.”
The anniversary issue features an interview and exclusive photoshoot with Ariarne Titmus on the cover.
“I’d like to think the stars really aligned in this,” says Le Marquand. “Our very first cover was Elle MacPherson. We shot her on location in Queensland, and she was shot in a gold gown by a pool. I remember picking that photograph because it seemed to me quintessentially Australian, which was something that I really wanted to talk to, from that very first issue.
“Ariarne Titmus is a soon-to-be an iconic Australian, certainly she became an overnight household name. She’s in a gold dress, and she’s by the water, so it ticked a lot of boxes for us. And of course, also the fact that she’s so newsy – she only came out of quarantine mid last week.
“It felt right for us and right for the readers as a bit of a full circle moment, five years on.”
Even after reaching such a major milestone, there is no rest for the wicked.
“I’ll probably take Sunday to go ‘Yay! Five years! I have the best team, how amazing. Thank you to everyone that’s worked with us. What next? How do we top this?’ That’s what we give ourselves in this industry, right? Maybe half a day to pat ourselves on the back, then it’s onwards and upwards.”
Le Marquand says that looking ahead, there are a number of projects she’s looking forward to taking on.
“We’ve made inroads in podcasting, we did launch our first podcast at the end of February with Samantha Armytage. Something To Talk About with Samantha Armytage has been very successful, I’d love to grow on that. We’ll probably look at launching additional podcasts in the new year.
“In terms of digital, our focus is driving subscriptions for our parent newspapers and the parent company, News Corp Australia.
“We’re looking at a YouTube channel for Stellar TV later this year, and we’d really love to do some more in that space next year. We do think that the access we get is genuinely unparalleled with any other media outlet in Australia, and we’d love to capitalise a bit more on that in terms of video.”