July 31, 2011

AUSTRALIA: Older and wiser, a survivor returns

SYDNEY, NSW / The Sydney Morning Herald / Life & Style / People / July 31, 2011

Older and wiser, a survivor returns

By Jo Casamento

Women relate to me ... Nene King. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

AFTER years in the wilderness, the grand doyenne of Australian women's magazines, Nene King, is returning to the place where she began her career, New Idea.

The woman who went on to edit Women's Weekly and become Woman's Day's most successful editor - increasing its sales by 400,000 - has returned to New Idea as an agony aunt.

In the magazine, out tomorrow, King, 68, says she has finally found happiness and is more than qualified to give advice.

She tragically lost her husband Patrick Bowring in a mysterious diving accident in 1996 , which led to post traumatic stress disorder and years of addiction and depression. She also lost all her money.

''I've made so many mistakes, made such a fool of myself at different times,'' she tells the magazine.

''After all, I went from being the highest-paid woman in Australia to being on the pension.

''I am the happiest I have been for a long, long time. Now I feel I'm in a great position to warn what can happen and how to avoid it and, most importantly, how to come back if you've had any of this happen to you.''

King told the The Sun Herald, from her home in country Victoria, that she was surprised when New Idea approached her.

''I thought nobody cares about silly old me, it's come at a wonderful time in my life - I should be in a wheelchair, dribbling, but I'm not.''

King was one of the first magazine editors to pay for stories. ''Kerry Packer opened up his chequebook for me and it got everyone very snakey at the time, now it's commonplace,'' says King, who was the first woman to sit on Packer's Publishing and Broadcasting Board.

''I used to pay for stories, but I didn't hack into phones or anything. ''The worst thing I did was pay for a story. People used to try and sell me a story about an ingrown toe nail.''

She can sympathise, King says, with News Corporation's Rupert Murdoch during the present News of The World phone-hacking scandal.

''I find it hideous what's gone on. But I feel so sorry for Rupert Murdoch - he's just a pathetic old man now. But he has done some wonderful things and to see this is heartbreaking.''

But she said any investigation into our media practices would be a waste of time.

''The thought of spending millions to check into the Australian press is a load of garbage. Let's worry about important things like health and education. The press in Australia is pretty good - build a bridge and get over it.''

King hopes people will send letters because she feels she has a wealth of advice to give.

''I think women can relate to me … I've been through death, divorce, losing all your money, moving house, moving states, becoming very rich, becoming very poor … I like people and I work with suicide prevention,'' she said.

Copyright © 2011 Fairfax Media

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