Telum Talks To: Sebastian van der Zwan, Editor at Woman's Day New Zealand and The Australian Women's Weekly: New Zealand Edition

Telum Talks To: Sebastian van der Zwan, Editor at Woman's Day New Zealand and The Australian Women's Weekly: New Zealand Edition

By Cindy Paskalina Kweesar

How did you get your start in journalism?
The week after I graduated with a Bachelor of Communication Studies from AUT, I started as a Sub-Editor at New Zealand Woman’s Weekly. As well as knowing my way around commas and dashes, I proved my creativity with headlines and stuck my hand up to write whatever needed writing.

That led to a writer’s job in the NZWW newsroom, and I went on to become an Assistant Editor. Since then, I’ve stuck around in magazines on both sides of the Tasman - I was an International Editor at Woman’s Day in Australia, Deputy Editor at Woman’s Day in New Zealand, and Editor at NW in Australia before landing my current gig.

What does a day in your role look like?
It’s never the same day twice, which is part of the fun / chaos. In between editing, writing, proofing, and commissioning, there are a LOT of emails and phone calls. Keeping my fingers on the pulse of both the local and international entertainment industries also means lots of meetings and events.

Can you share some of your favourite articles published so far this year?
For Woman’s Day, I can’t go past Breakfast Host Matty McLean’s incredible wedding story. It was a beautiful cover and really resonated with readers too - one of our bestselling issues of the year. I also loved the chance to introduce Hayley Holt’s gorgeous son, Raven, and Jay-Jay Feeney’s boyfriend, Hoani. Our coverage of King Charles III’s coronation also resulted in some bumper sales.

For The Australian Women’s Weekly, I’m in love with one of our new issues, which features Black Ferns icon Ruby Tui. Our 2023 covers with Dame Jacinda Ardern and Robyn Malcolm are also high points and proved popular with our readers.

I’m also proud of our latest readership results. Figures for both mags went up this year - we’re on 371,000 for Woman’s Day and 455,000 for AWW. While there are a lot of media companies struggling at the moment, Are Media isn’t one of them.

Which industries or sectors do you most enjoy working with?
I particularly love the entertainment industry - the people who make our local TV, movies, music, and theatre are so passionate about what they do, and that passion is infectious. We’re really proud to feature so many local artists and celebrities.

Are there any upcoming trends or topics you’re looking forward to covering?
Since Aotearoa hosted both the Rugby World Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup, it’s so great to see our female athletes firmly in the spotlight after so long in the shadows of their male counterparts. Despite my lack of sporting prowess, I’ve become really passionate about telling the stories of our local sportswomen. We’ve had a lot of inspiring stories with our world champion, Black Ferns, and there are heaps more to come!

What advice would you give young journalists hoping to enter entertainment journalism?
Don’t go into entertainment or lifestyle journalism if you’re only in it for the glamour. There’s the odd moment of glitz, but it’s a lot of hard work along the way. Be prepared to put in the hard yards and hunt down your own stories rather than expecting them to be handed to you on a plate. Attend gigs, shows, events, exhibitions, premieres, etc., and make contacts.

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Sebastian van der Zwan


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