Under the Radar with Louise Banham
With one week to go before the PPA Awards, we hear from Editor of the Year (Business Media) nominee Louise Banham – the Editor-in-Chief of Newtrade by day, theatre aficionado by night.
Ellie Austin scored a job at Immediate Media as a Features Writer for Radio Times after graduating from the Magazine Journalism MA course at City University. Here she talks about working in the fast-paced world of a major weekly magazine and the power of a good coffee.
What made you want to work in the magazine industry?
As a child, my first career choice was to be a musical theatre actress because I loved acting, dancing and singing, and my second choice was a journalist because I loved writing and reading. I realised quickly how hard it is to get into theatre (and that you have to be absolutely amazing at it, which I’m not!), so I concentrated on writing instead. Now I indulge in my love of words during the day and get my fix of theatre by watching a lot of it and performing on weekends and evenings.
Can you chart your journey from when you started out to your current position?
I started as an Editorial Assistant before becoming a reporter for independent convenience retail trade title RN. After four years, I moved over to its sister title Retail Express as Associate Editor, Deputy Editor and then Editor. At the start of this year, I became Editor-in-Chief at Newtrade. I’m responsible for the company’s print and digital content for RN, Retail Express, Better Wholesaling, betterRetailing.com and betterwholesaling.com.
Do you have a go-to work outfit?
I alternate between black jeans and a top/shirt and dresses.
What do you turn to when you’re on deadline – tea/coffee/snacks?
Since we write about convenience retail and product launches, there’s always a steady flow of treats in the office, which is great, but really dangerous for waistlines.
What’s the most unusual situation you’ve found yourself in because of your job?
Possibly whizzing around Silverstone on the back of a motorbike. It’s not something you’d immediately link to writing about convenience retailers.
What would people be surprised to know about your job?
Despite the abundance of free food, I don’t just eat crisps and chocolate all day.
Walk me through your typical day.
When I was the Editor of Retail Express, it was much more structured, with deadlines for content and projects following a similar pattern across a fortnightly press cycle, but now each day and week changes depending on what I’m working on for each title. I spend much more of my time in meetings, but my favourite kind of day is one where I can get my head down and plough through work. It’s really satisfying to leave the office after a day like that.
If you didn’t have to sleep, how would you use the remaining hours in the day?
Sleeping is one of my favourite things to do, so I’d do it anyway.
What is the last photo you took on your phone (at time of interview)? Why?
I’ve just been to Iceland, so it’s of the Blue Lagoon, which we stopped off at on the way to the airport.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Watching programmes about modelling. I’ve watched so many that I’m convinced if I was taller, thinner and younger I’d be the next Gigi Hadid.
Whose phone number do you wish you had?
Tim Minchin. He’d be a pretty entertaining contact.
What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Don’t go into journalism, because it’s unstable and poorly paid.” That was a careers adviser when I was 14.
What/where is your happy place?
Indoors – a theatre. Outdoors – anywhere where the sun is shining.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
That I perform in and choreograph musicals and concerts in my spare time. Though I don’t keep the fact that I do it secret and I’ve already given it away in the first question of this interview...
What would be in your Room 101?
The new Elizabeth line trains.
Introvert or extrovert?
A little of both – depends on the situation.
Optimist or pessimist?
Film or television? What are you binge-watching at the moment?
Television and The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m a little late to the party as I’m only nearing the end of season one, but that makes it easier to binge-watch.
Sweet or savoury?
Morning person or night owl?
Night owl – I’m a repetitive alarm snoozer.
Tea or coffee?
Emojis – cool or cringey? Which emoji do you use the most?
I’m not sure they’re cool or cringey, but I do use them. A big, cheesy grin is probably my most used.