BUTTROSE, ITA (1942– )
The daughter of journalist and editor Charles Buttrose (1909–99), Ita Buttrose has held key positions in two of the three main media empires in Australia: Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited and the Packers’ Australian Consolidated Press (ACP). A well-known media figure, Buttrose— as a career woman and working mother—was a role model to many Australian women of the 1970s; however, there is some tension between this image and other representations of women in the two quite different ACP women’s magazines she founded and/or edited in the 1970s.
The first was Cleo, aimed at 20- to 40-year-old women. Buttrose created the magazine with Kerry Packer in 1972, and was the founding editor. The first mainstream women’s magazine in Australia to include articles dealing explicitly with women’s sexuality, as well as controversial nude male centrefolds, it was the subject of a television mini-series, Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo (2011).
Buttrose is equally famous as editor in the mid-1970s of the Australian Women’s Weekly, launched by ACP in 1933 and regarded as ACP’s flagship magazine. Buttrose had first worked at the Weekly briefly after leaving school, aged 15, in 1957, before transferring to its stablemate, the Daily Telegraph, as a cadet journalist. After the creation of Cleo, Buttrose went on to become editor-in-chief of both the Weekly and Cleo, and fronted television campaigns for them. She served on the board of ACP, and in 1978 she was appointed the publisher of ACP’s Women’s Division.
From 1981 until 1984, Buttrose was editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph (by then sold to News Limited)—a first for an Australian woman in a metropolitan newspaper—and also served on the company’s board. Since then, she has held numerous journalistic, consultancy and business roles, including spells on 2KY and 2UE Sydney (1986–87); founding her own publishing company and an eponymous women’s magazine, Ita (1989–94); and serving as editor-at-large of OK! magazine (2004–11). She has had a large number of philanthropic roles, most notably with the AIDS Trust Australia and Alzheimer’s Australia.
Buttrose was awarded an OBE in 1979 and an AO in 1988, and named 2013 Australian of the Year. She has written or co-written 10 books, including autobiographies (1985 and 1998), works on health and fitness, and etiquette guides, and is a regular on the speakers’ circuit.