BOLING, (ELIZABETH) DULCIE (1936– )
Magazine editor and media executive, Dulcie Boling (née Leatham), who was born in Kyabram, Victoria, began her journalistic career as a cadet on the Melbourne Herald. In 1977, only a few years after joining New Idea, she was appointed editor-in-chief and began transforming the moribund 75-year-old women’s magazine into the biggest selling weekly, per capita, in the world. Adding gossip and romance to the staples of recipes and knitting, she determined the direction of Australia’s women’s magazine market for the next three decades, according to Margaret Simons.
New Idea’s circulation increased from about 400,000 to over one million, making the magazine’s publisher Southdown Press one of the great cash flow companies of Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited. As chairman and CEO of Southdown Press from 1982 and executive chairman in 1992–93, Boling controlled many magazines, including TV Week, making the Logie Awards the defining annual event of Australian television.
Boling’s epic battle to win the women’s magazine circulation war against Nene King, her former employee and editor of the rival Woman’s Day, was portrayed in the mini-series Paper Giants: Magazine Wars (2013). Chequebook journalism played a major role in the efforts of both to gain scoops. Boling’s most spectacular success was her world scoop in January 1993 when New Idea published the transcript of an illegally taped phone conversation between Prince Charles and his mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, one of the most sensational and damaging British royal stories of the 20th century.
Dulcie Boling was a trailblazer among women journalists in gaining powerful media directorships. As well as her board responsibilities at Southdown Press, in 1987 she was appointed a director of News Limited. When Murdoch siphoned off his Australian magazines into a new company, Pacific Magazines and Printing, in 1991, Boling was made a founding director. In 1993, Murdoch appointed her to a seat representing News Limited on the Seven Network board. After Kerry Stokes became a major shareholder in the Seven Network in the late 1990s, Boling stayed on as an independent director. Often the only female on a board, Boling claimed she was never a ‘token woman’.
At the 2012 Melbourne Press Club’s Quills awards ceremony, Boling was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for sustained excellence as editor and industry leader by actress Rachel Griffiths, who portrayed her in Paper Giants. Her portrayal included Boling’s well-remembered and defining ‘ice maiden stare’.
REFs: Speeches by Dulcie Boling, Rachel Griffiths and Michael Rowland, Melbourne Press Club, 15 March 2013; M. Simons, Kerry Stokes (2013).