Meet Myrna Blyth
BettyConfidential.com’s Woman of the Week
By: Kara Posner
For more than 20 years, Myrna Blyth was the editor-in-chief of Ladies’ Home Journal. She was only the third editor-in-chief in the history of this woman’s magazine. Of this she says, “I don’t think that currently there could be a male editor of a women’s magazine – -and, in some way, that is as much a problem as it once was when there were no female editors of women’s magazine.”
Myrna also founded, acted as editor-in-chief, and was publishing director of More Magazine, the only magazine written for women over forty. She is a columnist for National Review and a bestselling author. Among her many accolades, Myrna was named Advertising Age magazine’s “Publishing Executive of the Year” in 2001. The New York City Commission on the Status of Women recognized Myrna as a “Women of Achievement” in 2000. She represented the United States as an official delegate at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women. Myrna is currently the Chairman of the President’s Commission on White House Fellows. She is also on the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women with the Department of Justice.
Myrna Blyth is a wonderful role model for any woman. She balances a home life, a marriage and two sons while still acting as an advocate for women on a global and national stage. Her actions as a leader, as an activist and a visionary inspire us. Today she chairs takegyourkids2vote.org, a group dedicated to encouraging parents to bring their children with them when they vote in Election 2008. That she can balance this with a rich social life is truly admirable. It is a pleasure to have Myrna serve as an inspirational woman on the advisory board of BettyConfidential.com.
Being involved in women’s magazines over the decades, what have you seen change in women’s interests, preoccupations and goals? How have they remained constant through the years?
Women’s magazines have changed the way women have changed. Nowadays most women work, often marry later, have far more opportunities. Yet if you survey women they still say that the happiest day of their lives usually is the day they get married or have a child. So the opportunities for achievement in the world have dramatically increased for women in every way and that is terrific. Yet what is most important to most women remains personal happiness, having a good marriage and being a mother.
But what has probably changed the most is not women themselves but media. Media has dumbed down and women’s magazines today tend to be shallower than they were when women were less educated and had less opportunities. Today they are more celebrity oriented, more about buying things–rather than learning things– more visual and tend to act as if women’s lives are so tough, when, in truth, women’s lives today are better than they have ever been before.
If you could see women better informed in three areas, what would they be?
I don’t think you can generalize about how women should be better informed. I just wish media didn’t constantly try to scare women about health issues or focus so much on celebs, both building them up, then tearing them down. But there is so much information out there–if women want to be well informed they can be, If they don’t waste their information time on celeb weeklies or victim-of-the-week stories.
How do you feel about the explosion of content on the Internet? Is it hard to watch traditional print publishing have to make a big shift in how it does its business?
I think the web is great. Print publishing is having a hard time because, even though everyone talks about the importance of brands, magazine brands on the web aren’t really stronger than brands created just for the web. Though some magazine websites are doing okay none have been as important as the megabrands like Google, eBay or Facebook, that were just built on the internet.
You are known for being a great mentor to women entering the media, can you tell us about your most rewarding experience as a mentor?
I am delighted that so many women who worked for me both on the editorial and business side have gone on to be editors-in-chief and publishers. My great satisfaction is they have done so well. My other satisfaction is the success of More Magazine. No it isn’t a woman but a magazine for women over 40 of which I was the mentor and creator. Nobody else has a magazine for this demographic succeed until I started More. It is doing great now and I am really pleased about that.
When you were 10-years-old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actress, I think, and a writer. Used to practice my Academy Award acceptance speeches for Best Actress and Best Screenplay.
What type of kids did you hang out with in high school?
Had three or four really super smart girl friends.
What women from the past do you most identify with?
Hmmm just saw Elizabeth the Golden so I’ll say Elizabeth I.
What’s your workout?
A Nia class once in a while.
Cat or dog?
The cat died when my sons went to college.
What do you do when you want to completely tune-out?
I am trying to learn how to tune-out. Get back to me in six weeks.
What book is sitting on your shelf waiting to be read?
I just bought a batch: Eat, Pray, Love; Suite Francaise; On Chesil Beach; Clarence Thomas’s autobiography.
If you could have dinner with any two people who would they be?
Three is a bad number–what if they talked to each other and not me.
What is the one thing you do or do not want the next generation of girls
I want them to make the most of their opportunities and still realize personal happiness is what is most important.
If there were one thing you could change in your life, what would it be?