Jo Checkley values the community that Prima has built, and says that she couldn't imagine working anywhere else. (Image Credit: Jo Checkley)

Editor-in-chief of Prima Jo Checkley graduated with a degree in European history from the University of Warwick and began her career as a trainee reporter for local newspapers.

This role involved extensive door-stepping and covering court cases, demanding hard work, especially with a six-day week. Through persistence and skill, Jo rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the editor of weekly magazines That’s life! and Love it! before taking on her current role.

‘I always wanted to be an editor’

“I always wanted to be an editor,” Jo says. “Transitioning from editing weekly magazines to a monthly one seemed like a natural progression.”

She says that she finds Prima to be a fabulous magazine, feeling she has reached where she wants to be.

Jo takes immense joy in her role, appreciating the fun and creativity it involves. “I love the environment that I work in. It’s lots of fun. I work with brilliant people,” she says.

Planning the different parts of the magazine is one of her favourite roles as editor-in-chief. “I love always thinking about how to bring something new to the reader,” she says.

She also enjoys connecting with what’s going on in the world, what people are talking about, and the feedback from readers to come up with fresh ideas.

‘Craft is still at the core. It’s like the heart of the magazine’

While Prima has adapted slightly over time, it has held on to its core principles of community and craft. “Craft is still at the core of Prima. It’s like the heart of the magazine.”

She notes that today, there is a heightened focus on positivity and support, covering difficult issues such as grief, alcoholism, and gambling, and showing how to navigate these challenges.

When it comes to the magazine being printed, Jo says that: “I’m always secretly thinking, have I done the cover right? Or, how many are left in the newsstand?

“You’ve just got to reach a limit and say no, that’s good,” she admits. “What you decide on is ultimately the best.”

‘I want to hear from people and i don’t mind if that’s a negative’

Criticism or negative feedback from readers is something that Jo welcomes by putting her email address in the magazine.

“That’s a key thing that I do, answering readers’ emails or phone calls,” she says adding, “I want to hear from people, and I don’t mind if that’s a negative. If there’s a complaint, I do note it.

“There was one lady who said that our wordsearch puzzles were too hard. I think she made a really good point, so I told the person who makes them, and we changed them slightly. Now we have great communication. She writes to me every month to tell me what she thinks of the puzzles and she’s enjoying them now.”

Jo believes that taking on board constructive criticism helps maintain a loyal readership. “It feels like a community and that’s a real positive for Prima,” she says.

She champions this sense of community and strives to make Prima the best it can be for its readers, hoping it serves as a way for them to connect and be inspired by others.

“While I have the privilege of sitting in this chair, I’m just trying to do all I can to make Prima the best it can be for them because it’s their magazine,” she says.

For those aspiring to have a similar position, Jo recommends starting with the basics. “Get some work experience at a local paper. You might not want to go into newspapers, but it’s still a great grounding,” she says.

“It’s so good for you to get out of the classroom and see everything in practice.”

Looking to the future, Jo believes Prima will remain true to its values while expanding its offerings. “It’s about affordability, it’s about community, and it’s about craft, and getting the best in life.”