‘Marie Claire’ Editor Joanna Coles Pairs Models and Humanitarians, in Print and at Lunch

Chick flick veterans grace the cover of this month’s Marie Claire, but last Wednesday more serious topics were on the lunch table. Editor Joanna Coles hosted an informal luncheon on the top floor of Hearst Tower to discuss how the press covers women in international crises. The guest of honor was United Nations undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs Valerie Amos, whom she’d been trying to meet for “for years.”  Ms. Coles was joined by ProPublica editor Paul Steiger, Overseas Press Club president David Andelman, and Women for Women International president Zainab Salbi.

Ms. Amos strode in a half an hour late but made up for the lost time by speaking for almost an hour about the challenges specific to bringing humanitarian relief to Haiti, Libya, and Sudan, barely pausing to nibble at her Good Housekeeping-recipe popover. 

Hearst editorial director Ellen Levine asked about the challenges of negotiating with male leaders whose customs dictate they shouldn’t shake her hand. 

“They don’t expect you to be tough,” said Ms. Amos. 

Longtime magazine fixture Christy Turlington was there to be, as Marie Claire‘s slogan goes, “more than just a pretty face.” Ms. Turlington is taking a break from getting her master’s in public health degree at Columbia in order to promote her first documentary, No Woman No Cry, about maternal health. It debuted on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network last month. 

That Marie Claire aims to incorporate more international news and longform journalism than their lady mag competitors speaks to Ms. Coles’s background.  She was a career reporter before becoming the New York bureau chief of the Guardian and the Times of London. Plus, she’s married to foreign correspondent Peter Godwin. Copies of his latest book, The Fear, were available for guests. 

After Ms. Amos cited a particularly grim figure about the frequency of lethal natural disasters increasing with global climate change, Ms. Coles cleared the air. 

“I don’t know how you don’t drink more alcohol,” she joked.

Both she and Ms. Amos abstained from the white wine served. 

kstoeffel@observer.com :: @kstoeffel 

‘Marie Claire’ Editor Joanna Coles Pairs Models and Humanitarians, in Print and at Lunch