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How Schapelle Corby the cover girl was born

ABC News logo ABC News 25/05/2017

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Editor-in-chief of Woman's Day, Fiona Connolly, saw gossip mag gold in Schapelle Corby. But not everyone agreed with her.

When she suggested putting Corby on the cover her colleagues told her it was bad idea.

"The reaction wasn't what I was expecting from my publisher, and the CEO at the time was really nervous about it," she said.

"The feeling was, 'She's a drug mule. We do Nicole Kidman, Katie Holmes, we do beautiful people on the cover of Woman's Day.'"

Connolly became the first glossy magazine editor to put Corby on the cover.

"From that day on we had a new cover star. Schapelle the cover girl was born and it sold its socks off."

Schapelle Corby on the cover of Woman's Day in 2009. © Supplied Schapelle Corby on the cover of Woman's Day in 2009. Connolly believes Corby's story resonated with Australians, and especially Australian women, largely because of the way she looked.

"She's this innocent, piercing blue-eyed girl next door. She looked like she'd come from a healthy-living environment, the beautician, enjoying life at that pivotal point in her life where her world was just beginning.

"It was like you were reading about somebody you knew very well. She was just like your daughter, your cousin, the girl you went to school with."

One big problem Connolly and other magazine editors had was that decent pictures of Corby were scarce.

"Cover girls are typically beautiful. They're studio images, they're well made-up, they've got hair and make-up, wind machines. It was really difficult to get images of Schapelle that were going to be beautiful, that our readers would walk past in Woolworths or a petrol station and think, 'Ooh, gorgeous.'

"We've got a prisoner here. Often the photos were taken by prisoners behind bars, or by paparazzi from outside jail. Images became very valuable at that point."

Meanwhile Corby's family members courted their own media spotlight.

"We've got Mercedes doing a Ralph bikini shoot. That really started to show where we were heading here, that Schapelle was becoming more and more withdrawn as her family became more and more extroverted and it became a feeding frenzy," Connolly said.

"We started having huge amounts of money being bandied around and I think that's when the tide really started to turn."

Fiona Connolly was the first editor of a glossy women's magazine to put Schapelle Corby on the cover. © ABC News Fiona Connolly was the first editor of a glossy women's magazine to put Schapelle Corby on the cover. One last big Schapelle story remains

Connolly does not think there is much public appetite for Corby left.

"I don't think there's much more value left in this for the Corby family, friends and hangers on, even for the TV networks," she said.

"Really this is a story for the paps now, this is a money-making exercise for them. Her first steps on a sandy beach or her first beer at the club, her first day in a job. Now we'll see the paparazzi taking the big coin.

"We're going to see her pursued by the media in a really intense way. It's going to be a life sentence for her to back on home soil and that's the real tragedy of this.

"She's describing this as being just as much of a living hell as being back in that prison."

Connolly said there is really only one big Corby magazine story left.

"The ultimate Schapelle headline is, 'I'm getting married and I'm having a baby'. We want love and happiness and after all that misery, what could be more joyful and miraculous than a baby?

"A wedding and a baby would be the golden chalice, that would fly off the shelves."

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