MEDIA HEADLINER: The woman who puts spice in to teen mags launches Sneak - Sneak's editor admits she likes pop more at 31 than when a teen

The launch party sums up the attitude of Sneak, the teenage spawn of the celebrity magazine Heat, rather well. Teenage favourites partied alongside the serious garage ensemble So Solid Crew, who later graced Emap's evening with an impromptu performance.

Sneak, launched this week as the only teenage weekly, aims to give celebrity lifestyles the Heat treatment (the latest pictures of Gareth out of Pop Idol or David Beckham) combined with a little bit of irreverence (encapsulated in its title) and offbeat coverage of UK garage or nu-metal. Sneak's launch editor, Jennifer Cawthron, most recently the editor of Attic Futura's Sugar, certainly has the pedigree to make a go of the title.

Some might raise eyebrows that Emap is attempting to increase its stake in the teenage market when circulation across the sector as a whole is down 14.7 per cent (21.3 per cent among music titles such as Top of the Pops and Smash Hits) and when BBC Worldwide was forced to close Star after sales failed to impress.

However, Emap is putting a lot of faith in Sneak (a £3 million ad campaign through Mother typifying this) in the hope that it will have another Heat on its hands.

So what will the readership of Sneak (14- to 15-year-old girls) get for their 90p each Tuesday? Well, alongside news and features, humour will play a key part in the make-up of the magazine. Regular slots such as "Deep fried celebrities

(pictures of sunburnt,Tango-coloured idols) hint that the magazine will take the piss as much as the PR line.

Cawthron says: "It's cheeky, a bit naughty. The experience of reading it is intended to be a bit like having a fag behind the bike sheds."

It's easy to imagine Cawthron herself sneaking out for a fag with the other girls at school. She is a massive enthusiast and thoroughly charming (despite the launch party hangover), but has a glint in her eye that suggests the pages of Sneak will provide a few uncomfortable moments for celebrities.

Cawthron developed a passion for teenage and pop magazines as a teenager in Wakefield when she wiled away boring maths lessons reading Just Seventeen. She left school at 16 and landed what sounds like Homer Simpson's dream job of working in a pork pie factory. Unaccountably, something about the job proved a turn-off and Cawthorn decided to pursue a career in journalism via A- levels, a degree and journalism training.

After such a dogged pursuit of her ambitions, it seems appropriate that Cawthron should land her first job at Just Seventeen. She spent five years at BBC Worldwide on Top of the Pops and Live & Kicking.

During her time at Top of the Pops she was the person who first gave the names "Ginger", "Sporty", "Posh", "Baby

and "Scary

to the Spice Girls.

Despite such impressive pop credentials, Cawthron admits that she didn't think the Spice Girls would prove a success ("they were too in your face").

She then landed the editorship of Sugar, which had already established itself as a market leader in the teenage magazine world.

Cawthron says: "It was great to be the editor of the biggest selling teenage magazine. Although I took things more in the direction of pop celebrity, it was still a bit of a caretaker role. It was such a winning formula, so to come to Emap and launch Sneak was the most exciting thing I could be offered."

But at 31 isn't Cawthron a little old to be bothering with this pop caper?

"When I was younger I was a bit of an indie rocker, but as I've grown older I've got more into pop. I like Blue and S Club 7, but also garage and R&B. The new Sugababes single is great."

Despite such fondness for a pop melody, Cawthron is glad to have some younger recruits to be out interviewing the pop stars while she focuses on getting the magazine right. But isn't it just a weekly version of Smash Hits?

"It's the same cast of characters, but Smash Hits is more luxurious, more in-depth. People who've watched Pop Idol and Big Brother have seen ordinary people doing what they've always wanted to do and becoming famous."

This reality TV trend has driven a desire among teenagers for gossip coupled with a cynical view of airbrushed Hollywood celebrities. Sneak, which has the boy band Blue on the cover this week, is launched at the right time to capitalise on the Pop Stars and Pop Idol phenomenon and will be more down to earth in both its copy and use of photography.

Cawthron argues that its focus on news and a move away from Star's flirtation with US celebrities will bring results. She seems to be on to something.

A text message poll of readers for the first issue achieved 9,000 impassioned responses on the issue of whether Gareth should have surgery to close the gap between his front teeth. There might just be gold behind the bike sheds after all.

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