American Pie 14.06.01


It’s not just women’s fashion mags in the US in turmoil. Male editors here are playing musical chairs too. Among them, Stephen Smith, editor of US News & World Report. The smallest of the US news weeklies, it has suffered badly from the economic decline and advertising fall-off, and its owner, real-estate tycoon Mort Zuckerman, is once again switching editors. Known to drop editors as fast as girlfriends, he has promoted executive editor Brian Duffy to the top job. It’s the eighth change of editor since Zuckerman bought US News in 1984. Smith lasted longer than most – a few weeks short of three years. Now other departures are expected – as well as the closing of some bureaux, including Moscow and Beijing. The London and Tokyo bureaux have already closed. Meanwhile, at Zuckerman’s New York Daily News there is also a big change. Frank Lalli, former editor of George magazine, which folded following the death of founder JFK Jnr, has resigned after less than three months as editor of the Sunday edition. Lalli explained that he found working for a magazine much more rewarding than newspapers. Or was it, as some say, because he was passed over for editor at US News, for which he was tipped?

What’s happening to the women ousted from top jobs in the fashion mag world? Bonnie Fuller, former editor of Glamour, took her time leaving her office. It was 10 days after the announcement that she finally bagged her belongings and said goodbye. She showed little emotion, declining to talk about her plans. At Harper’s Bazaar, outgoing Katherine Betts couldn’t hide her tears. Her firing, she admitted, was a surprise. Her plans? She has a young son and she wants, she says, to spend some time at home. A book? "No books, no memoirs. I’m too young for that!" she insisted. Her successor, Glenda Bailey, is taking a whole slew of staff with her from Marie Claire, including her No.2, Jenny Barnett, plus her features and fashion editors. At CondŽ Nast, the new editor of Glamour, Cindi Leive, has moved her files, while her vacant desk at Self is being taken by Lucy Danziger, former editor of Women’s Sports and Fitness, which folded last year after losing an estimated $45m (about £32m). The only person staying aloof from the turmoil seems to be Anna Wintour, editor of CondŽ Nast’s fashion flagship Vogue, who made no comment on the upheavals.


Signs of the bad times (continued): Time Inc is closing its editorial research library, almost two floors of the Time-Life building, stuffed with millions of clippings and thousands of reference books – all of which are to be moved to a warehouse, freeing space for other (perhaps rentable) uses. At the same time half of the more than 30 librarians have been asked to resign or retire. Although many reporters and writers at Time and sister magazines now do their research on computers, closing the library, which dates back to the days of Henry Luce, has saddened many older staff, who regarded it as an institution. Until recently it stayed open until midnight on magazine closing days, offering coffee and cake to late workers. As another economy, Time Inc is ceasing its house magazine.


Update on the lay-offs at magazines here: hardest hit is Primedia, which has laid off 160 of its staff, Scholastic has laid off 100, while Ziff Davis has ‘pink-slipped’ 50. Jan Wenner’s company has let go between 20 and 30, Gruner+Jahr USA has dropped 37, and Hachette-Filipacchi 39. A total of 1,360 staffers since the beginning of the year.


By Jeffrey Blyth

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