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2021 Media Moves: Chidozie Obasi Appointed Deputy Editor of ODDA and More

Women's Wear Daily (WWD) logoWomen's Wear Daily (WWD) 12/17/2021 Kathryn Hopkins
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The revolving door of the media industry never stops. Here, WWD rounds up some notable moves of late.

Friday, December 17

ODDA’s new deputy editor

Chidozie Obasi has been appointed deputy editor of ODDA magazine, the bi-annual fashion and culture publication.

In his new role, he’ll be a driving force behind the editorial component of ODDA across all of its platforms, creating a cohesive message for the print editions, digital and social channels and working closely with editor in chief David Martin and fashion director Georgia Tal.

He joins from Vogue Italia where he was a reporter for the culture section and will continue to write for the publication as a columnist and contributing editor. He’s also written for the likes of The Guardian, i-D, Highsnobiety, Grazia, Dazed and British GQ.

“I’m thrilled to be joining ODDA’s editorial team, a boundary-pushing reality that since 2012 sits as a leading force in the independent publishing sector,” Obasi said. “The eclectic range of outputs, the quality of journalism and the breadth of storytelling is very much in line with my journalism practice and through this appointment, my goal is to push for inclusion – whilst championing emerging voices – to the best of my capacity.”

 

Tuesday, December 14

From The Hollywood Reporter to the newsletter world

Janice Min, the former co-president of the then Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Entertainment Group, is joining the newsletter world.

She will become co-owner and CEO of newly-formed Ankler Media, partnering with Richard Rushfield of The Ankler, a popular newsletter on Substack. In her new role, she’s hoping to expand The Ankler with new entertainment-focused newsletters, podcasts and live events. Rushfield will serve as editorial director of the new entity, while remaining The Ankler’s chief columnist. Min will also become editor in chief of all the Ankler newsletters. Tatiana Siegel, executive film editor at The Hollywood Reporter, will join Min and Rushfield as their first hire.

“I was an Ankler addict first–and then became dazzled by its list of subscribers, a real who’s who of power in entertainment,” said Min. “The Ankler is authentic, smart, and unafraid to say what is actually on people’s minds. Richard has nailed that sweet spot between insight and levity. We intend to use that DNA to deliver information that meets the needs of a new entertainment economy whose reach extends far beyond traditional Hollywood.”

Rushfield added: “This is about making entertainment entertaining through the stories, professions, and personalities at the real center of the industry. Janice is one of the only people on Earth with the leadership qualities, fearlessness, and media experience needed to make this succeed. And we are both fanatical about making the story of entertainment entertaining.”

The revamped Ankler, complete with a podcast and additional newsletters, will launch in January.

Since its launch in 2017, San Francisco-based Substack, which is backed by Andreessen Horowitz and Y Combinator, has added numerous new writers, including The Verge’s Casey Newton, Vulture’s Hunter Harris, BuzzFeed’s Anne Helen Petersen and Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi. Rushfield worked for BuzzFeed, The Los Angeles Times and Gawker before launching his newsletter.

The main attraction is that the platform, which makes money through subscriptions as opposed to ads, allows reporters to generate income directly from their own audiences at a time when advertising is dwindling even further amid the pandemic. The newsletters are owned by the writers and in most cases Substack takes 10 percent of earnings, although some writers have been paid up-front fees.

 

Thursday, November 11

More changes at Condé Nast

Days after news broke of Condé Nast’s chief business officer for style Susan Plagemann’s exit from the company in September, it was announced that Elizabeth Lunny would be taking over as Vogue’s commercial lead, partially filling Plagemann’s role.

Now, it appears that execs have decided she can take on the entire role, appointing her as chief business officer of the company’s style division, where she will oversee fashion and luxury sales, and lead business strategy for Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair.

Lunny recently rejoined Condé Nast, after executive positions at Bustle Media Group and The New York Times. Earlier in her career, Lunny was the associate publisher of Women’s Health and the vice president of integrated sales and marketing for Three Lions Entertainment. Before that, she spent 13 years at Condé Nast.

“Elizabeth brings with her a unique combination of superpowers: In addition to her digital acumen, she has an extensive knowledge of the fashion and luxury categories,” said Pam Drucker Mann, global chief revenue officer at Condé Nast. “All of this, combined with her phenomenal leadership skills will prove invaluable to the style division’s continued success.”

Plagemann let her team know in a memo that, after 11 years, she has decided to “pursue other interests.” It has been a great privilege to work with all of you. Know that I am so proud, as you must be, too, of all that has been accomplished,” Plagemann wrote in the note. “As I transition the business with Pam [Drucker Mann, chief revenue officer], know that I will always cheer you on and wish you and CN, continued success.”

In December 2020, The New York Times reported that Plagemann, who is white, was critical of Vanity Fair’s covers, with two people citing that she said the magazine should feature “more people who look like us.” A company spokesperson denied this to The Times. Since joining Vanity Fair, editor in chief Radhika Jones has been striving to make the magazine more diverse.

 

Monday, November 8

Changes at Glamour

As she prepares to host Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards at the Rainbow Room Monday evening, Samantha Barry just received some good news. Condé Nast’s chief content officer Anna Wintour announced that the Glamour editor in chief since 2018 has been appointed Americas editorial director of Glamour, while Deborah Joseph will be European editorial director. In addition to their new global roles, they will continue to oversee the local editions of their titles in the U.S. and U.K.

The announcement fits in with the company’s strategy of naming regional directors as it looks to streamline international editions and save costs. Last year, execs appointed global editorial directors of Architectural Digest, Condé Nast Traveler, GQ, Vogue and Wired.

“Both Sam and Deborah have demonstrated brilliant leadership as editors in chief in their respective markets, as well as a commitment to growing the Glamour community and reaching new audiences across platforms,” said Wintour in a company-wide memo seen by WWD. “Glamour has already proven itself as a successful global model across twelve markets, most recently with a shared cover star in October, followed by a global virtual event. Sam and Deborah will continue their close editorial partnership to set the brand’s content strategy, vision and tone across markets and on all platforms, while reinforcing local storytelling and reporting.”

According to data provided by Condé Nast, the digital only Glamour U.S. has seen a 24 percent year-over-year increase in traffic. Glamour U.K., meanwhile, has experienced a 22 percent year-over-year increase in traffic.

 

Wednesday, November 3

Former HuffPost editor to spearhead relaunch of Scary Mommy

Fresh from its acquisition of Some Spider Studios in August, BDG, the publisher of Gawker, Mic and Nylon, among others, has named Kate Auletta editor in chief of parenting publication, Scary Mommy.

Auletta joins Scary Mommy from HuffPost, where she most recently served as the senior editor for culture and parenting. In her new role, she’ll lead Scary Mommy’s editorial vision and content creation across all platforms, including a redesign.

“Kate’s considerable experience in publishing — in the parenting space and beyond — made her a natural fit to lead Scary Mommy,” said Emma Rosenblum, BDG’s chief content officer for lifestyle and parenting. “Scary Mommy’s audience is passionate about our content on every platform, engaging with our coverage of all aspects of motherhood, from the hilarious to the heartfelt. I can’t wait to see how Kate will bring her vision for the brand to life.”

Auletta added: ”I’m ecstatic to be joining the great team at Scary Mommy and BDG. As a parent, I’m an avid follower and fan of Scary Mommy for its brutal honesty and pithy humor; as an editor I’ve long been in awe of Scary Mommy’s breadth of coverage and extensive reach. I’m so excited to get to help shape what the future of the brand looks like across its platforms and storytelling avenues. I can’t wait to hit the ground running in November.”

Scary Mommy joined BDG through the acquisition of Some Spider Studios in August 2021, and sits within the company’s parenting portfolio, which includes Romper, Fatherly and The Dad. According to data provided by BDG, Scary Mommy reaches more than 6 million readers monthly.

 

Monday, October 11

Layoffs at Genius

Twenty-two staffers are being laid off at Brooklyn-based Genius Media, the lyrics-database company, following its acquisition by app and internet media holding company MediaLab for $80 million, according to a WARN notice filed with the New York State Labor Department. The reason given in the notice was “restructuring the way in which original content is produced.”

Genius, formerly known as Rap Genius, is a digital media company founded in 2009, allowing users to provide annotations and interpretation to song lyrics, news stories, sources, poetry and documents. News of the acquisition by Santa Monica-based MediaLab, which also owns messaging app Kik Interactive, music distribution platform Datpiff and anonymous social media platform Whisper, was made public in mid-September. At the time, the two companies said layoffs were happening, but did not disclose numbers.

“We are restructuring the way in which original content is produced at Genius and, as part of that, some very talented individuals on the content and production teams were let go. The scale of the community platform is what attracted us to Genius, and this is where we will be heavily investing going forward with a new focus on emerging artists,” MediaLab said in a statement at the time.

 

Thursday, October 7


Condé Nast Entertainment’s new podcast head

Condé Nast Entertainment is looking to beef up its podcast division with the appointment of Chris Bannon as head of global audio.

Most recently, Bannon served as chief content officer at podcast outlet Stitcher, where he launched Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, Office Ladies, The Dream and Heaven’s Gate among others. He was previously program director and vice president of content at WNYC.

“Chris’ leadership, impeccable creative instincts and optimistic approach to audio storytelling has entertained audiences for over two decades,” said Agnes Chu, President of CNE. “I look forward to his impact as we build out our best in class podcast slate to deliver on our iconic brands.”

CNE currently produces 40 podcasts across its global brands, including In Vogue, and Love is a Crime from Vanity Fair and Chu told WWD that the focus this year will be ramping up podcast production and looking at how they can bring in a talk show format. “It’s how can we leverage this talk show dynamic into a podcast slate that we can really build out. This upcoming year a lot of the focus is on creating more, but not necessarily content that is that heavy lift.”

 

Monday, October 4

them has a new leader

Condé Nast has tapped Sarah Burke as editor-in-chief of them, the online platform that caters to a young, LGBTQ audience.

Burke has spent the majority of the last few years at Vice and, since February, has overseen the production of the Vice World News documentary series Transnational, which highlights issues around transgender rights globally.

She’ll take the helm from Whembley Sewell, who led the brand since 2019. Sewell departed to join Netflix’s editorial and publishing team.

“Her background reporting on LGBTQ issues, race, gender and identity, coupled with her experience leading teams across platforms at Vice, made her a natural choice for this role,” said Anna Wintour, global editorial director of Vogue and chief content officer at Condé Nast of Burke. “I look forward to watching the brand continue to grow its community and reach new audiences under her leadership.”

Burke added: “LGBTQ people have always been at the forefront of cultural trends and social change. I couldn’t be more honored to lead them. in telling those incredibly important stories of activism and ingenuity, and to bring them onto new platforms.”

Condé Nast’s own data showed that unique views were up 43.3 percent in September compared to the same period last year.

 

Wednesday, September 22

From media to make-up

Beauty company Il Makiage has named Joe Libonati as its first chief communications officer, effective immediately.

While this may be a new name to beauty reporters, media journalists will be very familiar as he joins from Condé Nast where he was chief communications officer and executive vice president of global communications. Prior to Condé, Libonati held senior positions at Rubenstein Communications and Principal Communications Group and also spent seven years at NBCUniversal. 

His hire follows Il Makiage’s recent expansion of its leadership team and appointment of Goldman Sachs’ Lindsay Drucker Mann as the company’s first global chief financial officer. The company, which is backed by private equity firm L Catterton, also recently acquired the deep-tech AI-based computational imaging start-up Voyage81.

“As we continue on our path of rapid growth and preparation toward our next chapter as a company, the appointment of Joe as our first chief communications officer is another step for increasing our global impact,” said Oran Holtzman, cofounder and CEO of Il Makiage. 

Libonati added: “Il Makiage is doing what so many companies are only talking about — changing the future of beauty and wellness by leveraging its unparalleled tech capabilities and high-quality products to deliver a best-in-class consumer experience. I am looking forward to working with Oran and the team as the company enters its next phase of growth.”

 

Thursday, September 16

Susan Plagemann’s successor at Vogue

Vogue has already appointed a successor for Susan Plagemann, who announced her departure from Condé Nast last week.

Chief revenue officer Pam Drucker Mann told staffers Wednesday that Elizabeth Lunny, currently head of fashion & luxury, will be taking over as Vogue’s commercial lead, while continuing to be responsible for key clients and agencies in the fashion and luxury category.

Lunny only recently rejoined Condé after stints at The New York Times and Bustle Digital Group. She spent 13 years at Condé Nast in various roles earlier in her career. 

The appointment means that Plagemann’s role has been partially filled as her title was chief business officer of the style division with oversight of fashion and beauty business revenue at Vogue, GQ, Allure, Glamour and W until the latter was sold, as well as being Vogue’s commercial lead. There has been no word on if a new style division chief business officer will be appointed.

Plagemann let her team know in a memo Friday that after 11 years she has decided to “pursue other interests,” although there is much speculation that the departure was chief content officer Anna Wintour’s decision. A vogue rep. denied that this was the case.

It has been a great privilege to work with all of you. Know that I am so proud, as you must be, too, of all that has been accomplished,” Plagemann wrote in the note. “As I transition the business with Pam [Drucker Mann, chief revenue officer], know that I will always cheer you on and wish you and CN, continued success. Thank you for all of your hard work, perseverance, and being the incredible team that you are.”

In December 2020, The New York Times reported that Plagemann, who is white, was critical of Vanity Fair’s covers, with two people citing that she said the magazine should feature “more people who look like us.” A company spokesperson denied this to The Times. Since joining Vanity Fair, editor in chief Radhika Jones has been striving to make the magazine more diverse.

 

Monday, September 13

Snap’s New Hires

Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, is adding to its talent partnerships team as part of an ongoing commitment to support public figures and creators globally, making three new hires.

First up, Julie Bogaert has joined Snap recently as head of EMEA talent partnerships, a newly created role based in Paris overseeing talent relations and strategy across Europe as well as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Previously, Bogaert was a strategic partnerships manager at Facebook and Instagram, looking after partnerships with celebrities in the U.K. such as the the Beckhams, Edward Enninful and Zoella.

Next, Racquel Douglas has been appointed manager of sports talent partnerships. In this role, Douglas, who will be based in Los Angeles, will manage Snap’s partnerships with athletes and sports figures globally. Most recently, she led branded content productions for LeBron James’ Uninterrupted, working with Fortune 500 companies such as Walmart and HBO.

Finally, Emily McDonnell will be joining Snap as manager of EMEA talent partnerships, based in London. McDonnell previously worked with Bumble and Google on their influencer marketing activities.

Jim Shepherd, Snap’s head of talent partnerships, said, “We are thrilled to welcome Julie, Racquel and Emily to Snap’s talent partnerships team. Each brings with them a unique perspective and deep relationships across the talent ecosystem, which will prove to be an asset as we continue to work with public figures and creators to leverage Snapchat’s products, from stories to shows to spotlight and beyond, to grow their audience and build their business.”

 

Thursday, 2 September

Laurel Pantin’s new role

Laurel Pantin is joining Austin-based ByGeorge as senior vice president and fashion director at large. 

Until recently, she was style director at InStyle, overseeing all trend and shopping pages, as well as lifestyle and interiors. Before that she was fashion director at Coveteur and has also held positions at Lucky magazine, Teen Vogue and Glamour.

Pantin is the second member of InStyle’s fashion team to announce their departure from the publication this week. On Tuesday, InStyle fashion director Julia von Boehm said she was leaving her full-time role at the magazine to focus on her website and celebrity styling commitments, although she will continue to work with the Meredith-owned brand on a freelance basis.

In her new role at ByGeorge, Pantin will be working with the team on brand and product research, overall fashion direction, as well as advertising and marketing campaign creative direction.

The Austin native is now based is Los Angeles, but plans to travel to Austin many times a year. 

ByGeorge is a fashion and lifestyle store founded in Austin in 1979 by Katy and Matt Culmo. In 2015, it was sold to Larry McGuire, partner and cofounder of McGuire Moorman Lambert Hospitality, the group behind many of Austin’s restaurants including Jeffrey’s, Clarks and Swedish Hill. ByGeorge has two locations in Austin carrying an array of designer brands and recently opened an outlet in New Orleans, inside Hotel Saint Vincent.

In addition to Pantin, Molly Nutter, a Barneys New York alum, was brought on as president in 2019.

“As an Austin native, she has an innate understanding of ByGeorge’s history and clientele and we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her to the team,” a spokeswoman for MML said.

 

Tuesday, 31 August

Julia von Boehm’s departure

InStyle fashion director Julia von Boehm is leaving her full-time role at the magazine, although she will continue to work with the Meredith-owned brand on a freelance basis.

She’s leaving to focus on her lifestyle site JuliavonBoehm.com, which she launched in 2018, the same year she became InStyle’s fashion director. Prior to InStyle, she worked with at French Vogue under Carine Roitfeld, who is godmother to her children. She has also worked with brands such as Saint Laurent, Bulgari, Swarovski, Vera Wang, Tom Ford, David Yurman, Lancôme and Estée Lauder.

According to a representative for InStyle, it has no plans to hire a fashion director at this time. 

“It’s been an absolute joy to have Julia on the masthead the past few years, but now she is back in the wild. We haven’t let her go too far though, she is styling a cover for us next week,” said Laura Brown, editor in chief of InStyle.

Von Boehm added: “My time at InStyle has been an incredible journey with an irreplaceable experience and knowledge that I was able to acquire. Working with Laura has been a heart-filled and honest collaboration, and I am thankful for every moment of it. It is time for me now to move on and focus on my website, and my long-term celebrity clients.” 

 

Dirk Standen heads to Savannah

Dirk Standen has a new job. The former editor in chief of Condé Nast’s now-defunct Style.com has relocated from New York to Savannah to become professor of fashion marketing and management at The Savannah College of Art and Design.

“I moved down from New York about a month ago and I’ve been preparing for my classes and I start Sept. 13 so it’s a big change, but a new challenge that I’m really excited about,” he told WWD.

“It’s a bit of a cliché, but like everyone else in the pandemic I’ve been rethinking my priorities,” he continued. “I was developing a start-up idea with a colleague focused on identifying and mentoring new talent in the fashion industry and then this SCAD opportunity came along and I thought I can take some of that energy and put it into this.”

In addition to Style.com, Standen did a stint at W as digital creative director and later led Condé Nast’s creative agency, 23 Stories. He left Condé Nast in 2018.

“One of the things that I can hopefully bring to the classroom at SCAD is that I’ve been in the room with CEOs, CMOs, pitching projects. I’ve seen what sells and what doesn’t sell and hopefully I can share some insights from that with my students,” added Standen.

 

Friday, 27 August

Layoffs at Vice Media

After recently announcing a new video-focused strategy, Vice Media has laid off around 17 staffers.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the Vice union said: “We are once again devastated to learn that 17 of our colleagues have been laid off from Vice and Refinery29 in what has become a macabre annual ritual at this company.”

It added that it was dismayed that the company’s only acknowledgment of these layoffs came toward the bottom of a lengthy memo from its chief digital officer Cory Haik, which led with promotions news.

In the memo, Haik said: “As part of this continued global alignment we’ve unfortunately had to say goodbye to some of our friends and colleagues. We wish them well and thank them for their dedicated service over the years.”

 

Tuesday, 24 August

The Washington Post’s TikTok strategy

After hiring its first Instagram editor earlier this year, The Washington Post is beefing up it TikTok offering, advertising two new positions.

The Post will be adding an associate producer and a community editor whose roles will help expedite channel growth, focus strategy on topics that are resonating with the audience and expand content efforts.

The team, including Dave Jorgenson (a video producer and editor known as The Washington Post TikTok guy), currently produces ten TikToks each week on The Post’s channel covering headlines from politics to climate change. The Washington Post has 1 million followers on TikTok, 4.9 million on Instagram and just over 19 million on Twitter.

“When we launched our TikTok channel two years ago, we saw an opportunity to deliver the news in a unique way and reach new audiences. Since then, TikTok has proven to be one of our fastest-growing platforms,” said Micah Gelman, director of editorial video. “These new positions will augment the success we’ve seen, helping us further grow, innovate and continue connecting with more people who may not regularly consume traditional news.”

 

Wednesday, 18 August

The Daily Beast’s New Top Editor

The Daily Beast has promoted Tracy Connor from executive editor to editor-in-chief, taking over from Noah Shachtman, who is joining Rolling Stone.

In her new role, Connor will now oversee all editorial strategy and functions of The Beast’s newsroom, reporting to CEO Heather Dietrick.

“With her ferocious appetite for unearthing the biggest stories and an unwavering commitment to excellence, as executive editor Tracy led the Beast in hitting record traffic, with our reach, impact and influence growing like never before,” said Dietrick. “Tracy puts her heart into making everyone around her the best they can be, bringing a sense of fun, mischievousness and generosity to the newsroom that helps define our culture. I’m excited for what’s ahead.”

Connor joined The Daily Beast from NBC News as executive editor in 2018. While at NBC, she reported for the website before joining the investigative unit. She has also worked at New York Daily News, the New York Post and United Press International.

“The moment I walked into the newsroom three years ago, I knew the Beast was the place for me,” added Connor. “Each day since then I’ve watched in pride and awe as this team delivered scoop after scoop with grit, heart and an unswerving commitment to the truth. I’m humbled and honored at the opportunity to help define the next chapter of The Beast’s incredible legacy.”

As for Shachtman, he joins Rolling Stone as editor in chief next month and will report into Rolling Stone’s President and COO, Gus Wenner. He served as editor in chief of The Daily Beast since 2018.

 

Wednesday, 23 June

Jen Ortiz and Jessica Willis Join the Cut

As she makes her mark on The Cut as its new editor in chief, Lindsay Peoples Wagner has begun building out her team, adding two new hires: Jen Ortiz as deputy editor and Jessica Willis as style director. 

Ortiz joins from Cosmopolitan, where she has been deputy editor since 2018. Prior to Cosmopolitan, she was a senior editor at Marie Claire, where she edited the magazine’s culture section and wrote features and essays. Willis, meanwhile, is a stylist that has counted Apple, Jil Sander, Tiffany & Co. and Vogue among her clients and will continue working with some independent clients in her contract role at the Cut, according to a rep. at New York Magazine. 

“As we set the course for the Cut’s next chapter, I’m so excited to have two sharp minds joining our team. Ortiz brings strong editorial instincts from her time at Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, and I’ve long admired the stylish eye Willis has brought to her shoots with stars like Solange, Childish Gambino, Naomi Osaka, and more,” said Peoples Wagner.

 

Thursday, 17 June

Elaine Welteroth’s new project

After diving deeper into her television career as a cohost of CBS’s The Talk, which just got renewed for another season, former Teen Vogue editor in chief Elaine Welteroth isn’t leaving digital media behind altogether. She was just named consulting editor at large at Verizon Media’s In the Know and launched its inaugural digital cover featuring actress Mj Rodriguez and artist Chella Man in a conversation on why LGBTQ representation in storytelling is so essential. 

As consulting editor at large, Welteroth will continue to curate each monthly digital cover, interviewing its cover stars. Readers will also be able to shop the looks featured in the digital cover on In the Know’s web site.

“Storytelling is one of the most important vehicles for implementing positive societal change,” said Welteroth. “Amplifying marginalized voices and diverse perspectives has always been at the core of my career, no matter the job. It’s also been a key pillar of In the Know since the brand’s inception. I’m thrilled to join the In the Know team as consulting editor at large to continue sharing meaningful, culture-shifting stories. It is critical to me that we spotlight individuals who authentically reflect the diversity of voices and values that matter most to our audience.” 

 

Thursday, June 10

Popsugar’s new president

Lisa Sugar has stepped down from her role as president of Popsugar, making way for Angelica Marden.

Sugar founded the brand with her husband Brian Sugar in 2006 and it was acquired by Group Nine Media in 2019. It’s understood that she’ll remain a key member of the leadership team at Group Nine. 

Marden, meanwhile, is very familiar with the San Francisco-based brand, having spent 15 years there, most recently as its general manager. Prior to that, Marden was senior vice president of content operations.

“Angelica is a natural leader who understands what it takes to continue growing Popsugar in a media environment where audiences’ attention is more fragmented than ever before,” said Group Nine CEO, Ben Lerer. “Popsugar is already a category-defining media brand and I’m excited to see her continue to grow the brand for next-generation audiences.”

Marden added: “I am excited to take on this new role and lead the team into this next decade of growth where there is endless opportunity for the brand.”

A release announcing the promotion of Marden made no mention of Sugar.

 

Friday, May 28

Fortune’s editor is departing

Cliff Leaf is stepping down as editor in chief of Fortune, a role he has held since 2017.

CEO Alan Murray informed staffers of the change earlier this week in a memo, stating that Leaf plans to write a book, as well as other endeavors he will announce shortly.

“There is no way to fairly measure the many contributions he has made to this esteemed brand,” Murray said. “He is the best editor I’ve worked with — I still use him for all my important writings; he is a tireless idea generator, and he is a constant source of humor and wisdom.” 

While the search is underway for his successor, deputy editor Brian O’Keefe will serve as acting editor in chief.

 

Monday, May 24

Changes at Time

When Time editor in chief and chief executive officer Edward Felsenthal announced on Monday an ambitious target of 10 million subscribers by 2030 (it has two million paying subscribers across all its platforms), he also unveiled staff changes in a bid to transform its digital offering to achieve this goal.

Among the many changes, executive editor Kelly Conniff becomes senior executive editor, adding the magazine to her portfolio and leading the team of editors that oversee all of its platforms. After more than three years of leading the magazine, executive editor Ben Goldberger will take on a new portfolio, focusing on new ways for Time to expand its reach and impact, including developing a podcast strategy and increasing editorial partnerships.

Elsewhere, Dan Macsai takes on the additional role of vice president of editorial strategy. He has been growing the Time 100 most influential people list into other mediums, including an ABC show. As well as continuing to do this, in his new role he will work to develop and launch new editorial products designed to grow Time’s audience.

 

Thursday, May 6

Hearst Buyouts

Hearst Magazines is offering voluntary buyouts to staffers in its advertising sales and marketing division, it was announced Thursday. 

WWD understands that the terms on offer include three weeks’ payment for every year of service, while for 2021, bonuses and commission will be paid out for full at 100 percent of the target for eligible staff.

Being part of Hearst, a well diversified and stable parent company, has enabled us to stand by our employees through the worst of the pandemic by protecting jobs and enhancing benefits. I am so grateful for that,” said Debi Chirichella, president of Hearst Magazines, said in a staff memo. “However, this shift will require some changes to the structure of our magazines business, specifically within our advertising sales, marketing and iCrossing teams. These changes will not affect any editorial positions in the U.S.”

She cautioned that it is possible that involuntary departures may occur later this spring and that more changes are on the horizon in Europe, specifically in the U.K. and the Netherlands, including some reductions in frequency and brand closures.

“Moving forward, our brands around the world will collaborate more closely. Some colleagues in Europe will be impacted by these changes, and — as in the United States — we will offer generous voluntary separation packages whenever possible before the difficult decision to make any involuntary actions,” she added.

Unlike rivals Condé Nast and Meredith Corp., Hearst did not implement layoffs and furloughs amid the worst days of the pandemic. The exception is O, The Oprah Magazine where 59 staffers were laid off, but that’s understood to be due to the magazine’s transition to a quarterly.

 

Wednesday, April 28

Ebony’s New Editor in Chief

Following its relaunch under new ownership, Ebony has tapped Marielle Bobo as editor in chief and senior vice president of programming.

In her new role, Bobo will report to Ebony CEO Michele Ghee and oversee the development of editorial tone, video content, and the brand’s social media cadence across all platforms. At the top of her to do list will be hiring new editorial staffers and launching her first digital cover for Ebony in May.

“As both a seasoned editor and an experienced leader, she stood out to us as a multifaceted dynamo who not only possesses a wealth of proven editorial experience but who also understands the brand and has a definitive vision for its future,” Ghee said.

Bobo is no stranger to Ebony, having previously worked there for over five years as the fashion and beauty director. She has also held leadership roles at Essence and Urban One and most recently, she led editorial direction and strategy for Ayesha Curry’s AC Brands including Curry’s magazine, Sweet July.

“As the assault on Black bodies continues and a global pandemic ravages our communities, making sure the breadth of our stories is told is as important now as it was then,” she said. “I pick up this mantle with a reinforced commitment to continuing that legacy of excellence — providing a safe space for talented Black creators and ushering in a new generation of readers through bold storytelling and impactful experiences that educate, engage and inspire.”

Last year, former NBA player Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman acquired Ebony and Jet magazines, which have chronicled Black life in America for three-quarters of a century, from bankruptcy through his company Bridgeman Sports and Media for a reported $14 million.

 

Thursday, April 22

Keke Palmer Joins Refinery29’s Unbothered

Vice-owned Refinery29 has tapped Keke Palmer as a creative adviser to its Unbothered vertical, created for and by Black women.

In this newly created role specifically curated with Palmer, she will creatively consult across Unbothered, supporting and co-developing new projects that push conversations and Black culture forward, according to a company release. 

“I’m literally too excited about this. I started working with Unbothered years ago as a talent and I just loved how they created a safe space for Black women to share their stories, their experiences, their creativity — and their joy, honey. Because let’s not get it twisted, I’m very joyous…and no one’s going to steal my joy,” said Palmer, who is also the cover face of Unbothered’s first digital cover, photographed by Kanya Iwana.

In addition to Palmer, Unbothered has hired Brooke Obie as deputy director, overseeing the execution of Unbothered’s editorial strategy. Obie most recently served as managing editor at Shadow & Act.

Last year, Christene Barberich stepped down as Refinery29’s top editor after a number of former staffers shared their negative experiences as people of color working at the women’s lifestyle site. In September, she was succeeded by Simone Oliver, who joined from Facebook.

 

Monday, April 19

Insider Staffers Form Union

The trend of media workers unionizing is certainly showing no signs of slowing down in 2021.

The latest to do so are 300 staffers at Insider (formerly Business Insider), who are forming a union with The NewsGuild of New York.

The group, which represents a mix of journalists and editorial workers across multiple departments, on both web and video, hopes such a move will increase transparency in company decision-making, promote diversity, inclusion and equity in hiring and retention, and “build a collaborative environment that values their contributions and labor.”

“My colleagues and I deserve to have our voices heard and recognized,” said Nico Reyes, a producer at Insider. “We’re uniting to demand a seat at the table to bargain for a fair contract and better workplace. I’m so proud of the work that has been done so far and can’t wait to see where we go from here.”

The Insider Union is one of the largest digital shops to organize with the NewsGuild-CWA. It follows in the footsteps of The New York Times tech workers, the New York Daily News, The New Yorker, NBC News Digital, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

“I continue to be inspired by the ongoing commitment of media workers to address the deep challenges of our industry in their workplaces,” said Susan DeCarava, president of The NewsGuild of New York. “As the editorial workers at Insider declared this morning, they organized with the NYGuild to strengthen their newsroom and create an inclusive, safe, and collaborative professional workplace. Today, we all stand proudly and in solidarity with Insider Union.”

Insider is owned by Berlin-based publishing house Axel Springer.

 

Friday, April 16

Choire Sicha’s New Role

Choire Sicha is stepping down as editor of The New York Times’ Styles desk after nearly four years to take on a new role in the group’s newsletter division.

The Times just announced that Sicha will become a senior editor “charged with a project to help expand our newsletter portfolio” alongside Sam Dolnick, an assistant managing editor, and Adam Pasick, who oversees The Times’ portfolio of newsletters, including The Morning, DealBook and the Coronavirus Briefing.

“Newsletters are the internet’s oldest and newest format, and there is no one better than Choire to help us think through how to use them to form deeper connections with our readers and showcase new voices in ways that meaningfully expand and evolve Times journalism,” it said in a note posted on its web site.

The position of Styles editor is now open.

 

Monday, April 12

BDG Attempts to Revive Gawker Again

Leah Finnegan has been tapped as editor in chief of Gawker as part of owner Bustle Digital Group’s latest attempt to revive the the historically snarky gossip site.

Finnegan is no stranger to the brand, having been its features editor between 2014 and 2015. Most recently, she was executive editor of The Outline, the Millennial-focused, general interest news site which BDG shuttered in April 2020 in a bid to reduce costs amid the pandemic.

Finnegan, who has also worked at The New York Times, addressed the news, first reported by The New York Times, on Twitter, stating: “The rumours are true.”

BDG acquired Gawker in 2018 for $1.35 million in a bankruptcy court auction and set about brining it back to life with former Details editor in chief Dan Peres at the helm. That didn’t last too long as the effort was killed and Peres and everyone else he hired departed.

A rep. for BDG confirmed that it was relaunching Gawker, but did not provide any further information.

 

Thursday, April 8

Teen Vogue Has a New Executive Editor

While the search continues for Teen Vogue’s next editor in chief after Condé Nast cut ties with incoming top editor Alexi McCammond, Danielle Kwateng has been named executive editor, taking the helm from Samhita Mukhopadhyay who left last month.

In a post announcing her new position, Kwateng, who has worked at Teen Vogue for two years as the entertainment and culture director, explained why the brand’s social media accounts have been quiet amid the fallout over the appointment of McCammond as top editor in March.

Condé Nast eventually parted ways with McCammond after pressure continued to mount on the publisher over her past racist and homophobic tweets. That included Ulta pausing its current advertising campaign with Teen Vogue that’s said to be worth seven figures, while the Fashion for All Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to create awareness and promote diversity and equality in the fashion industry, called on the publisher to immediately remove McCammond from her position. Earlier, more than 20 members of Teen Vogue’s staff wrote to Condé Nast expressing concerns over McCammond. 

“As history has taught us, society has the capacity to evolve. We’ve seen this countless times throughout history with movements, uprisings, and even renaissances. But accountability is a critical part of that growing process. We at Teen Vogue have read your comments and emails and we have seen the pain and frustration caused by resurfaced social media posts,” said Kwateng.

“While our staff continued doing the groundbreaking and progressive work we’re known for, we stopped posting it on social media as we turned inward and had a lot of tough discussions about who we are and what comes next. We’re not perfect, but we do know our place in the media landscape and recognize that our readers make up the DNA of our work.”

In addition to McCammond’s tweets, Newsweek reported that Christine Davitt, a senior social media manager at Teen Vogue, had also made racial slurs online, using the n-word on Twitter twice in 2009 when referring to a friend.

 

Tuesday, April 6

Refinery29’s New Beauty Editor

Refinery29 is beefing up its beauty offering with the appointment of Sara Tan as beauty director. Tan spent almost seven years at Bustle as senior fashion and beauty editor and has also held roles at Tiger Beat magazine and AOL. 

“Refinery29 is known for its genre-defining beauty content which celebrates self-expression, acceptance and innovation,” says Simone Oliver, global editor in chief of Refinery29. “I’m thrilled to continue that legacy with the addition of Sara Tan, who will bring her unique perspective and experience to further Refinery29’s authority in the beauty space.” 

Tan’s appointment comes as Refinery29 teams up with Very Good Light, a platform aiming to democratize beauty for all people, for an editorial partnership exploring gender through the lens of beauty. 

Last year, Christene Barberich stepped down as Refinery29’s top editor after a number of former staffers shared their negative experiences as people of color working at the women’s lifestyle site. In September, she was succeeded by Oliver, who joined the Vice Media-owned site from Facebook.

 

Monday, March 29

Bustle Digital Group Announces New Hires

BDG has made two hires in its lifestyle division, comprised of Bustle, Elite Daily, Nylon, Romper and The Zoe Report.

Faith Xue joins as executive beauty director, where she will oversee beauty content across all sites as well as set beauty strategy for the company, while Melissa Dahl comes to the company as executive director of health and wellness, where she will be responsible for building out health coverage. Xue was most recently the editorial director at Byrdie and Dahl was the executive editor of The Cut, New York Magazine’s fashion vertical.

“There is an increasing demand from our readers and advertisers to deepen our coverage within the health, wellness and beauty spaces,” said Emma Rosenblum, BDG’s chief content officer for lifestyle. “Both Melissa and Faith bring extensive experience and knowledge in these categories, and I am excited to see what they bring to each of our sites.”

She previously told WWD that she will be searching for potential acquisitions in the health and wellness or food spaces.

 

For more, see:

Departures Magazine Is Going Digital First and Will No Longer Be Published by Meredith

EXCLUSIVE: Verizon Media to Launch Yahoo Shops

Alexi McCammond Is No Longer Heading to Teen Vogue

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