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HELLO, MR. PRESIDENT: On Wednesday night, President Obama summoned congressional leaders locked in a budget stalemate to the White House for a nighttime meeting, but today he has some lighter fare on the schedule. The President will greet more than 100 executives from Hearst’s magazine division — in Washington for the firm’s biannual company-wide meeting — in the White House’s State Dining Room before turning the room over to a panel of senior advisers, including Valerie Jarrett; Melody Barnes, director of the Domestic Policy Council; Gene Sperling, assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and Tina Tchen, First Lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff. The panel will speak to the executives about issues related to women — health care reform; the importance of encouraging women to enter science and math–oriented fields, and childhood obesity — according to Hannah August, a White House spokeswoman.
“When it comes to issues as it relates to women, our company is a leader in that space,” said Hearst magazine president David Carey, when asked why his team would get face time with the President. “Keep in mind we have all the senior managers, including all the senior editors in chief, who together have tens of millions of passionate consumers, readers, advocates.…I have a sense that they see us a conduit to that marketplace.”
Executives from every sector of the company’s magazine division, including Stateside representatives from the international titles, CDS (Hearst’s distribution company) and iCrossing (the company’s recently acquired digital marketing firm), have gone to Washington for the meeting.
“We do this every two years,” said Jessica Kleiman, spokeswoman for Hearst. “This is David’s first conference. Last time we did it in New York because it was 2009 and that’s what people were doing, staying home.”
The executives spent the day inside Washington’s Newseum, near the National Gallery. “We’re having this meeting in a big glass room overlooking the mall and the Capitol building, which reinforces transparency,” said Carey. There were five speakers on Thursday, including Hearst executive vice president John Loughlin, publishing director Michael Clinton and Carey. “The Hachette acquisition will make us the most international publishing company of all time,” Carey told the group when it was his turn to speak. New York University professor and social media academic Clay Shirky and Paul Begala, CNN political analyst, also addressed the group.
Vice President Joe Biden will come by the space to address the executives on Friday, the last day of the meeting.
Hearst has created a slogan and Twitter feed–cum-hashtag for the event — “Elect to Lead.” “We normally tell people to put their devices away,” Carey said, “but we actually said ‘No, share this with the world.’” He was standing on the street outside the W hotel, adjacent to the White House and across the street from the Treasury Department, where the Hearst posse is staying. “I think maybe the presidential motorcade is about to go by me,” Carey said. “That’s pretty exciting.” He took out his iPhone and snapped a picture. He said that today he might even get to shake the President’s hand.
— Zeke Turner