Memo Pad: Changes At The Top... News International To Close Magazines Division...

Traditional media companies are in existential crisis, as Wednesday's high-level executive changes at Hearst Corp. proved.

Jack Kliger

Jack Kliger

Photo By WWD Archive

CHANGES AT THE TOP: If anyone needed convincing that traditional media companies are in existential crisis, Wednesday's high-level executive changes at Hearst Corp. and Hachette Filipacchi could be further proof. Victor Ganzi, Hearst's president, chief executive officer and director, resigned after six years of leading the parent of Hearst magazines. His predecessor and vice chairman of the Hearst board, Frank A. Bennack Jr., will serve as interim ceo. At Hachette Filipacchi, Alain Lemarchand, a senior vice president of operations at French parent Lagardère Active Media, will replace ceo Jack Kliger, who assumes the newly created title of chairman working on "strategic relationships for the company" with no apparent portfolio.

Ganzi's exit after a total of 18 years at Hearst surprised observers for its abruptness, as did a press release citing "irreconcilable policy differences" with the board of trustees regarding the future of the company. He is thought to have recently lost the board's support. The board has created a search committee to find a replacement. Observers said Ganzi's departure is particularly noteworthy given the traditional longevity of Hearst ceo's.

Ganzi did not return calls, but said in a statement: "It has been an honor leading this company and working with such talented people throughout the organization....Based upon 15 record profit years out of the last 16, Hearst is well positioned to extend its leadership in the media industry in the future. I will work with the company to ensure an orderly transition of leadership."

While a spokeswoman said it is too soon to discuss a successor, that isn't stopping some from speculating whether Hearst Magazines president Cathleen Black will be a candidate and possibly will be succeeded in her current post by Michael Clinton, executive vice president, chief marketing officer and publishing director. Sources pointed out that Hearst rarely brings in outsiders in senior positions, generally preferring to promote insiders.

At Hachette, Kliger's exit after nine years was long predicted. He was recently honored by the Magazine Publishers of America with a lifetime achievement award. (He was chairman of the MPA at the time the organization revealed plans to give him the award. He used his term to champion audience-based, rather than circulation-based, magazine measurement.) His reputation for hard drive and bluster is typical of a certain disappearing era of magazine publishers. For example, in the tribute video for his lifetime achievement award, former colleague David Carey (now a publishing director at Condé Nast, owner of WWD) described him as "the big imposing Jack Kliger, who ruled over the Four Seasons and industry trade shows like the great king that he is."
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