Memo Pad: No Words... Short Stint... Rewriting History...

The third issue of Portfolio will arrive on newsstands later this week with one thing missing...

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NO WORDS: The third issue of Portfolio will arrive on newsstands later this week with one thing missing — an editor's letter from Joanne Lipman. Though Lipman penned letters in the first two issues of the Condé Nast business title, she's opted not to include one for the foreseeable future. "The first two letters were to introduce the magazine," said a Portfolio spokeswoman. "For now, there will not be an editor's letter." However, the spokeswoman insisted, the option is open to bring it back.

Some who received early copies of the October issue thought it strange Lipman opted not to include a letter, especially since she's a highly visible branding tool for the magazine. And for a new title, the letter is where an editor can deepen his or her relationship with a growing audience. "An ed's note really helps a young magazine to establish the tone and the sensibility that the magazine is presenting," said Stephen Perrine, editor in chief of Best Life.

That said, consumers outside of media observers and New York generally don't read them as closely. "I bet if you did any research, the media and paparazzi would be much more aware of the editor's letter than someone in Detroit or Texas," said Martin S. Walker, a magazine consultant. "Their 'celebritude' is much more within the industry, and certainly within the fashion industry."

Not every business magazine runs an editor's letter. Fortune's managing editor, Andy Serwer, has run one more frequently than in years past since he took over last October. BusinessWeek's Stephen Adler runs them on occasion; The Economist does not. But, though Portfolio's competitors are inconsistent with letters, most Condé Nast editors take the time to pen at least a few graphs to readers — Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair editor in chief, sometimes takes three pages.

Still, outside observers thought Lipman's decision wasn't that surprising. "The ed's note is generally the most poorly read page in the magazine. It should be. If you're doing something else that's getting less attention than the magazine, that page has to go. Somebody's got to bat ninth. The editor's note is that position," said Perrine. — Stephanie D. Smith
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