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JOINING TIME: A successor for departing chief executive Laura Lang is months away, but as Time Inc. prepares for its spin-off later this year, executives are moving toward clarifying the leadership structure at the magazine level.
On Friday, Time magazine finally got its own vice president, sales, Moritz Loew, a former Huffington Post ad sales chief.
Last October, long before the dance with Meredith Corp. and the idea of a spin-off was given serious consideration, Time Inc. was in flux, with a high-profile departure and declines in advertising.
RELATED STORY: Time, Meredith Talks Off >>
The worldwide publisher of Time magazine and, before that, the publisher of the Sports Illustrated group, Kim Kelleher, a rock star at the company, had eloped to run a blog network, Say Media.
So, Time Inc. shuffled around publishers among titles and restructured its sales force.
Instead of a dedicated brand publisher, it appointed a group publisher in charge of several brands — ad sales and marketing at the news and business titles, for instance, are now led by Jed Hartman — and each individual title got its own vice president, sales.
Brendan Ripp, the then-publisher of Money and a former publisher of Time, was seen as a natural Kelleher successor. But instead he was handed the reins of Fortune, where he’s now experimenting with a new advertising program that has Fortune editorial staff create original content for advertisers. In November, Tony Haskel, an executive sales director at Fortune, got Ripp’s old job at Money.
But though Hartman had been selling Time as group publisher, the flagship title floundered on the traditional advertising front without its own dedicated salesman — vice president in Time-speak — for eight months.
Reflecting industry-wide trends, the weekly finished 2012 down double digits, 12.27 percent to 1,202 ad pages, from 1,370 last year. Money, a monthly, and Fortune, a biweekly, saw smaller declines, 6.4 and 5.3 percent, respectively. Despite sometimes eye-catching covers, newsstand at the newsweekly plummeted 23 percent, while overall circulation dipped 0.5 percent. Lang’s lone legacy may be putting Time Inc. on Apple’s newsstand, but that didn’t happen until last June, too late to help Time’s circulation numbers.
To turn the weekly around, Hartman has hired Loew, a veteran of the tech world, a move that underscores the pressure on Time Inc. to beef up digital sales as print advertising and circulation continues to dip and the company gets ready to be spun off into a publicly traded entity that’ll be under regular scrutiny from Wall Street. It’s Loew’s digital experience that Hartman highlighted in his message to staff.
“Time continues to aggressively expand its digital chops, and it was very important to find someone with an exceptional digital IQ,” Hartman wrote. “[Loew] is a true digital native.”
Loew is best known for his short tenure at the Huffington Post, where he was let go for not disclosing a DWI charge from 2003 that resulted in an outstanding arrest warrant in his name for not appearing in court. At the time, Loew said the charge had been resolved but admitted he should have been up front about his past. AOL said in statements his hiring did not meet the company’s standards.
Loew started his career at Microsoft and later worked in digital sales at NBC and MSNBC.
With Loew’s appointment, only the ceo seat remains up for grabs as Time Inc. heads toward to its spin-off.
Lang, Time Inc. said, will stay on in her post until a successor is found.