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min Honors the 'Intriguings' of Today and Tomorrow
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
At our New York breakfast on Dec. 3, min continued a 10-year tradition of honoring 25 magazine and media executives who are "intriguing." They may or may not have been "hot" in 2013, but they definitely made a difference this year that could have a significant impact next year and beyond.
A newer tradition is our honoring 11 People to Watch. These executives' impacts have begun, and their being media professionals age 30 and younger suggests that they could be forces in the industry for years to come.
(2013's 25 Most Intriguing -- listed alphabetically)
Trei Brundrett is a 2008 co-founder and VP/product and technology of Vox Media, which he helped build from the ground-up to produce 25 million users for the sports-centric SB Nation, the “innovative culture site” in The Verge and the Brundrett-described “killer gaming site” in Polygon. What works well is Brundrett integrating unique ad units into Vox’s “edgy editorial layout.”
Bob Carrigan became Dun & Bradstreet CEO in September 2013 after a successful five-year stint at IDG Communications, where he led the transformation of the computer-magazine publisher from print to digital. “Bob quickly emerged as the candidate who would bring a powerful new perspective to our business,” said D&B lead director Christopher Coughlin. “His track record of strategic leadership and innovation, combined with his ability to leverage a company’s core strengths and assets, uniquely position him to begin a new position in D&B history.”
Sara Critchfield resembles an Internet flower child when the Los Angeles-based Upworthy founder/editorial director states that “I believe that our world is at its best when we elevate love, justice, freedom and respect as our highest values.” But she is also an entrepreneur as the 1½-year-old Upworthy became the fastest-growing media site in so short a time span.
Kevin Delaney and Jay Lauf built Atlantic Media’s online-only Quartz Web site to such a degree in one year that Lauf ended nearly six years as publisher of The Atlantic flagship to devote full time to the international business brand that pioneered native advertising and has become a formidable competitor to far more established print and digital brands. Including The Wall Street Journal, where Delaney was online managing editor when hired.
Tom Florio made an “Intriguing” career switch in February 2012 when he became Advanstar Fashion Group CEO. The 2002-2010 Vogue publisher went from the runways of New York, Paris and Milan to running the b2b “Magic Project” twice yearly in Las Vegas. Florio is also a past publisher of Condé Nast Traveler and GQ as well as a past president of The New Yorker.
Nancy Gibbs set a precedent in September 2013 with her promotion to Time’s first female managing editor in its 90-year history. But Gibbs has made a difference throughout her 28-year Time career, with the tough Broken Promises December 2 cover story on Obamacare being her 175th.
Christine Guilfoyle did not “come home” to her second round as Every Day with Rachael Ray publisher. It came to her after Guilfoyle’s 2005-2007 first round and her excellent rapport with Ray led Meredith National Media Group CEO Tom Harty to move her back to the magazine after its October 2011 acquisition from Reader’s Digest Association. Harty and Meredith Women’s Magazines president Tom Witschi gave Guilfoyle further responsibilities in 2013 with oversight of Eating Well and the Allrecipes launch, and the advertising success—Rachael Ray finished with +9.62% ad pages—led to Harty promoting her to publisher of Meredith flagship Better Homes and Gardens on Nov. 13.
Tom Harty had an active third full year as Meredith National Media Group CEO with many ad-page gains, the launch of digital-to-print spinoff Allrecipes, and a Meredith Corp. stock price that rose from $34.45 per share on New Year’s Eve to over $50 by Thanksgiving. In February, he and Meredith Corp. CEO Steve Lacy nearly engineered the purchase of People and other Time Inc. entertainment/lifestyle magazines from Time Warner, and will that rumor be revived in 2014 in advance of the Time Inc. spinoff?
Jayne Jamison added Redbook publisher to Seventeen publisher in May 2013 after the retirement of Mary Morgan. All familiar, because Jamison was Redbook publisher from 1997 until moving to Seventeen with the July 2003 acquisition by Hearst Magazines. So, too, is “publisher double-duty,” with Jamison first doing both at Redbook and Victoria in the early 2000s.
J.R. McCabe was hired to the new position of Time Inc. senior vp/video by then-CEO Laura Lang in Nov. 2012 with the mission to make the company’s video unit as potent as the one that he built over his six years at Meredith Corp., where he rose to chief video officer. From McCabe’s unit in 2013 came two live daily videos from Sports Illustrated—SI Now and Pro Football Now—along with the Entertainment Weekly-produced daily Must List and TV Recaps. Expect much more in 2014, as he has an ally in Lang successor Joe Ripp..
Howard Mittman has been, in min’s words, “exactly the right person to lead a storied brand” since his February 2009 promotion to Wired publisher. He and his staff producing more digital ad revenues than print certainly goes against the traditional Condé Nast grain, and the successful “Disruptive by Design” (renamed the Wired business conference) and health conferences were very much in “vogue” with advertisers and readers. But editorially, nothing was “disruptive” in 2013 as the Nov. 2012 editor-in-chief transition from Chris Anderson to Scott Dadich went smoothly.
Jonah Peretti made his seven-year-old BuzzFeed a force in 2013 in changing the media and social media landscapes. The site’s 18- to-34-year-old demographic likes BuzzFeed’s positioning hard and soft news together on the home page even though that earns scorn from the so-called establishment. Still, will BuzzFeed become more Huffington Post-like (Peretti helped launch that, too) in 2014 and emphasize a higher quality of journalism?
Bill Phillips was David Zinczenko’s top lieutenant at Men’s Health from 2003 through Nov. 19, 2012, in serving as executive editor and online editor when Zinczenko surprisingly left that day. Maria Rodale handed Phillips the editor-in-chief’s reins, and not a beat was missed with MH finishing 2013 +25% in ad pages. How will Phillips fare in 2014, when he will be facing the Zinczenko-led rival Men’s Fitness for an entire year?
Connie Anne Phillips was 2012 min Publisher of the Year after leading InStyle to ad-page gains throughout her 2009-2013 reign. So what does Phillips do? Move to Glamour in May 2013 with new challenges that face a traditional beauty magazine as it makes inroads into fashion. Earlier in her career, Phillips was Vogue associate publisher under fellow 2013 “Intriguing” Tom Florio.
Adam Rapoport and Pamela Drucker-Mann were quite the “dynamic duo” in 2013. When they became Bon Appétit editor-in-chief and publisher in early-2011, the perception was that they were running Condé Nast’s “fortunate” epicurean magazine after the 2009 closure of the more respected (but less profitable) Gourmet. Their solution was to combine food and “culture,” and the result as a +21.84% advertising 2013 that earned BA “Magazine of the Year” honors from Advertising Age, and it earned Rapoport and Drucker-Mann the CN “Collaborative Leadershp” award from CEO Chuck Townsend and president Bob Sauerberg.
Linda Johnson Rice ended 65 years of the Ebony-and Jet-flagshipped Johnson Publishing Co. being a “family affair” with her July 2010 hire of CEO Desirée Rogers, and since then both magazines were editorially restructured under Amy Barnett and Mitzi Miller, respectively. Ebony and Jet are now more women’s-targeted, but a further challenge in 2014 and beyond is the changing African-American demographic as it increasingly includes immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean. It is a far different audience from what her late and legendary father John H. Johnson targeted in 1945, when Negro Digest became Ebony.
Joe Ripp was Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes’ surprise hire as Time Inc. CEO in July 2013 after perceived favorite Mike Klingensmith elected to remain CEO of his hometown Minneapolis Star-Tribune. (Ripp and Klingensmith are both Time Inc. alumni.) Ripp’s goal is to make Time Inc. attractive to investors when it is spun off from Time Warner during 2014, and his first significant move was the Oct. 31 hire of VP/content Norm Pearlstine that ended a 90-year “separation” of church (business side) and state (editorial side). The result was the departure of the respective corporate editor-in-chief Martha Nelson, and the question now coupled with the spinoff is “What’s next?”
Mitch Rouda has no problem being “down on the farm” after the Farm Journal e-media president has led a remarkable transformation of the centenarian company’s revenue mix. Rouda is helped by agriculture being a remarkably strong component of the U.S. economy in 2013. Best evidence is North Dakota, where wheat and oil clearly mix.
Roy Sekoff is building an intriguing video model on Huffington Post Live in pulling in community engagement and live person-on-the-street input/perspective. Many are saying aloha following the September launch of HuffPost Hawaii.
Shane Smith is Canadian, but the 1994 Vice co-founder/CEO is an adherent to the late Sen. Barry Goldwater’s famous quote, Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Change “liberty” to “the First Amendment” and Vice’s “irreverent and raw” content is reaching the mainstream with an Advertising Age-described “print-meets-digital-meets-video-meets-cable” strategy generating revenues that were “reportedly north of $175 million last year.” Key investor Rupert Murdoch may politically be more Goldwater than Vice, but his 20th-Century Fox invested $70 million in Vice last August.
Richard Turley “crossed the pond” in late-2009 from The Guardian to become Bloomberg Businessweek creative director, and he turned a respected but relatively staid brand to one that made waves with such “nonconformist” covers as “merged” Continental and United jet planes (February 2012), Comrade Putin’s Oddball Parts Last Stand (September 2013) and Death Inc.’s “grim reaper” exposé of funeral-home conglomerate Service Corp. International (Nov. 2013). Turley joins his British colleagues at The Economist in using unorthodox creativity to make an effective cover statement.
Étienne Uzac is the 2006 co-founder of the multilingual and global International Business Times, but the qu’est-ce que çait? ended in August 2013 when IBT Media purchased Newsweek from Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActive Corp. for what was described as “a modest sum.” However, there was nothing modest about Uzac's Dec. 3 announcement that IBT will be resuming Newsweek's weekly print edition in early 2014. That is a reversal of the Diller-orchestrated shut-down in January 2013—just one month shy of the brand’s 80th birthday--and will come in spite of IBT Media being a digital publisher.
Jim VandeHei went from journalist to corporate on Oct. 14 when the 2006 Politico founding editor-in-chief became president/ceo. Yet in 2013, Politico content increased in importance with the launches of the namesake print edition and Capital New York, which gave the brand voices in the government and business centers of the nation. In 2014, let’s see if the competition between Politico and the more established National Journal remains “politically correct.”
Troy Young has shaken up Hearst Magazines Digital since the Say Media alumnus’ May 2013 hire as president through tech overhauls and executive appointments. Including at Cosmo.com, where Young’s hire of editor Amy Odell was part what print editor-in-chief Joanna Coles says has been part of his “coming in like a wrecking ball. He’s making big changes digitally, which is what we need.”
David Zinczenko had one emotion on Nov. 19, 2012, when Rodale CEO Maria Rodale ended his 12 years as Men’s Health editor-in-chief because of her belief that he had overly personified the magazine. Quite the opposite emotion on Nov.19, 2013, when the Zinczenko-led Galvanized LLC signed an agreement with Bonnier Corp. to rebuild the Bonnier Brands imprint. Most intriguing in 2013, however, was Zinczenko and Galvanized being handed the reins of Men’s Fitness and other American Media Inc. magazines in March, and Men’s Fitness’ 2013 advertising pages went from moribund to +29% at year-end. In 2014, with min Hall of Famer John Rasmus having a full year as the Zinczenko-hired MF editor-in-chief, the competition with the long-dominant MH could get interesting.
(Eleven People to Watch -- listed alphabetically)
Leann Bonnanno as Forbes Media integragted sales manager is the new breed of publishing sales pro: creative, client-focused, analytical and relevant. In her five years at Forbes, Bonnano has excelled at several roles (administration, operations, marketing and sales) across an array of media channels (magazines, digital, conferences, research and BrandVoice). In fact, Bonnano has already exceeded her 2013 sales goal by 45% with a month to go. She has also closed 12 new accounts.
Anne-Marie Botek took just 15 months to turn her internship position at AgingCare.com into a full-time job as editor-in-chief--all while competing for a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic swim team in the 50-meter freestyle. Her journalism flair showed for the unusual approach to serious issues with Why Every Woman Needs a Friend like Rhoda Morganstern. While "traditional" media focused on Rhoda star Valerie Harper's brain cancer, Botek took some some memorable moments from The Mary Tyler Moore show and relating them to the types of problems caregivers face every day.
Megan Gambino moved quickly at Smithsonian.com from intern to staff writer/editor because in two-plus years she became among the brand's most prolific writers. Gambino has has a huge impact on the development of high-quality articles, which drive traffic to the site She has been the go-to person for new ideas, new content products and big ideas for pitching to advertisers.
Janine Kahn's professional career began while attending the University of Southern California journalism school, when she became one of the Los Angeles Times' earliest Web journalists. In 2009, Kahn left traditional media to start an editorial program for Webby award-winning community sites Dogster.com and Catster.com. Today, Dogster and Catster get as many as 3 million visitors per month combined.(5)
Christina Mlynski joined Plano, Tex.-based HousingWire.com one year ago after graduating from the University of North Texas, and she has quickly become a powerhouse reporter in having more than 780 bylines since her hire. That is more than three news stories a day, every single business day, for over a year.
Julie Muroff is the driving force behind DeusM's new content -driven approach to building online business-to-business communities. In her new role as VP of business development, Muroff has directly coordinated and managed more than 45 community launches since DeusM was launched by UBM in 2010.
Lindsay Nelson founded Slate Custom, Slate.com's in-house branded content creative agency, in Sept. 2012. Since then, Nelson has guided Slate Custom to capture over $10 million in total revenue as VP of integrated programs in building a staff of 10 people.
Brian Ries joined a social-media-deficient The Daily Beast in 2010, when social media was not a priority. The site send out maybe six tweets a day, a few Facebook posts and total community numbers were around 50,000. Ries took control by devising a broad strategy that tied social properties to the newsroom and made them reliable sources of news. The Daily Beast is now pushing 2 million followers.
Jessica Rubino has proven her ability as deputy editor/digital & consumer for the Penton Media Inc.-published New Hope Natural Media to produce content for both consumer and business-to-business audiences through print, digital, video and event platforms. In her role as the lead content liaison to the New Hope Natural Media advertising sales team, Rubino has an intuitive understanding of how integrated media can be used strategically to drive audience growth, market visibility and revenue.
Michael Scarchilli represents a true changing-of-the-guard, and his serving as The Bond Buyer editor-in-chief is a decision in line with the shift in overall strategy by b2b parent company SourceMedia. He has since moved The Bond Buyer's daily print edition into the background while still maintaining its revenue stream, and he oversaw the revamping and modernization of the brand's Web site, including the successful integration of video content, social media and real-time news posting.
Callie Schweitzer's recognition as Time magazine director of digital innovation includes being among BusinessInsider's "30 Most Important Women in Tech Under 30." It quoted a colleague of the 24-year-old Schweitzer as saying: "I don't think I'm overstating things when I say that Callie will likely be running the media world by the time she is 30 (or whatever the 'media world' looks like by that point). She is literally the future of media."
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