The Michael Fuchs ouster wasn’t the only big news at Time Warner last week.
Time Inc., the company’s magazine division, named new editors at two of its magazines and disbanded an L.A.-based development unit as new editor-in-chief Norman Pearlstine consolidated his power over the sprawling publishing empire.
The company named new managing editors, considered the top editorial post, at flagship Time and Sports Illustrated, while shuttering Time Inc. Ventures, a 12-person West Coast operation that developed or managed specialty titles from Martha Stewart Living and Parenting to Vibe and Sunset.
At Time, 17-year-veteran Walter Isaacson returned as managing editor, replacing Jim Gaines, who was unceremoniously bumped up to corporate editor and assigned to assist Pearlstine on various projects, including a potential Time Inc. book imprint.
Sports Illustrated’s assistant managing editor, Bill Colson, was named to the managing editor slot, winning a lengthy and public competition with Daniel Okrent, Life’s managing editor, who was considered a more likely choice by some observers. Mark Mulvoy, whom Colson replaces, will move to editor, a newly created post where he’ll oversee SI for Kids, Olympics issues and other special projects.
In other changes, Paul Sagan, senior VP at Time Inc. New Media, will succeed Isaacson in his most recent job as president and editor of the increasingly high-profile unit, responsible for the Pathfinder Web site and other projects. And Isolde Motley was promoted to development editor, from editor of This Old House, responsible for some functions formerly at the Time Inc. Ventures unit, which had been headed by Bob Miller.
The titles that reported to Miller will now report directly to New York, and the jobs of Miller and his colleagues have been eliminated.
In a staff memo, Pearlstine and Don Logan, Time Inc.’s president, said the company’s “more entrepreneurial, more flexible… (and) less bureaucratic” structure led to the unit’s disbanding, which allows for “greater opportunity to share knowledge and talent across all Time Inc. divisions.” But Martin Walker, a magazine industry consultant, lamented the move may “ruin the whole entrepreneurial spirit” of those magazines, which embraced a culture entirely different from the newsweekly-dominated New York-based titles. “I suspect they’re going to take the gem they had and ruin it.”
The ventures unit was the only group that reported directly to Logan on editorial as well as business matters.
In a further sign of Pearlstine’s broader power base, the former Wall Street Journal editor also was handed both editorial and business-side responsibility for the company’s international magazines, including Time Intl., Asiaweek, Who, President and Dancyu.
While dwarfed by Time Warner’s newly combined entertainment operations, the publishing division – which also includes book units – generated $3.4 billion in revenues and $430 million in cash flow last year, representing 22% and 15% of the company’s total, respectively.