Time taps top editor

Ex-staffer Stengel new top dog

A day after Time Warner moved Jim Kelly to another job at Time Inc., Time magazine has named former staffer Richard Stengel as its new managing editor.

Stengel was considered a dark horse, possessing less star power than some of the other candidates, a list that insiders believed included Tina Brown and Slate’s Jacob Weisberg.

But he brings some insider credentials of his own: He is a former Time mag staffer who served as national and cultural affairs editor at various points over the last two decades. He also once headed up Time.com.

For the last two years he has overseen the National Constitution Center, a Philadelphia museum and think tank.

Move got plaudits from pundits, who believe Stengel’s news chops will ensure mag continues its serious focus.

For Hollywood, Stengel’s culture background makes it likely the director and entertainer profiles that Kelly emphasized will remain.

New editor will have his work cut out for him, though. Like Hollywood, the magazine world has endured the effects of fragmentation. And Stengel’s main charge will be to find the right coverage formula to keep the magazine relevant to a swath of readers that at last count topped 5 million.

Stengel’s honeymoon with upper management is likely to be short; Time Inc., the largest mag publisher in the country, has faced a series of executive layoffs and cost-cutting moves over the last year.

While the Stengel announcement was a surprise, the departure of his predecessor was not. Reports of Kelly exiting the mag had been making the rounds for weeks.

In his new role, Kelly will oversee areas like standards and practices and larger policy for Time Inc.

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