NEW YORK — Just weeks after Primedia announced that its ceo Tom Rogers was leaving the company over strategic differences with the board, company executives said on Friday that Elizabeth Crow, editorial director of the consumer magazine group, had been dismissed.
The move was not exactly a surprise.
This story first appeared in the May 5, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Hired by Rogers largely because of her experience as editor of Mademoiselle, Crow was thought to be a good candidate to help turn around Seventeen magazine and to work with Caroline Miller on New York Magazine when she was hired in August.
But with the sale of Seventeen to Hearst and the departure of Rogers, Crow’s role — as well as her allegiances — diminished. And the teen magazine had underperformed on her watch, as newsstand sales continued to erode. Between Crow and Miller, there had been a turf war that was talked about at water coolers all over Primedia. And though a sale of New York might occur this year, executives said on Friday such a sale is not imminent. But they indicated this was not the sole reason for her departure.
A bubbly woman with no shortage of ideas for New York as well as Seventeen, Crow began almost immediately to send in a flurry of proposals to Miller. But according to sources, Miller and the New York staff frequently found Crow’s involvement meddlesome and her ideas sophomoric.
“To describe it as a catfight is not even accurate,” said one person who worked closely with Miller. “Catfight implies that the issues were insignificant, and their differences were in no way insignificant.”
According to New York sources, Crow suggested doing a critical story on the families of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks that took them to task for what Crow apparently viewed as incessant whining.
“Caroline found it appalling,” said one source. “It was a sensationalist headline — something like ‘Will They Ever Shut Up?’ — that didn’t acknowledge the audience of New York Magazine in any way.”
A couple of months later, others said, Miller contacted Crow to tell her that she was planning a cover story on police commissioner Ray Kelly, whose radical reconstruction of the NYPD to fight the war on terrorism was being prominently featured in the news. Crow, they said, didn’t know who he was.
“It all worked out in the end,” said another source at the magazine. “The story was prominently featured in the magazine.” But it had to be moved off the cover in favor of a service piece.
As the months dragged on, the relationship improved somewhat, but some attributed that to fewer interactions with Miller and more with the magazine’s art department.
“She sort of camps out there. I think she’s a little afraid of Caroline,” one staffer said recently.
Miller did not return a call seeking comment and a Primedia spokesman declined to discuss the reasons for Crow’s dismissal. Crow could not be reached.