Is a fashion editor’s head on the table in the Hearst Tower? If so, it’s not Marie Claire editor in chief Joanna Coles, who signed a new long-term contract with the company two weeks ago and has strong circulation and ad page numbers to hang her hat on. Perhaps Harper’s Bazaar’s Glenda Bailey is on the way out? She has a new counterpart on the business side, hard-charging Carol Smith, who can’t be happy with the magazine’s current numbers and will want to turn the magazine around right off the bat. Smith certainly is used to editors doing her bidding — at Elle, she was senior vice president and chief brand officer, and editor in chief Robbie Myers reported to her. She doesn’t have similar power at Harper’s, although Hearst Magazines president David Carey recently rebadged all the company’s publishers as “chief revenue officers.”
“I think the perception is that Carol needs to prove herself because it didn’t work out at Bon Appétit,” said one Hearst source. “Glenda and Carol, they seem to be speaking the same language,” said another source. At least for now.
This story first appeared in the May 31, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Smith certainly has her work cut out for her. Harper’s Bazaar finished the first half of 2011 down 5.4 percent in ad pages and circulation numbers so far this year are behind those of 2010. The book missed its rate base for January, February and March, according to data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Even if Bailey’s performance of late has failed to impress, it would be unorthodox for Carey to bring both a new editor in chief and publisher in at Bazaar at the same time. Then again, new talent took over on both sides within three months of each other at Town & Country.
One source at Bazaar said there has been no serious talk of Bailey being replaced. “Glenda rumors come all the time, it’s just like the boy who cries wolf,” the source said. “For the past two years, there have been Glenda rumors.”
What about Kate White, who’s been running Cosmopolitan since 1998? Chief revenue officer Donna Kalajian Lagani raised the magazine’s rate base from 2.9 million to 3 million at the start of 2011, and the title’s circulation numbers have mostly kept up so far (the magazine missed the mark in March). But ad pages were down 9.4 percent for the first quarter over the same period in 2010.
Let the summer guessing games go on.