HEARST’S NEW DIGITAL BUZZ: Early on Tuesday, it seemed as though a housecleaning was under way at Hearst Magazines.
Amina Akhtar, the executive editor of elle.com, tweeted she’d been laid off, and it was later confirmed Abby Gardner, the digital director of cosmopolitan.com, was also out. But it seems at least the two editors were let go to make room for a pair of well-known bloggers. Amy Odell, who just launched Buzzfeed Fashion in July, is jumping to Cosmopolitan to become the new editor of its Web site after a year and a half at the site popular for its goofy listicles. And Leah Chernikoff, the editorial director of the blog Fashionista, is joining elle.com in a similar capacity.
The hires were made by Troy Young, the new president of Hearst Magazines Digital Media, who came over from digital outfit Say Media in May and has in a short amount of time poached a number of high-profile executives, most prominently Todd Haskell, former group vice president, advertising at The New York Times.
There were an unspecified number of other layoffs as Young is said to be working on an overhaul of the digital division that will include new hires, according to sources. Hearst declined to comment on the layoffs.
Odell edited and wrote for New York magazine’s fashion blog The Cut for four years and then in 2012 left to launch a women’s-interest vertical at Buzzfeed that in July was re-branded as Buzzfeed Fashion. She oversaw a handful of bloggers there and also wrote a fair amount, her editorial sensibility in colorful display in recent posts like “This Fanny Pack For Your Boobs Promises to Get You Through Any Rave” and “The Art of Wearing Adorable Tiny Rings.”
Buzzfeed even threw a party in her honor to celebrate the relaunch in July at Provocateur in New York’s Meatpacking District, but it seems Hearst made her a sweeter offer.
“Amy’s well-respected point of view will drive Cosmo as the site evolves its content,” Young said. Odell will be trading Buzzfeed Fashion’s 7 million monthly uniques for Cosmo’s 12.2 million, according to Hearst.
Chernikoff was with Fashionista, which has some 2 million monthly uniques, for a little more than two and a half years, and she’ll now be in charge of a site with some 3.4 million uniques.
The two editors will shape the sites’ direction to cover “the big stories that matter to our users,” Young said. Those include “young women who care about the worlds of fashion, entertainment, politics, women’s issues and world news.” Odell and Chernikoff start Sept. 16. Odell’s duties will now be handled by Shani Hilton, Buzzfeed’s deputy executive editor.
Sometime after tweeting she was laid off, Akhtar changed her biography on Twitter: “Formerly of Elle.com. Free agent. Hire me, really.”