PRESSING AHEAD: Bernard Arnault might feel that no press is bad press, but journalists at Paris’ business daily La Tribune don’t share the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton boss’ opinion. La Tribune, which Arnault owns (he wants to sell it and buy rival Paris paper Les Echos from Britain’s Pearson Group plc), devoted its entire front page Monday to the headline: “Mr. Arnault, let’s divorce with dignity.” Inside, in a double-page spread addressed to readers, the loss-making paper demanded Arnault give it a say in the process of finding a buyer so as to guarantee job security and editorial independence. La Tribune employs some 300 people. Candidates to buy La Tribune were asked by Lazard, which is handling the sale, to make definitive offers by Monday evening. Acrimony over Arnault’s divestment has been flying since he said he would dump the paper in favor of Les Echos, which Pearson Group, owner of the Financial Times, is selling to concentrate on its core title.
— Robert Murphy
REGROUPING: Time Inc. keeps shaking up its magazine operations as it seeks the magic formula. On Monday, the publisher grouped Entertainment Weekly and its Web site, ew.com, into a cluster with People, people.com, People en Español and Style Watch called the Time Inc. Entertainment Group. Paul Caine, group publisher of The People Group, was promoted to president of the division. Dave Morris, president and publisher of EW, will leave the company after 21 years. Coincidentally, EW and People’s public relations and finance teams have been working together for more than a year.
Speculation about changes at EW have swirled as the magazine has faced challenges in terms of advertising and circulation. Pages through September fell 9.1 percent from the same period last year, and 7.6 percent in the first three quarters of 2006 compared with the prior year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Total paid and verified circulation fell 1.2 percent to 1.8 million for the first six months of 2007 (newsstand sales, about 2 percent of EW’s total circulation, fell 19.5 percent during the period), according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Under Caine, People’s pages are flat at 2,712. Morris’ replacement, who will report to Caine, is expected to be named shortly.
— Stephanie D. Smith
This story first appeared in the October 23, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
EATING THEIR CAKE: As food bloggers increasingly break news and help determine fates in the ultracompetitive restaurant world, they’re starting to be subject to some of the same scrutiny as traditional media. Panelists at Gourmet Magazine’s fifth annual Gourmet Institute panel “Eat the Web: Blogging’s Effect on the Food World,” weren’t afraid to take shots at each other, either, even if there was a spirit of uneasy camaraderie. Ben Leventhal’s Eater.com, a Gawker-esque blog on restaurant gossip and news, “pursues restaurants in a way lawyers used to chase ambulances,” said Ed Levine of Serious Eats. On Eater, chefs can find out they’re fired even before their bosses tell them. (Leventhal was on the panel and said he had simply taken advantage of how fast things move on the Web.)
Several panelists questioned the ethics of former Restaurant Girl blogger Danyelle Freeman, now the New York Daily News’ food critic, who is both recognizable and said to have accepted free meals. But Levine argued this was no different from the past: “For 50 or more years, food writers have been feeding at the freebie trough, including the biggest names — none at Gourmet or Condé Nast [Publications], of course,” he added, laughing.” I’ve even had a free recession special at Gray’s Papaya….This didn’t start with the blogosphere.”
Moderator and Gourmet editor in chief Ruth Reichl said the panelists were “all doing something newspapers used to do, or should be doing.” Of food criticism in general, she said, “We’re virtually living in the middle of a revolution.” But that doesn’t mean food bloggers are turning up their noses at mainstream media jobs. When asked if blogging is a viable employment choice, Tyler Colman of DrVino.com replied, “I find that there’s very little money to be made in blogging,” and clarified that he really is a doctor and does not just “play one” on the Web. Said Levine, “You have to have the intent of global domination or the investors won’t give you money.”
— Jacinta Green
TOO CHEAP TO BUY IT: Men like a good eye cream or a little Crème de la Mer as much as women — they just don’t want to buy them, instead preferring to steal their wives’ products. Or so claims Men’s Vogue, which in an article in the November issue hitting newsstands today (with Denzel Washington on the cover), has men talking to Amanda Brooks, perhaps at the impending ridicule of their colleagues, about their primping habits. For example, Frédéric Fekkai admits to using his wife Shirin von Wulffen’s glossing cream, which just so happens to be from his own line. So why use a product he specifically designed for his female clients? “I like to get the same movement and shine,” he explains. “It’s far better than having it be dull and stiff.” Hopefully, he isn’t referring to his own men’s line, which includes hair gel and grooming clay. And presumably he can get the glossing cream for free.
SPOT ON DRESS: Apparently GQ believes men need all the help they can get dressing themselves. Today, the magazine is launching GQ Rules, a 30-day online program where GQ editors Glenn O’Brien, Jim Moore and Adam Rapoport will provide style tips via written anecdotes and short video clips. And there’s an incentive for men to log on: sweepstakes. GQ will give away daily prizes from Clinique Men and Bluefly.com, while one guy can win a trip for two to New York, a $25,000 wardrobe from Corneliani, and an appearance in the magazine’s pages. Men can still appear on the Web site if they do not win the grand prize; a photo upload feature allows users to upload their own pictures showing how they’ve applied the style tips. The program will run through the end of the year.