YOUNG MISERY: Gruner + Jahr USA won’t have Christina Kelly to kick around anymore. Kelly, editor in chief of the teen title YM, resigned Friday morning after what witnesses described as a humiliating staff meeting with G+J’s interim chief executive Axel Ganz. Dropping in on a regularly scheduled editorial meeting, Ganz offered a scathing critique of Kelly’s magazine, a source close to YM said, describing its as “not funny” and “not glossy.”
“And he had never told Christina his feelings beforehand,” the source said. “She left that meeting saying ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”
This story first appeared in the February 23, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Reached in her office, Kelly confirmed she had quit of her own accord after Ganz had ripped into her magazine. An interim editor has not yet been named, she said. A G+J spokeswoman said a search for Kelly’s replacement is under way.
Ganz cleaned house last week, sweeping away several key appointments made by former ceo Dan Brewster, who left the company under a cloud last month. Chief marketing officer Cindy Spengler was let go Tuesday when her position was eliminated, and a new circulation chief, Cindy Still, was named the same day.
YM has been the subject of great debate lately among G+J executives who have realized the magazine has become untenable in its current incarnation, sources close to the magazine said. Ad pages have fallen 41 percent through the March issue, according to Mediaweek, as the advertising community continues to punish G+J for inflated newsstand numbers in 2001 and 2002, first reported by WWD a year ago.
G+J executives continue to debate whether the magazine should skew younger or older, and how much lower the magazine’s rate base should be. Newsstand sales fell 5.6 percent in the second half of 2003, to an average of 385,000 copies an issue.
Kelly had largely been kept in the dark about potential changes, the sources said, just as she was kept unaware of the newsstand inflations that were first blamed on then-publisher Laura McEwen before being traced to senior G+J execs during the Rosie O’Donnell trial.
Ironically, Kelly was handed the top job in fall 2001 after her boss, editor in chief Annemarie Iverson, was poached by Primedia to run Seventeen and Teen. The newsstand sales that so impressed Primedia execs to hire her were later to be the ones that G+J had overstated. Iverson was ultimately fired after less than a year on the job. Kelly was executive editor at the time, having arrived from a similar role at Jane (which, like WWD, is published by Fairchild Publications.)