NEW YORK — Hearst Publications did a switcheroo on Wednesday, axing Seventeen editor Sabrina Weill and sending in Atoosa Rubenstein from Cosmogirl to pick up the title.
Rubenstein will be replaced at Cosmogirl by Susan Schulz, the magazine’s number two.
The move confirms a WWD report on May 20 which said Weill would be replaced.
Weill’s short tenure at Seventeen began in November, when it was still owned by Primedia, but she ran into problems almost immediately.
Staffers found her to be imperious, leading to frequent turnover. A cover featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar was Photoshopped to the point where the actress threatened litigation, and newsstand sales continued to deteriorate.
The sale to Hearst also hastened her dismissal. Weill had been hired at Seventeen from Cosmogirl, where she was the executive editor, after Rubenstein rebuffed offers by Primedia. But the relationship between the two editors had already begun to fall apart, and in May, word leaked out that Rubinstein was pushing for her dismissal.
The numbers were all on Rubenstein’s side. Where other teen books seemed preachy and custom edited for advertisers, Cosmogirl brought a saucier and more empowering message to readers.
The response was unequivocal.
In just three years, Cosmogirlreached profitability, the fastest ever for a Hearst title. Newsstand sales — the best barometer of consumer interest — inched past Seventeen in the final six months of 2002, reaching 388,000.
The numbers were all the more impressive because the rest of the category has been suffering. Seventeen, YM and Teen People have all had to lower their rate bases — the total number of readers promised to advertisers — because of lackluster newsstand sales. YM also was caught inflating its newsstand sales and had to return money to advertisers.
For Rubenstein, the challenge is to duplicate her success at Cosmogirl without replicating her previous magazine.
“Cosmogirl,” she said, “is about relationships. It’s part of the Cosmo brand. Seventeen’s heritage is firmly planted in style...and that’s the direction we’re going to move it.”
On Wednesday, Hearst also moved Redbook publisher Jayne Jamison to Seventeen. She replaces publisher Ellen Abramowitz, who was inherited from Primedia and is leaving the company. No replacement for Jamison at Redbook had been named by press time.
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