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Weill Steps In at Critical Time

NEW YORK — Sabina Weill, the new editor of Seventeen, will face an uphill battle at the magazine when she begins on Nov. 18.<br><br>The possibility of bringing in Weill, a former executive editor at Cosmogirl, to succeed Annemarie Iverson was...

NEW YORK — Sabina Weill, the new editor of Seventeen, will face an uphill battle at the magazine when she begins on Nov. 18.

This story first appeared in the November 4, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The possibility of bringing in Weill, a former executive editor at Cosmogirl, to succeed Annemarie Iverson was reported in WWD on Friday, just hours before parent company Primedia confirmed her appointment.

Weill, 32, began her career as an editorial assistant at Seventeen. She became a senior editor at Redbook, before joining Cosmogirl in its nascent stages as the magazine’s executive editor.

Seventeen has had a tough year. For the first six months of 2002, newsstand sales plummeted 21.5 percent as retailers cut part-time jobs that employed teenagers and provided them with disposable income.

Former editor Iverson was fired over the summer.

Meanwhile, the teen pop movement led by Britney Spears and ’NSync seems to have peaked. The latest major music project from a teen star, a kickoff single by ’NSync’s Justin Timberlake, has failed to crack the top 10, despite appearances on the covers of both Seventeen and Teen People.

“These are lean times for the teen pop movement,” said Lori Majewski, the entertainment director of US Weekly and a veteran of YM and Teen People. “You have Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears alienating teenagers with racier images while ’NSync and The Backstreet Boys, the bread-and-butter of the scene, are no longer hot either. All these acts used to guarantee big sellers for teen magazines and they don’t anymore. There are almost no guaranteed big sellers out there now.”

Seventeen’s problems are not limited to its cover stars.

Primedia has been in a state of financial turmoil. The company’s stock has been hammered, translating to budget cuts, layoffs and defections among the company’s magazine staffers who have been retained without decent pay increases. The company has also been furiously unloading assets like Chicago Magazine and The Modern Bride Group in an effort to trim down outstanding debt.

Cosmogirl has had a more upbeat year. For the first six months, the magazine bucked the teen sector’s downward trend, posting a 16.5 percent uptick on newsstands and a 9.2 percent increase in ad pages.