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NEEDLEMAN’S NEW GIG: She finally made up her mind. Weeks of speculation that Deborah Needleman, the editor in chief of WSJ., the Wall Street Journal’s glossy style magazine, would decamp for T: The New York Times Style Magazine finally came to a head Thursday morning.
The Times was finally able to officially welcome Needleman aboard as Sally Singer’s successor with a gleeful announcement.
This story first appeared in the September 28, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Deborah is a creative and innovative editor with an impeccable sense of style and design. As we look to expand and extend T and continue to evolve it for our loyal and sophisticated New York Times audience, we will rely on Deborah’s broad range of experience and creative energy,” said Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times.
Abramson had made an offer to Needleman in early September, but an announcement was held up over ongoing negotiations with the two papers. At one point, Hearst Corp. had also courted Needleman for a position at one of its magazines.
The Times is eager for its new star to grace its sixth floor, where T and the Sunday Magazine share office space. Needleman, who was representing WSJ. at the Milan collections, starts Monday.
The reaction at the Journal was more muted — while taking a shot at its rival.
“This is a moment to bid adieu to a great magazine editor, Deborah Needleman, who is off to grayer pastures,” Journal managing editor Robert Thomson said in a memo to staff.
Publisher Anthony Cenname told WWD that Needleman’s departure presents advertisers with an opportunity to “get to know another editor.”
“The advertising has always been about the audience, not the editor,” he said, somewhat overlooking the journal’s dogged attempts to keep Needleman at the paper.
“The industry you’re reaching, fashion, might be interested in who’s the editor. Most advertisers care about audience,” he said. “There are many advertisers, like Louis Vuitton and Chanel, that were with us before Deborah and before myself.”
He said WSJ. would still be competitive with T. “It’s apples to oranges,” he said. “She’s an editor. She’s not an ad sales person.” Needleman was not available for comment.
Still, the loss is a significant one.
The Journal was bullish on a magazine the two of them — they both joined in 2010 — had helped flourish. Frequency will increase next year to 11 times a year and to a monthly basis in 2014.
Ad pages are also up — 10 percent through September. The men’s style issue, out this weekend, has 58 pages, still not as many as T, which had about 81 pages in its recent travel issue, according to Media Industry Newsletter. Needleman had also created the weekend Journal’s “Off Duty” section.
A spokeswoman for the Journal said the search was already under way for a successor. Needleman had already closed the upcoming November issue, which features the magazine’s signature event, the Innovator of the Year Awards, and was working on December. It’s not clear if the December issue will bear her editor’s letter.
Needleman is expected to bring some of her WSJ. staff to T, though as of Thursday, none had resigned. A spokeswoman for the Times said “it is far too early to speculate” who else might join from the Journal.
Deborah Needleman will bring to T a very different sensibility than the one championed by her predecessor, Sally Singer. Perkier. Glitzier. Remarkably free of photo spreads by war correspondents. Conveniently, the two editors have recent issues out. WSJ.’s men’s style is out this weekend, and T’s travel issue was tucked inside the Times last weekend. Let’s compare:
Choice quote from editor’s letter
Needleman: “Wow, that’s a lot of men!”
Singer: “When one is tired of redwoods, one is tired of life.”
WSJ.: 58, up 11 percent from 2011
T: 81.16, up 12 percent from 2011
WSJ.: Relative unknown Joel Edgerton
T: TV’s Claire Danes
Featured refugees from Condé Nast:
WSJ.: James Truman, profiled for producing a music album.
T: Joan Juliet Buck, who contributed a travel piece.
Affected hipster endorsement
WSJ.: French bespoke motorcycles
T: Brooklyn moonshine, made by New York magazine’s David Haskell
WSJ.: Rolex watch, $36,850
T: Salvatore Ferragamo beauty travel case, $31,500
WSJ.: Four New York woodworkers sporting banker’s suits. “Isn’t a suit that looks as good among power tools as PowerPoint the smartest design of all?”
T: Danes vamping through the streets of Tel Aviv. “Every element bristles with intelligence, intrigue and unexpected beauty.”