HONORABLE MENTIONS: Former Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger gives Rupert Murdoch props for accomplishing his dream of becoming “the world’s most influential newspaper publisher,” but calls the mogul’s purchase of the Journal “his greatest test as a publisher.” In his assessment of Murdoch for the Time 100 list of this year’s most influential people, out Friday, Steiger foreshadows repercussions to Murdoch’s success, writing: “There is, to be sure, a darker side to Murdoch’s influence and legacy. He has at times subordinated the journalism operations he controls to further his own business interests, undermining their credibility if not their long-term profitability.” Steiger doesn’t write of recent Murdoch-mandated editorial changes at the Journal, nor of the recent departure of managing editor Marcus Brauchli, Steiger’s successor (presumably because all that happened past the issue’s deadline).
The fashion folks on this year’s list include French Vogue editor in chief Carine Roitfeld and artist Takashi Murakami, whose tie-ups with Louis Vuitton have sold millions. Former Dior designer Hedi Slimane sings Roitfeld praises in the issue, writing: “She has an innate ability to mix street culture and society, always avoiding the caricatures that can define both worlds and always recognizing the mix of both worlds as the only catalyst of energy and creativity.” Time’s annual gathering of the 100 honorees will be held May 8 at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
— Stephanie D. Smith
GREEN, BUT NOT TOTALLY: Tom Brokaw kicked off his moderation of a Vanity Fair green panel Monday night with “a couple of announcements. There will be no flashes of green underpants, nor will we be photographed with silk sheets.” (It was unclear whether Brokaw wholly intended the triple entendre, being at a green panel held by a magazine under siege for racy photos of Miley Cyrus, of whom photos earlier surfaced flashing a lime green bra.) The panel included Google’s Eric Schmidt, PayPal founder and green entrepreneur Elon Musk, architect William McDonough and Sustainable Bronx’s Majora Carter. That Carter was the only woman and the only person of color on the panel didn’t escape her attention. “I’m here to represent the ‘green the ghetto’ contingent,” she cracked. Schmidt, speaking of Google’s green efforts — including enlisting McDonough to build more environmentally friendly offices — insisted: “It’s not that hard” to make adjustments that have serious impact on sustainability.
This story first appeared in the April 30, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“When you work with Google, maybe it’s easy,” Brokaw replied.
Later, he pressed Schmidt to reconcile his and his fellow Google executives’ use of a retrofitted Boeing 767 plane with environmental concerns. Schmidt’s answer mostly amounted to a change of subject.
— Irin Carmon
EW FINDS ITS MAN: Brian Anstey was named Entertainment Weekly’s design director. Anstey succeeds Geraldine Hessler, who left earlier this month. Managing editor Rick Tetzeli sent a memo to the staff late Wednesday night, describing Anstey as “a strong leader and a great collaborator, and he’s got a bucket of editorial ideas and a deep passion for this magazine. Plus, at [The University of] Iowa he designed a poster of Diablo Cody for the college radio station, so he must have always been destined for this gig!” Anstey, who was previously an art director at the weekly magazine, has served as acting design director since Hessler’s departure.
FLAT IS OK: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. is in the market for “appropriate acquisitions,” Susan Lyne, president and chief executive officer, said Tuesday — although she didn’t say what or in what sector. On a conference call with analysts as the company reported first-quarter results, Lyne also talked about the publishing division, which had essentially flat revenues in the quarter compared with the prior year — $40.8 million versus $40.6 million. But excluding the shuttered Blueprint from the picture, the increase would have been 4 percent. Operating income rose to $1.7 million from $1.3 million and the company predicts ad revenues will finish the second quarter up in the midsingle digits. Like its competitors, the company is hoping to further diversify its ad categories to minimize the impact of a significant downturn in any one sector. Wenda Harris Millard, president, media, pointed to beauty, travel, technology and consumer electronics and pet supplies as “growing sectors” for the balance of the year. She added that there is very limited visibility past June with advertising since the marketing community is making deals later than usual.
Overall the company’s revenues increased approximately 2 percent to $67.8 million, from $66.7 million. After deducting for production, selling, distribution and other costs, the firm had an overall loss with net losses in the quarter totaling $4.2 million. This compares with net losses of $11.9 million in the first quarter of last year, with the reduction a result of higher ad sales at several of its magazines.
But if MSLO’s magazines did OK, the McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. at BusinessWeek’s global edition were down 19.4 percent to approximately 429 pages from 532 pages last year, and broadcasting revenue of $23.7 million was basically flat. Revenues in the business-to-business group, which includes BusinessWeek and Aviation Week, rose 3.5 percent to $219.7 million.
— Amy Wicks