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NO WORDS: The third issue of Portfolio will arrive on newsstands later this week with one thing missing — an editor’s letter from Joanne Lipman. Though Lipman penned letters in the first two issues of the Condé Nast business title, she’s opted not to include one for the foreseeable future. “The first two letters were to introduce the magazine,” said a Portfolio spokeswoman. “For now, there will not be an editor’s letter.” However, the spokeswoman insisted, the option is open to bring it back.
Some who received early copies of the October issue thought it strange Lipman opted not to include a letter, especially since she’s a highly visible branding tool for the magazine. And for a new title, the letter is where an editor can deepen his or her relationship with a growing audience. “An ed’s note really helps a young magazine to establish the tone and the sensibility that the magazine is presenting,” said Stephen Perrine, editor in chief of Best Life.
That said, consumers outside of media observers and New York generally don’t read them as closely. “I bet if you did any research, the media and paparazzi would be much more aware of the editor’s letter than someone in Detroit or Texas,” said Martin S. Walker, a magazine consultant. “Their ‘celebritude’ is much more within the industry, and certainly within the fashion industry.”
Not every business magazine runs an editor’s letter. Fortune’s managing editor, Andy Serwer, has run one more frequently than in years past since he took over last October. BusinessWeek’s Stephen Adler runs them on occasion; The Economist does not. But, though Portfolio’s competitors are inconsistent with letters, most Condé Nast editors take the time to pen at least a few graphs to readers — Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair editor in chief, sometimes takes three pages.
Still, outside observers thought Lipman’s decision wasn’t that surprising. “The ed’s note is generally the most poorly read page in the magazine. It should be. If you’re doing something else that’s getting less attention than the magazine, that page has to go. Somebody’s got to bat ninth. The editor’s note is that position,” said Perrine. — Stephanie D. Smith
This story first appeared in the September 18, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
SHORT STINT: Bauer Publishing on Monday said In Touch editor Richard Spencer has been given additional oversight to edit sister publication Life & Style, whose current editor, Mark Pasetsky, will become a consultant to Bauer. Pasetsky in November was transferred into the editor in chief position from a business side role within the company and had a tough transition during his tenure. Though circulation for Life & Style grew 6.8 percent in the first half of this year, to 753,092, Pasetsky was said to have a rocky relationship with staffers. Meanwhile, In Touch under Spencer has grown into a 1.2 million-circulation competitor to more established celebrity titles Us Weekly and People: Through June, In Touch’s circulation has grown 10.2 percent. — S.D.S.
REWRITING HISTORY: The New York Times Magazine on Sunday ran an ultraflattering profile of billionaire diamond-magnate Lev Leviev, a 51-year-old Uzbekistan-born Israeli immigrant who prides himself on his vertical operation in owning diamond mines in addition to polishing and cutting stones, his philanthropy (he aspires to the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates) and his diverse and thriving businesses, from gas stations to 7-Eleven franchises. Leviev is due to open a store for his ultraexpensive jewelry brand on Madison Avenue next month.
But the six-page Times feature omitted a key fact about Leviev. The tycoon, who has close ties to the Russian government and started in the diamond industry as a teenager, has tinkered with diamond jewelry before. He had an investment in Vivid Collection, a diamond brand with a selection not unlike Leviev’s — such as an 83.9-carat white and pink diamond necklace and an average price of $400,000. Vivid was dissolved after it was accused of bribing diamond graders from the Gemological Institute of America. The case is in the hands of authorities, according to a spokeswoman from the GIA, and some of Vivid’s inventory has even been incorporated into the Leviev lot.
In an e-mail to WWD last month, Leviev described his interest in Vivid as “negligible,” and said that, to his knowledge, the cased is closed. Those affiliated with the debacle aren’t legally permitted to discuss it, and one of Vivid’s principals is said to be in hiding.
— Sophia Chabbott
TO THE RESCUE: The well-coiffed Denis Leary criticizes everyone and everything as the star of the FX drama series “Rescue Me,” but he might get some of his own back after the October issue of GQ hits newsstands. The sharp-tongued comedian, along with actors Michael Lombardi and Steven Pasquale, appears in a special section inside the magazine for Matrix Men that tells readers how men can save themselves from bad hair days. These, a GQ spokesman offered without a hint of irony, can be “just as tough as a bad day in the firehouse.” Alongside a perfectly coiffed photo of Leary, the ad reads: “Now, wrapping up the season and preparing for fall, they’ve called on Matrix Men celebrity stylist Diana Schmidtke to rescue their hairstyles from hours under firefighters’ helmets.” One can only hope that it isn’t too late. — Amy Wicks
ANOTHER COMPETITOR FOR THOSE LUXURY AD DOLLARS: ForbesLife Executive Woman, a new lifestyle magazine that arrived in homes on Saturday (polybagged with Forbes), was created for the female hedge fund manager, high-powered lawyer or senior-level executive who is looking for a “different kind of luxury lifestyle magazine,” said editor in chief Catherine Sabino. For its first issue, 125,000 copies were sent out, and next year, it will publish quarterly. “It’s about a success level, not an age range,” she added. The cover features Mary Callahan Erdoes, the chief executive officer of J.P. Morgan Private Bank, and inside, there are pieces on Thia Breen, the president of Estée Lauder Worldwide, as well as a look at the challenges of making partner, and also having a life, inside Goldman Sachs. On the ad side, a spokeswoman said Paul Stuart and Brioni, which formerly only placed ads aimed at men in ForbesLife, have placed ads targeted at women in the first issue. — A.W.
GIVING BACK: Seventeen vice president-publisher Jayne Jamison went public with news of her battle against breast cancer in last year’s Vows column of The New York Times. Since then, Jamison has gone into remission, and joined the cancer organization Look Good…Feel Better, which provides seminars on makeup and appearance so women can look their best. Next month, her magazine will give back to the cause — Seventeen will include a makeover of a mother with breast cancer and her daughter done by makeup artist Sonia Kashuk, who is also a breast cancer survivor. Today, the magazine will launch breast cancer charity e-cards at seventeen.com/breastcancer. The cards will carry different messages, from the importance of self-breast examinations to remembering loved ones affected by the disease. Seventeen will make a donation to Look Good…Feel Better for each card sent. Meanwhile, Jamison talks about her cancer treatment, her wedding and working with Look Good…Feel Better in a blog on the group’s Web site. — S.D.S.