SPROUTING MORE SHOOTS: Though Rodale folded Organic Style in 2005, fans of the magazine will be vindicated both by the green media groundswell and the fact that some of its former senior staffers are reviving the model — this time online. Under the aegis of the Washington Post Co., the green consumer site Sprig launched Sunday to coincide with Earth Day. Sprig marks the first Washington Post Co. launch, digital or otherwise, in recent memory, and its first product-oriented bid for the female consumer. It also provides clues as to what former Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker’s newly minted job of vice president and editor in chief of New Ventures has entailed thus far.
Headed by Jeanie Pyun, who was the last editor in chief of Organic Style, Sprig will cover green lifestyle, including beauty, fashion and food, but with an eye to accessibility. “Our mantra is, it’s much better to get 95 percent of the population to get 5 percent more green, rather than 5 percent become 95 percent more green,” said Pyun, who has been joined by former Organic Style beauty editor Suzanne Murray. Rather than competing with green portals like Treehugger.com, which the launch presentation terms “condescending to ‘green lite’ [readers],” or with print magazines’ now-annual green issues (“one month per year; not experts,” the presentation said), the site’s backers say they hope to go head to head with CondéNet properties Style.com and Epicurious. Indeed, Goli Sheikholeslami, Sprig’s vice president and general manager, was general manager at CondéNet until 2002. (WWD and CondéNet are both owned by Condé Nast Publications).
The move into the fashion and beauty space, originally pitched to chief executive officer Donald Graham by former Rodale women’s group president Sara Levinson, is also clearly a bid for some of that consumer-focused advertising. “The audience will be in some ways complementary to our existing audience, in that Slate, the Washington Post, and Newsweek have high-income, well-educated readers with heavy Web use,” said Whitaker. “But there’s the opportunity to branch out not only with something specifically focused towards women, but also something more vertical. It didn’t make a lot of sense for New Ventures to start another news site.”
Whitaker said he and fellow former ASME president Cyndi Stivers, who is also quietly launching a green media venture, had agreed to stay away from the topic in conversation. Still, he said, “online competition doesn’t work in quite the same way as we’re used to thinking of it in print….Sites that are not identical can link to each other.”
Sprig will have video content, a shopping-focused database and news updates five times daily. Downtown design firm Helicopter, which recently shook up the design at Jane, is behind its visuals. — Irin Carmon
THE BIG O: Abs architect David Zinczenko will bring his expertise on love and relationships to “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” The editor in chief of Men’s Health on Thursday in Chicago taped a segment on relationships for an upcoming episode. The taping is his first appearance on the show; no word on whether he gave Winfrey recipes from his new book, “The Abs Diet for Women,” in between commercial breaks. Zinczenko fit in the trip to Chicago in between regular appearances on the “Today” show and penning his weekly blog for Yahoo.com, which has encouraged readers to post more than 38,000 comments since it appeared in November. — Stephanie D. Smith
THE PASSION OF ARMANI: Giorgio Armani last week criticized H&M for its links with well-known designers, saying the much-hyped but short-lived collections treated customers “like schmucks.” Lauren Goldstein Crowe of condenastportfolio.com took WWD to task for quoting the designer using the slang word, saying on her newly launched blog, “Where to begin? First of all, whenever I interviewed Armani, there’s been an interpreter present, so I’m wondering what ‘schmuck’ is in Italian. Or did he suddenly break into English? Or should I say Yiddish?” Well, as those who have interviewed Armani know, he only speaks Italian and French. And he actually used the saucy Italian expletive “coglioni,” which WWD’s Italian-born staffers in its Milan office politely translated as “schmucks” because it is, after all, a family newspaper.
HOT NAMES: Us Weekly will dole out its annual Hot Hollywood awards next week to Tinseltown’s best-dressed celebrities and their stylists, designers and makeup artists. The magazine will recognize Rose McGowan, Ali Larter and David Arquette, among others, and name Jennifer Lopez Style Icon of the Year. Of the laborers, Marchesa, whose dresses have draped the lithe frames of most of young Hollywood, will be named Designer of the Year, while Cristina Ehrlich and Estee Stanley, who have dressed Jessica Biel and Nicole Richie, will be named Stylists of the Year. Jennifer Meyer, wife of actor Tobey Maguire, won Jewelry Designer of the Year. The Hot Hollywood Issue hits newsstands April 25; Us Weekly will host an event for the winners at Sugar in Los Angeles the next day. — S.D.S.
MORE TO THE WEB: What happens to music and pop-culture writers whose former mainstay outlets have fallen apart? They blog. Luckily for Melissa Maerz (formerly of Spin, which has struggled in recent years with ownership and personnel issues) and Nick Catucci (formerly of The Village Voice; ditto), their new blogs will actually earn them a paycheck — and will be under the old media brand of New York magazine. Vulture, a blog launching today under the editorship of Maerz and freelancer Dan Kois, will “take lowbrow culture seriously and treat highbrow culture frivolously,” according to a New York spokeswoman, in a formulation likely to confound that magazine’s approval matrix. Catucci, who is already an online editor at New York, will head Agenda, a listings-focused email newsletter. The magazine’s efforts online have thus far met with critical praise since launching early last fall. — I.C.