STEVE FLORIO HOSPITALIZED: Former Condé Nast Publications Inc. chief executive officer Steve Florio has been hospitalized and is seriously ill following a recent heart attack. Florio, 58, has a history of heart problems: he had surgery to replace a faulty valve in 1999 and a second surgery a few years later to correct a manufacturer’s defect on the replacement valve.
Florio retired from Condé Nast in February 2004 and remained under contract with the company as vice chairman until January 2007. Since his retirement, he has served as adjunct professor at New York University, in the entertainment, media and technology program, and is an investor in Tutto Il Giorno, a restaurant in Sag Harbor, N.Y.
This story first appeared in the December 3, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
A spokeswoman for Condé Nast, which also owns WWD, said, “We wish and hope for a good recovery.”
— Irin Carmon
OUT OF THE FRYING PAN?: Had snark choked on its own success, or was it a protest against new media’s page-view-for-pay business model? Whatever the reasons, Choire Sicha and Emily Gould, Gawker’s managing editor and editor, respectively, were sounding distinctly more earnest on Friday afternoon, just after Gould announced on the site that they were quitting. Neither of them had jobs lined up at press time.
“In my dreams I’m going to find a job reporting on fires,” said Sicha. “But I’m a little creaky and old to do that.” He added, “I just feel like, now that everyone sort of operates at the speed we do, who’s actually going to do the stuff that takes some time or some reading?…Everything has become knee-jerk like we are.” In other words, “There can be one TMZ, but if there are going to be eight TMZs, I want out.”
Gould struck a similar note. “Whatever Gawker originally set out to do, it kind of did, and now it just feels over,” she said. “I would love it if it just fell off the face of the earth….I don’t want to say the meanest thing or the most shocking thing possible anymore, because it gets so old and so soul-killing. There is stuff I really care about. I’m not interested in tearing it down as much as describing it.”
Asked for comment, Gawker publisher Nick Denton — for whom Sicha has worked in two stints since 2003 — pointed only to Sicha’s quote in a recent New York magazine story on Gawker: “Not a week goes by I don’t want to quit this job, because staring at New York this way makes me sick,” Sicha told the magazine.
Gould said the pay-for-traffic model both encouraged “pandering” and killed the camaraderie between editors by putting them in direct competition. A former book editor, she said she’d like to start a site about books and literary life, though she has no concrete plans yet. Sicha said he’d tired of management life and couldn’t get excited by Denton’s latest plan for the site to move into social networking.
By the end of the day, Gawker was advertising for a new managing editor, trumpeting its evolving allegiance to mainstream media standards. “Gawker is becoming a larger and more complex operation, and, frankly, a more traditional one. It’s no longer enough to take stories from The New York Times and add a dash of snark. Gawker needs to break and develop more stories….Think of Gawker less as a blog than as a full-blown news site.”
Even in its fluctuations of influence and quality, the site is still a mainstay for bored media folk and hangers-on. Both the departed editors echoed questions raised in that New York magazine piece — the worry that the antiestablishment stance had degenerated to a mere pose, and that in the meantime, mainstream media was sharing more and more of its baser values of scandal and snark. Said Sicha, “Sometimes Gawker’s journalism, sometimes it’s not — and it doesn’t necessarily care about what it is.”
BEST MAN: Best Life is expanding its reach to more fashionable men over 35. The magazine will raise its rate base to 500,000 from 450,000 in January. As publisher Michael Wolfe explained, the half-million mark represents a significant landmark for the title. “It gives you a real stamp of power and legitimacy,” he said. It also means the title surpasses Details in terms of circulation (that magazine’s rate base is 425,000), but is still behind Esquire (700,000) and GQ (850,000). Best Life launched in 2004 with a rate base of 200,000. Meanwhile, the title will continue to deepen its focus on fashion via expanded sections and a change in its publishing calendar. Designer Eric Villency will open the front section of the magazine with style advice every issue, and the fashion section will include more product picks and profiles of designers, as well as their clothes. It will also publish a June-July double issue, as opposed to a July-August issue in previous years, and a stand-alone August issue in 2008. The change pushes forward the magazine’s newsstand date so it can produce a stronger fall fashion preview issue in August. Best Life’s new emphasis on fashion helped boost ad pages 37 percent this year, to 584, with the help of 99 new advertisers primarily in fashion, retail, jewelry and watches.
— Stephanie D. Smith
NEW LOOK: Adam Moss finally figured out what to do with the back page of New York magazine. The slot was reserved for the crossword puzzle for the last two years, but on Monday that will be relocated to make room for a new feature, Artifact. The page will highlight “shards of random or illuminating data” that reflect current city life, Moss writes in his editor’s letter. This week’s first Artifact section includes a map of the number of foreclosures in New York City, but future sections could also include less graphical information, like snippets from a politician’s speech, a menu from a new restaurant, or a thank you card from a celebrity donor to a charity. New York will also rename the listing section formerly known as The Week to Agenda. The magazine already has an e-mail newsletter of the same name, where subscribers receive daily event and culture listings, that launched in the spring.
SAFE LANDINGS: Condé Nast Kremlinologists were eager to draw lines between the closure of House & Garden and the frequency increase of Vogue Living to two times a year — although House & Garden had more than enough woes on its own. And, at the very least, some of the shelter experience at House & Garden won’t go unused at the company, which also owns WWD. Susan Egan, who was national home furnishings director at House & Garden, will now serve in a similar capacity at Vogue Living, working with its new publisher and Vogue associate publisher, Connie Anne Phillips. Another ad-side staffer, Ahu Terzi, has also joined the Vogue family as an account director at Men’s Vogue. On the edit side, three junior staffers formerly at House & Garden have found a home in Vogue’s fashion closet. Former House & Garden staff from editorial and advertising have landed at other Condé Nast titles like Brides, W, Bon Appetit, and Golf Digest.
— I. C.
MONEY MANAGER: Hachette Filipacchi Media pulled an executive from its parent company’s French offices to replace outgoing chief financial officer Antoine de Noyer. The company on Thursday named Philippe Perthuis as the U.S. division’s new senior vice president-chief financial officer. Perthuis was most recently deputy director of finance for Lagardère Active in Paris. Perthuis will take his new position Saturday. Noyer leaves the company after just over a year at his post.