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WEST COAST WORRIES: First Condé Nast begins cutting back on trips and hiring, and now Hearst Magazines is trying to trim its cost structure as the publishing industry retrenches in a shrinking economy. Insiders are buzzing that company president Cathie Black is going “floor by floor” at the Hearst Tower to trim costs — and staff positions — where possible. One title already affected is Harper’s Bazaar, which closed its Los Angeles and San Francisco sales offices on Tuesday and hired an outside firm to handle ad sales on the West Coast. The magazine also trimmed positions in its merchandising division last week. Though it was unclear how many staffers Harper’s Bazaar employed on the West Coast, a voice mail of Lisa Marie Costa, the magazine’s southwest director, said she no longer worked at the company. “Harper’s Bazaar has chosen to hire a firm to manage sales on the West Coast. We think it’s a smart decision — given that we’ve had growth in paging and share,” said a Harper’s Bazaar spokeswoman, adding that no sales jobs in New York were affected by the move.
Bazaar has fared better than most of its competition throughout the year. According to Media Industry Newsletter, ad page growth has been flat through November, totaling 1,859 pages. The magazine got a boost from publishing a special fashion issue, Runway Report, in September. But the steady page numbers aren’t protecting the title from cuts in the current economic environment. According to insiders, the magazine supposedly has a target to cut $1 million in expenses from its budget.
This story first appeared in the October 23, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Insiders are also buzzing about additional job cuts across more titles at Hearst, which is already reeling from the closure of Cosmogirl earlier this month. Speculation includes cutbacks at O, The Oprah Magazine, with some believing management may fold its home spin-off, O at Home.
— Stephanie D. Smith
FEMALE TO THE MAXIMUM: The original Gawker blogger, former Mediabistro.com editor in chief and current Fortune contributor Elizabeth Spiers has a new project in mind: an online women’s magazine that she’s calling a “Maxim for women.” It’s in early development and she’s only having informal conversations with possible backers, she told WWD, but the idea has been percolating since Spiers was running Dead Horse Media, which publishes the blogs Fashionista and Dealbreaker. Her idea is to “cater to the female id and the female ego….It’ll be a little less afraid of provocation than a lot of print magazines are. You can do that on the Web.” Spiers said her magazine would be less urban and would skew older than Jezebel, with which her idea is often compared.
In the meantime, Spiers is helping Flavorpill launch a new culture blog called flavorwire.com, going live Monday. The idea is to draw readers to a Web site separate from Flavorpill’s listings e-mails and to cover arts and entertainment on a national scale beyond the local focus of the e-mail newsletters. Caroline Stanley, formerly of Gen Art, will take over as editor after Spiers’ consulting stint ends.
— Irin Carmon
VANITY FARE: For their first official task as international editors for Vanity Fair’s European editions, Ingrid Sischy and Sandra Brant hosted a post-Chanel party dinner on Tuesday night at — where else? — The Waverly Inn. Sischy, who is also a contributing editor for Vanity Fair in the U.S., described the scene as reminiscent of a dinner party in Spain, as guests didn’t take their seats until around 11 p.m. Those who attended, including Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Olivier Theyskens, Kate Bosworth, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jeff Koons, Julian Schnabel, the Scissor Sisters, Blake Lively, Penn Badgley, Rufus Wainwright, Bruce Weber, Franca Sozzani and Carine Roitfeld, were served autumn soup, chicken pot pie, steak and salmon. Meanwhile, Karl Lagerfeld was treated to a separate menu of tuna tartare (a triple order), Diet Coke, grilled salmon and grilled pineapple — a special request the kitchen made just for the designer.
— Amy Wicks
POLITICS AND MEDIA: With less than two weeks until election day, former presidential candidates Gary Hart and Bob Kerrey sat down with The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta on Wednesday to analyze press coverage of the presidential election and talk about how the Web has changed the entire process. The breakfast event was sponsored by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
Because of the Internet, Kerrey said he hasn’t watched an evening news program in eight years, adding that the only reason he reads magazines in print is because he’s 65, not 25. “This is the first global campaign, because of technology,” he said. “As a consumer, it’s easier for me to get content.” And he doesn’t care who reports the news, as long as it’s easily accessible. When some traditional news outlets shied away from the John Edwards scandal earlier this year, he got all of his updates online. “What do I care if The New York Times doesn’t write it,” he said.
Hart added, “everybody is a journalist — that’s the new media.”
The two former politicos agreed that Sen. Barack Obama has a tremendous advertising advantage, thanks to the money he’s raised for his campaign, but Kerrey believes Obama’s decision to shun public funding and take $150 million in September alone hasn’t been reported enough, adding that, if McCain was in Obama’s shoes, it would be a different story in the press. “Would [Maureen] Dowd talk about it in one of her columns?” Kerrey asked.