NEW YORK — In a move that came as no surprise to those in the industry, Primedia on Wednesday let go of Annemarie Iverson, editor in chief of Seventeen and editorial director of the company’s teen magazine unit. Until a new editor is found, Iverson’s job will be filled by Elizabeth Crow, the company’s new overall editorial director.
The announcement came only 11 months after Iverson was tapped for the top post at the magazine and just after Crow began her new job last week. Primedia said Wednesday it was eliminating Iverson’s position as editorial director of the teen unit.
Iverson was hired as Seventeen’s editor in chief in September 2001 on the strength of her stint as the editor in chief of rival YM. While YM had been doing poorly prior to Iverson, she helped turn the magazine into the newsstand leader, beating out the longtime champ, Seventeen.
But luring Iverson over to Primedia did not reverse Seventeen’s trend. For the first six months of 2002, newsstand sales of the magazine plummeted 21.5 percent as readers began to lose interest in the kinds of young pop stars (Britney Spears and ’NSync) that the teen magazines covered. For the same period, YM was down on newsstands (26.8 percent), as was Teen People (11.4 percent).
Iverson’s problems at Seventeen were not limited to circulation woes either: Primedia has been in financial turmoil; there were rumors her magazine was being sold, and staff morale degenerated. Seventeen’s creative consultant Shawn Young resigned in the spring and, in the last four months, the magazine also lost its executive managing editor, its two deputy editors, the fashion market editor, the accessories editor, the associate fashion editor and its designer.
While Iverson’s departure had been predicted for weeks, it did not go smoothly. Crow had to do two sets of meetings with the Seventeen staff on Wednesday because the first announcement of the departures of Iverson and executive editor Douglas Perlman occurred during lunchtime, when many people were out of the office. Making matters worse, the company also cryptically informed the staff that one other person would be let go, but declined to reveal their identity, beyond saying that “she” was not present or reachable. The statement set off a firestorm of speculation in the Seventeen offices as to who it might be, although many thought the most likely candidate to get the axe was fashion director Regina Teplitsky.
A company’s spokesman declined comment, beyond saying that “there is one other person with whom the company has not spoken; we cannot comment on their identity until we’ve done that.”
“The whole thing was done in perfect Primedia fashion,” said one Seventeen source. “They decided to make the announcement to the staff while everyone was out at lunch. And to say that one other person is getting fired [without having spoken to her]. How impeccably coordinated.”
Primedia’s stock finished the day at $1.29, a drop of 17 cents, or 11.6 percent, from the day before.