Them, one of Condé Nast’s newest editorial projects, has gained a new editor, while Pitchfork, one of its last acquisitions, is losing its founder.
Whembley Sewell has been named executive editor of the online platform, which caters to a young, queer audience. Sewell replaces Phillip Picardi, the founding editor of Them and former executive editor of Teen Vogue who left those roles last year to take up the editor in chief position at a problem-laden Out magazine.
Sewell is an internal hire, having worked as a channel manager at Teen Vogue for the last year, where she largely led content and emerging platform strategy, along with audience development. In her new position, she will oversee all of Them’s editorial content and brand experiences.
“Them has grown tremendously since we launched the platform in 2017, and Whembley’s distinct voice and passionate take on issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community make her a natural fit to lead the brand forward,” Anna Wintour, Condé’s artistic director and longtime Vogue editor, wrote in a statement. “Her positive energy and warmth will be instrumental in growing Them’s audience while championing the diverse voices that make the platform so extraordinary.”
While the platform is still small, Condé said Them’s social media growth has been significant, rising 364 percent year-over-year, with average monthly unique views of 739,000 for the six months ended December. It also seems that the site’s overhead is low, as it uses a number of freelancers for content and has a small staff otherwise, so maintaining the platform and a connection to a young, niche audience gives another opportunity for marketing and data collection as Condé continues to restructure its business.
Pam Drucker Mann, Condé’s chief revenue and marketing officer, said in the next year Them will focus on video, live events and branded content in order to grow.
“Our partners are always looking to reach Millennials in innovative ways, and Them is perfectly positioned to deliver authentic storytelling that resonates with an engaged and influential audience,” Drucker Mann added.
As for Sewell, who — since graduating college in 2015 — worked at Refinery 29 in programming and Hearst in social media, she’s “excited” to be joining Them.
“There are so many untapped points of view that aren’t represented in media and Them’s mission to give a platform to these voices is more important than ever.”’
Meanwhile Pitchfork, which Condé acquired in 2015 (its most recent acquisition as the company has been in selling mode recently), is losing its founder Ryan Schreiber, who started the music site in 1996. Until recently, Schreiber has served as the site’s longtime editor in chief, but Puja Patel took up that position in September. He was expected to remain as an adviser formally as founder, but has instead left the brand altogether.
“Although this decision was not an easy one, the time feels right, and I’m excited to open a new chapter in my life and explore fresh challenges,” Schreiber wrote in a statement.
Despite the ongoing market and financial challenges Condé is facing, or perhaps because of them, Schreiber added that he is “beyond confident in [Pitchfork’s] future and know I am leaving it in the right hands.”
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