Joanna Coles

Like its rivals, Hearst Magazines has been in the process of quietly consolidating its editorial and business staffs in order to cut costs, following a particularly tough year in print advertising.

Known as a tightly run operation, Hearst recently created the “lifestyle group,” a collection of magazines that includes Redbook, Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day. The purpose of that reorganization was, in part, to group jobs so that instead of three beauty editors, for instance, there is just one who works across all the titles.

Good Housekeeping editor in chief Jane Francisco was picked by Hearst executives, including former Cosmopolitan editor in chief and recently promoted chief content officer Joanna Coles, to oversee the lifestyle group. The choice was tension-inducing, according to insiders, as Meredith Rollins, Redbook’s editor in chief, was seen by some as passed over in favor of Francisco.

That aside, the group model isn’t new. Hearst formed the Design Group for its shelter titles in 2012 and in 2014, it grouped Cosmopolitan and Seventeen, which are overseen by Coles’ successor as editor in chief, Michele Promaulayko.

But there’s another layer of grouping under Coles, which gives some insight into her somewhat opaque role as chief content officer. WWD has learned that Leah Wyar, who serves as Cosmopolitan’s and Seventeen’s beauty director, and her counterpoint as fashion director, Aya Kanai, report to Coles, not to Promaulayko.

Coles’ power grab keeps her in the mix and part of the editorial game, which at Hearst now includes the warm glow of the small screen in the form of E!’s upcoming reality show, “So Cosmo,” based on her old magazine.


Promo for "So Cosmo"

Promo for “So Cosmo” 

A spokeswoman from Hearst did not address the reporting specifics but offered: “We have a collaborative model and hubs have long been a part of our strategy. Our business is a mix of strong editors in chief, dedicated teams and a number of hubs that allow our biggest talents to contribute to a number of brands. Hub leaders work very closely with the editors in chief.”

The term “hubbing” is the parlance at Hearst to describe what any discerning journalist who has been asked to do multiple jobs for little or no pay raise knows to be code for cost cutting.

Just ask the staff at Cosmo’s sister publication Harper’s Bazaar, which has yet to replace executive editor Stephen Mooallem, now helming The Village Voice, or executive director Laura Brown, who left last August to be editor in chief of InStyle. Hearst said both roles will be filled, but the title has lost its fair share of employees over the last year. During the summer, Bazaar’s executive accessories director Sam Broekema also left for InStyle, and on the business side, Bazaar recently lost Caitlin Weiskopf, its executive director for marketing and brand development for the magazine and e-commerce site ShopBazaar.

In the meantime, Sergio Kletnoy, Coles’ former assistant who has held a handful of editorial roles at various Hearst titles, now serves as Bazaar’s entertainment director. Kletnoy is picking up some of the slack on the celebrity front left from Brown’s departure, Hearst said.

Although Hearst has always been cost-conscious — over the summer the company said it was in the midst of a “hiring chill” — there have been broader budget-cutting mandates across the various titles as of late. Editors have complained that they have smaller budgets to hire freelancers and are forced to write stories themselves, for instance. The pullback has caused some to wonder if the “hub” model will take shape at the fashion titles, namely at Bazaar, Elle and Marie Claire. There’s also a broader sense that more changes are coming.