In late February, the magazine media industry buzzed about its latest closure: More magazine. Despite a recent redesign and lowered rate base, More parent company Meredith Corp. cited the recession of the late Aughts, and its inability to continue to support the magazine, which was founded in 1997.
The closure of the women’s lifestyle title left another well-known editor in chief, Lesley Jane Seymour, out of a job after eight years at the helm. Since then, Seymour has kept a relatively low profile, but like other editors who fell prey to the volatility of today’s media environment, she is now sharing her thoughts.
In a published post on LinkedIn entitled: “The Joys of Losing Your Job in the Digital Age,” Seymour explained that she was “prepared” when More folded. Ironically, the editor credited the first time she was fired from a big job as a buffer to ease her grief over More.
“In April 2006, I lost my job as editor in chief of Marie Claire magazine. The day I exited, I carried a box of TV makeup (stashed in my desk drawer for last-minute television interviews) and a farewell album of Polaroids hastily assembled by my shocked and grieving staff,” Seymour wrote. “Truth was, I had been expecting to be fired. My bully of a boss had a single tool hiding in her Chanel pocket: a cost-cutting knife which she wielded like Dexter at a vigilante reunion — gouging my budget by a million here, a million there until she slashed a vital artery — a flashy French fashion photographer who drew salable celebrities to the Marie Claire cover; when I learned he’d started working for the competition, I knew my butt was headed the way of the Zoot suit.” (For those wondering, Seymour no doubt is referring to former Hearst Magazines president Cathie Black as her “bully of a boss.” The French photographer was Patrick Demarchelier, who decamped for Condé Nast).
She continued that “few friends” reached out, and that she began freelancing for More and The New York Times. One day, she was contacted by an old source, the director of an orphanage in Thailand whom she met through a story she did at Marie Claire. These were the early days of the web, and the anecdote, she noted, demonstrates how the Internet is a tool to connect with others.
With the digital age in full swing, Seymour said when More “came to a crashing halt” she “snapped a photo of the last hours of the staff and posted it” to her personal Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
“Hundreds of friends, competitors and readers jumped in to say how sad and angry they were that a magazine of such intelligence and quality was being shuttered — leaving them adrift in a sea of Kardashians and Premarin ads,” she said. “Instead of leaving me feeling cut off, the folding of this iconic brand in this age of digital connection feels more like I’m emerging from a carapace to be embraced by an incredibly nurturing and giving community.”
Although Seymour doesn’t address the irony that the digital age was a central actor to her magazine’s demise, she does note that the Internet and social media helped her move forward without that “crippling devastation and depression” she experienced post-Marie Claire.
The point of all this, she notes is that “even if you have a job you love and have been there for 22 years, carry a reinvention plan in your back pocket….Work that social media! Work your connections every day. Don’t wait till you need to use them. The good news is that with preparation, losing your job today no longer means losing your identity: it can mean a new start — for a new you. “
While there’s no official word on what Seymour is up to, her LinkedIn page names her chief executive officer of her namesake company.