Dan Wakeford is going on three months as the new editor in chief of People magazine and starting to make the masthead his own.
First in is Wendy Naugle as his new deputy editor, a role Wakeford held before being promoted in April to succeed Jess Cagle as editor in chief. Naugle is coming over from Condé Nast’s Glamour, where she’s worked for more than 18 years, the last decade as its executive editor. Once Condé’s most lucrative magazine with its position between beauty, fashion and lifestyle advertising for women, Glamour was taken all-digital at the start of the year, a plan first reported by WWD. Since then, the outlet has shifted resources and staff to digital roles, as would be expected, and amid broader directional changes at Condé on the whole.
“She’s a master of magazine craft, but also brand extensions and digital,” Wakeford said.
He added that with Naugle’s hire, he’s hoping to bring “slightly more depth” to People’s features, but “without losing the fun” that the magazine is known for.
“I’m a strong believer in [the idea that] for magazines to thrive you need to provide something in-depth,” Wakeford said.
As for Naugle, she said, “To help tell the stories that inspire and shape our culture is an incredible opportunity.”
In addition to overseeing feature content at People — where Naugle starts July 9, reporting directly to Wakeford as his second in command — she will oversee new editorial offerings like an upcoming launch of People Causes (focused on charities) as well as the newsroom overall, working alongside People digital editor Zoe Ruderman. She will also work as the central liaison between editorial and business, which is growing with a number of spinoffs, like a syndicated TV news show planned for next year. People was launched under Time Inc., which Meredith Corp. acquired in early 2018, arguably for the sole purpose of owning the hugely popular magazine. Meredith claims that the title reaches half of all American women, with circulation of the weekly print issue holding steady at 3.4 million and online traffic for May hitting a record of 76.4 million uniques.
“The beauty of People is we’re like 10 magazines in one, we cover so many angles,” Wakeford said. “And we’re really in a league of our own — our competition is stars’ own social media, but Hollywood knows that we’re expert storytellers reaching other audiences.”
In addition to Naugle’s hiring, Wakeford has made some promotions and title changes as well. Kate Coyne will now be editorial director for entertainment, overseeing all coverage related to the beat while continuing to lead tentpoles like “The Beautiful” issue and “Sexiset Man Alive.” She’s been with People for 11 years, mainly covering entertainment as an executive editor and will now lead a new franchise of first person essays by celebrities and notables coming to the magazine. Coyne will report directly to Naugle after she starts.
Cindy Sanz is also getting a bump from executive editor to editorial director. Sanz has been at People for 30 years and in her new role will lead news and human interest coverage, everything from crime and politics to royals and pets, along with oversight of new spinoff People Health and the magazine’s crime TV series “People Magazine Investigates.” She will also report to Naugle.
Another People veteran of 21 years, Lizz Leonard, has been promoted to West Coast executive editor, where she will lead the California bureau. Although largely focused on celebrity, People is headquartered in New York City, so Leonard will be working closely with Coyne “to manage our relationships in Hollywood,” Wakeford wrote in a memo. Leonard will report to Wakeford.
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