A NEW TOUCH AT OK: It wasn’t long after Mark Pasetsky was named managing editor of OK magazine in October 2009 that insiders started to predict who would succeed him. It’s unclear if this is from personal issues with Pasetsky or simply due to the magazine’s roller-coaster newsstand sales (the title’s much-hyped cover featuring Hilary Duff only sold 290,000 copies on newsstands, said one source).
On Monday, Pasetsky’s reign at OK officially ended and Richard Spencer, former editor of In Touch Weekly, stepped in. Spencer famously stormed out of In Touch in January, as the magazine was on deadline, a departure that was said to be related to his compensation. A spokesman for OK said Spencer was not able to comment on his new job Monday, as he is already busy closing his first issue. One insider noted that Spencer’s noncompete from Bauer Publishing, publisher of In Touch, ended on Friday.
Pasetsky, who hasn’t been spotted in the office for over a week, remains on staff and is in talks over his potential new role. One source said Pasetsky’s removal from the top spot was unavoidable, as the last four weeks of sales have been in the low 200,000 range. However, another source claimed last week’s issue sold 450,000 copies. According to Audit Bureau of Circulations, OK was down 9.5 percent on the newsstand for the first half of the year, to an average of 360,180, but it wasn’t the only celebrity weekly to decline in single copy sales.
Meanwhile, another weekly reported an editor change on Monday. Time Out New York is on the hunt for a new editor in chief to succeed Michael Freidson, who is departing for an opportunity in London. Freidson told WWD he couldn’t talk about it yet but he’ll remain in the media business. — Amy Wicks
SELF WORTH: Incoming MPA chairman Jack Griffin gave the audience at this year’s American Magazine Conference a shot in the arm on Monday morning — even if it at times seemed like he was whistling in the wind. “This is a great time to be in the magazine industry and an even better time to tell people just that,” the Time Inc. chief executive officer told the crowd at Chicago’s Fairmont hotel. Griffin’s opening remarks were designed to both remind industry insiders of their businesses’ value, and to get them to proselytize about it a little. (He made the point about spreading the news at least one other time.) It was more evidence that the MPA — which as of Monday officially became The Association of Magazine Media, and, like KFC and NPR before it, cast off the actual words behind its abbreviation — is looking to both reinvent itself and find a little of its old swagger in the face of adversity and uncertainty. It’s also looking to make sure potential partners in the e-reader and tablet business know the worth of magazines.
“We’re going to promote assiduously the value of our content,” Griffin added.
It wasn’t all digital strategy on Monday. Later in the morning, Harper’s Bazaar took home the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Cover of the Year award for its December 2009 “Twilight”-themed subscribers’ package shot by Mark Seliger. It was the first time the overall winner came out of the Best Vampire category (It was also the first year for that category.) That was no huge surprise given that readers voted for the winner through Amazon.com. “I knew it had a good chance of winning because, for the last year or so, it’s been on the bulletin board of my 17-year-old daughter, who is a huge fan of Robert Pattinson,” said Hearst Magazines president David Carey after accepting the award.
Desirée Rogers, fresh off a New York Times Sunday Styles profile, spoke on the future of Johnson Publishing Co., where she landed as ceo over the summer. Though a few jokes about her stint as White House social secretary didn’t quite land (“You can laugh — I had a couple zingers in there,” she admonished the crowd), she made a pitch for the broader relevance of the house’s titles. “These books — Ebony and Jet — are not just for African-Americans…[they are] for anyone who wants to understand this country better,” she said.
And where the day started with the case for optimism, it ended with an at-times sardonic keynote from Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategy and innovation officer at digital advertising firm Vivaki. The futurist won the biggest laughs of the proceedings when he explained that he hated change even though it is his job.
“When people tell you change is good for you, it’s only good for you if your life sucks, and, if change is good [for your business], it’s only good if you business sucks,” he deadpanned. — Matthew Lynch
FASHION INTELLECTUALS: New Yorker writer Judith Thurman touched on the more cerebral side of fashion on Saturday afternoon during a panel at the magazine’s annual three-day festival, where she read from Yeats to explain the origins of the phrase Rag & Bone and asked Naeem Khan to deconstruct the semiotics of a dress. Khan and Rag & Bone founders David Neville and Marcus Wainwright shared the stage with Maria Cornejo and Phillip Lim, who had a more literal take on the intersection of fashion and literature. “The worst thing to do is to put your heart and soul into something and find it on the sale rack. That’s tragedy,” Lim said. Cornejo won the intellectuals in the house over after an audience member asked the panel if they’d rather dress Michelle Obama or Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.“I think Michelle Obama any day,” Cornejo said. “I’ve met Carla Bruni, and there’s not much up there.”