ROLLING THE DICE: Sen. John McCain has long been a darling of the press, and it’s safe to say he picked up a few new fans at the American Magazine Conference that kicked off Sunday evening in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. In a town hall discussion Monday morning, McCain half-jokingly referred to the media as “my base” and promised to hold biweekly press conferences should he become president. As for whether he’ll seek that job, he said he is undecided. “I want to be president. I know very few of my colleagues who don’t,” he said. “The question is, do I want to run for president? I’d also like to be emperor.” (Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker came away with a different impression after dining with McCain Sunday night. “He’s running,” Whitaker said. “He’s making all the moves.”)
But what really impressed conference goers was McCain’s marathon session at the hotel casino the previous evening. While most attendees were content to watch the gambling and talk about the two hot topics of conversation — official news that Norman Pearlstine would be stepping down as editor in chief of Time Inc. on Jan. 1 and The New York Times’ weekend coverage of reporter Judith Miller‘s role in the Valerie Plame leak case — Jonathan Feit and Igor Finkel, the founders of Citizen Culture magazine, got a quick tutorial in craps from the Arizona senator. They played alongside him as he amassed a sizable pile of chips, then lost all but $200 of it. Still, “he left happy,” Finkel said.
One table over, that other Plamegate reporter, Matt Cooper of Time magazine, was playing blackjack. “I don’t know why money earned through dumb luck is so much more satisfying than money earned through hard work,” he said later. Both, presumably, are more satisfying than losing $100, which was Cooper’s fate.
But Cooper was still in good spirits Monday afternoon when his boss, Time managing editor Jim Kelly, interviewed him on his role in the Plame affair. Of Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor who nearly had Cooper jailed, he said: “He’s the kind of guy who, if he weren’t trying to put reporters in jail, the press would love. I think he could use a little more prosecutorial discretion, but I’m biased.” Cooper passed on his chance to criticize Miller, who did log jail time for refusing to cooperate with Fitzgerald. Wonkette editor Ana Marie Cox was not so circumspect when asked about Miller during a panel discussion. “As I’ve said before, it’s OK to be in bed with your source, but then you have to f— him,” she said.
— Jeff Bercovici
NEW REGIME: Amid all the boozing and schmoozing, there was some actual industry news coming out of the American Magazine Conference. Hachette Filipacchi Media’s chief executive officer, Jack Kliger, formally took over from Reader’s Digest ceo Tom Ryder as chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America. In his address, Kliger outlined a vision for the most nettlesome issue facing publishers today: how to fix the circulation end of the business. He called for improving the timeliness of audience measurement so that magazines can calibrate their ad rates on audience size, as television and radio do, rather than on circulation guarantees. “I’ve asked many people, ‘How can you do advertising ROI [return on investment] based on circulation metrics?’ and I have yet to get a satisfying answer,” he told WWD. “To me, it’s a disconnect. We are, in a way, segregated by our metrics.”
Speaking of segregation, the American Society of Magazine Editors also unveiled new, pared-down guidelines for keeping advertising from corrupting editorial content. ASME president and Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker said the guidelines, which used to be five pages long, are now down to two. “I’d like to think we took what resembled the Talmud and whittled it down to the Ten Commandments.”
MOVING HOUSE: To go by industry speculation, Condé Nast has been on the verge of shutting down House & Garden for several years now. That the magazine keeps producing new issues every month has, of course, helped to dampen such talk. Then came last week’s news that House & Garden will, sometime next spring, move out of Condé Nast headquarters at 4 Times Square and into one of the company’s three other Manhattan locations, at 750 Third Avenue. That building is currently home to Details and the Fairchild Bridal Group, with Jane and W (as well as WWD) moving there later this year. All are part of Fairchild Publications, one of seven divisions under the Condé Nast Publications umbrella.
House & Garden’s publisher, Joseph Lagani, said the move was motivated by space needs: The magazine has outgrown its offices on the Times Square building’s eighth floor. “We don’t have enough room,” he said. “On an ad hoc basis, we’ve taken over a whole bunch of the floor that we don’t really have. [Even so], we’re bursting at the gills.” At the same time, the company’s newest launches, Men’s Vogue and the as-yet-unnamed business magazine, need office space of their own.
Condé Nast Publications has said that it will henceforth shuffle magazines between its various locations without regard to which of its operational units they fall into. Next up to move from Times Square: The Golf Digest Publications will move to Third Avenue next spring, while CondéNet is slated to move to 1166 Sixth Avenue sometime in the first quarter.
NOTHING BUT NET: Freeing up space for Men’s Vogue and the new business group isn’t the only reason CondéNet will be moving out of 4 Times Square and into new offices next year. The Web division of WWD’s parent, Condé Nast Publications, is undergoing its own growth spurt and needs more space. As reported, a teen site is in development at CondéNet, though it most likely will be a stand-alone similar to sister sites Epicurious.com and Concierge.com and not part of Style.com, as earlier accounts suggested. Now comes word that CondéNet also is exploring the home market, for a shelter division of Style.com that would make its debut sometime after the teen site’s launch, according to company insiders.
In the meantime, the division is bulking up its management staff by moving toward having editors in chief and publishers for all of its Web sites. Last week, Dirk Standen, deputy editor of CondéNet, was promoted to editor in chief of Style.com and Men.style.com, the respective online homes of Vogue and W and Details and GQ, while Marcia Kline, most recently Child magazine’s publisher, was named publisher of both sites. Standen will report to Jamie Pallot, editorial director of CondéNet, and Kline will report to senior vice president and managing director of the Style sites, Dee Salomon.
— Sara James