ROOTED OUT AT THE SOURCE: Crusades are generally bloody affairs, and the staff of The Source has discovered theirs is no different. The magazine’s February issue — which features Eminem and a CD containing his racist raps from a decade ago — is still on the newsstand, but the backlash from advertisers has already cost some of them jobs.
The Source has laid off around a dozen low-level employees in recent weeks, several sources said, as the magazine stares down a potential advertiser revolt. Ad pages in the February issue — which co-founder David Mays has touted for months as the magazine’s most important ever — are down 39.8 percent, according to Media Industry Newsletter, and are down 31.6 percent two months into the year.
Clothing label Phat Farm has decided to pull its advertising altogether, one source said, joining Interscope Records (Eminem’s record label). “Russell [Simmons of Phat Fashions, now part of Kellwood] wants to take the high road — we have no comment,” said a Simmons spokeswoman, referring to the company’s founder and the rap impresario who also started the seminal rap label Def Jam. Today, Def Jam and Interscope are corporate siblings under the Universal Music umbrella. Simmons publicly defended Eminem’s public apology — and was promptly taken to the woodshed for it by The Source in the February issue.
A spokeswoman for the magazine wrote in an e-mail that no one had pulled out, including Phat Farm, and that the upcoming March issue would be “chock full of ad pages.” As for the layoffs, she wrote, “What company doesn’t have layoffs?”
The Eminem issue was the culmination of the feud between the rapper and The Source co-founders Mays and Raymond Scott (a.k.a., the rapper “Benzino”). After the magazine obtained tapes of the racist songs, Mays called a press conference in November and announced the songs would be made available on a CD bundled with February’s 500,000 newsstand copies. Eminem’s lawyers intervened, and in the end, a judge ruled The Source could use just 22 seconds of the songs under “fair use” provisions.
The issue’s feature package includes a lengthy exposé of Eminem that takes itself as seriously as a Seymour Hersh investigation, along with a fascinating flow chart that accuses Interscope of being in league with MTV, Clear Channel and Wal-Mart (among others) to destroy hip-hop as we know it. Now why would any advertiser take offense at that? — Greg Lindsay
IT’S WHETHER YOU WIN OR LOSE: Real Simple never fails to confound. This week, the magazine is filing more rosy circulation numbers with the Audit Bureau of Circulations — and more staffers are headed out the door.
In the latest, new managing editor Kristin Von Ogtrop informed the staff that Jane Kirby, staff editor (food); home editor Christine Camean Garson, and assistant editor Danielle Davis from the beauty department were leaving the magazine.
“You know how these things are,” joked one insider. “They’re leaving to pursue other opportunities.”
The magazine also hired Heart & Soul’s Corynne Corbett as its beauty and wellness director, a new position.
Meanwhile, Real Simple is reporting a surge of 30 percent in overall readership to the ABC, a spokeswoman said. That brings the total number of readers to more than 1.5 million.
The title increased 10 percent on newsstand and 40 percent in subscriptions, bringing the newsstand total to about 370,000. The numbers are particularly impressive because the magazine does not use celebrities or sensationalist coverlines to sell at the checkout. Vanity Fair [which, like WWD, is owned by Advance Magazine Group], by comparison, sells about 400,000 copies on newsstand and In Touch is at around 500,000.
“Every month [Real Simple] makes more money and every month it loses more people,” quipped the source. — Jacob Bernstein