SHIFTING FORTUNES: Fortune managing editor Eric Pooley is still recovering from losing senior writer Katrina Brooker to Portfolio last week, but he has narrowly avoided a potentially more damaging loss to his masthead. Bethany McLean, the star editor at large who was the first reporter at a national publication to raise doubts about Enron and later co-wrote a book about the scandal, “The Smartest Guys in the Room,” has turned down offers from Portfolio and The New York Times business desk, and accepted a counter offer from Fortune on Wednesday, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. McLean made the decision while on vacation; a Fortune spokeswoman confirmed only that she was away.
Still, Fortune has been undergoing a talent drain. Portfolio poached Dan Roth from the magazine back in March. And Joe Nocera, who was close to McLean and edited her book, left Fortune for the Times just as Pooley was named managing editor in early 2005.
Sources close to Pooley said his initial management style was at least partly to blame for the cluster of defections in the past year and a half. Early on, the new managing editor developed a reputation among the staff as a micromanager, according to several colleagues. “Fortune is full of very experienced grownups who aren’t used to that,” said one former editor at the magazine.
However, since then, Pooley seems to have adopted a looser stance and a more accessible, open-door policy. “He had the good fortune of being managed by [Time Inc. editor in chief] John Huey, who is not shy about making suggestions on improvements,” said one observer.
“Pooley is kind of in a bad spot,” said another source. “Advertising is down. Magazines aren’t selling. I’m sure Huey is breathing down his neck.” The source then added, “Pooley is a good editor. He’s very smart. He has a good sense of what’s going to sell, I think. He’s taken some risks, putting Michelle Wie on the cover, adding more Hollywood stories and doing some cool stuff about the housing market, which all makes the magazine feel younger.”
Still, amid all the departures, Pooley has been able to attract new talent to the magazine, like senior writer Marcia Vickers, who came over from Business Week last year.
— Sara James
STUDIO CITY: Gearing up for its second issue, Blueprint has found its second top editor. Sarah Humphreys is leaving Real Simple, where she’s been special projects director since 2004, to take over the new women’s lifestyle title, introduced in April by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She replaces Rebecca Thuss, who oversaw the launch, but resigned just before the debut issue arrived on newsstands. While Thuss was credited as editor, Humphreys’ title is actually editor in chief. “Rebecca came from a different professional background, out of styling,” said Margaret Roach, MSLO’s editorial director, explaining the title upgrade. “Sarah comes from a journalism background. She’s more a literal editor in the strict sense of that word.”
Humphreys wasn’t the only Real Simple veteran MSLO sized up for the job. As WWD reported in May, executive editor James Ireland Baker was also approached for it, as was Elizabeth Mayhew, former director of editorial development. But Roach said she had spoken to more than 20 people about the position and had not focused on Real Simple’s talent pool. “It’s not like we interviewed the entire staff,” she said.
Humphreys, meanwhile, said she was excited to work at a magazine that reflected her interests. “I live the life. I’m 31 and I live in a tiny studio in the Village,” she said. But surely that will change now that she’s an editor in chief, right? “Actually, I’m moving from one studio to a smaller one.”
— Jeff Bercovici