SOFT LANDING: For a company with such a messy history, Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing has managed to pull off a surprisingly tidy denouement. Saturday’s announcement that Morningstar owner Joe Mansueto is buying Fast Company and Inc. ensures that both magazines will continue to exist, at least in the near term. That’s especially good news for the staff of Fast Company, who feared a mass layoff after learning that all the other bidders reportedly planned to fold the title.
Not everybody is pleased with the way the G+J saga turned out, though. The heads of several major publishing companies, including Hearst Magazines and Hachette Filipacchi Media, are said to be put out at the way the sale of G+J’s other titles — Family Circle, Fitness, Parents and Child — was handled, feeling they should have had a chance to bid on them. Hachette chief executive officer Jack Kliger confirmed as much to WWD, adding that he had in fact contacted Bertelsmann about buying its G+J USA unit earlier in the year, only to be told the company was not for sale. Bertelsmann executives negotiated the $350 million sale to Meredith Corp. in secret, without betraying their intention to anyone — including G+J ceo Russell Denson. “One would assume they could’ve gotten more if they’d had some competitive bidding,” said Kliger.
Just how in-the-dark Bertelsmann kept Denson is clear from his last-minute hire of Carolyn Bekkedahl to be group publisher. According to a G+J source, Denson was perplexed by the difficulty he encountered trying to get Bertelsmann to approve the hire. After much foot-dragging, corporate brass finally signed off on her appointment in early May, days before reaching a deal with Meredith. In the end, Bekkedahl only had to go into work once. Not a bad way to earn a severance check.
BAILEY-ING OUT: Another week, another high-level editor handing in her notice at Harper’s Bazaar. This time it’s photography director Cary Estes Leitzes, who is leaving to start a company that will “connect contemporary artists with commercial ventures,” according to a spokeswoman for the magazine. Leitzes plans to stay on through mid-August in order to complete work on the September fashion issue.
Leitzes is the fourth director in less than three months to announce her resignation from Bazaar. Market director Amanda Ross moved to Los Angeles with her fiance, beauty director Kerry Diamond went to Lancome as head of public relations and bookings director Preston Davis elected to “pursue other opportunities.” There have also been a number of lower-level exits. A source who knows several of the departures said they felt worn down by the demands of editor in chief Glenda Bailey: “She’s constantly changing her mind and asking people to do things in an impossibly short amount of time.” But the Bazaar spokeswoman, noting the magazine’s ad page growth (up 8.7 percent through June, according to Media Industry Newsletter), insisted all was well. “While we’re always sorry to see long-standing staff members go, we’re excited about the great contributions new members bring to the table.”