SULZBERGER, KELLER, MILLER TALK: Unconfirmed reports circulated over the weekend that CIA operative Valerie Plame left the agency Friday, while new details emerged about The New York Times and Time magazine, which were caught up in the federal investigation into her outing.
This week’s issue of The New Yorker, on newsstands today, looks at how Times — in particular, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. — has been affected by the scandal. Among the revelations:
- Judith Miller‘s lawyer Robert Bennett believed Sulzberger had his hand on the wheel, rather than Miller. “I don’t know what advice [Sulzberger] got from his lawyers, but he was very gung ho,” Bennett told The New Yorker. “He was pushing Judy.”
- A copy of executive editor Bill Keller‘s infamous memo, in which he made reference to Miller’s “entanglement” with her source, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was vetted with Sulzberger and the paper’s two managing editors, and no one flagged the sexually loaded description of their relationship.
- Sulzberger was not aware of Maureen Dowd‘s “Woman of Mass Destruction” column until it was printed in the paper.
- Sulzberger and Keller believed Miller’s career at the Times was over, even before she left her jail cell to testify.
- In an effort to show Sulzberger’s clumsiness as a leader, an episode is related in which he opens a luncheon for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by announcing that a bomb-sniffing dog just “threw up in here.”
The New Yorker piece comes after the January issue of Vanity Fair, which provides a thorough account of the Times’ internal investigation, from the perspective of the team of reporters assembled to look into the matter.
Also this past weekend: Time magazine’s Viveca Novak posted a story on Time’s Web site Sunday, about her testimony before special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Novak, who is on a leave of absence from Time, was called before Fitzgerald to discuss her conversations with Karl Rove‘s attorney, Bob Luskin. She inadvertently revealed to Luskin that Rove was Time reporter Matt Cooper‘s source about Plame’s role at the CIA.
— Sara James
This story first appeared in the December 12, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
AND JUSTICE FOR SMALL: TV Guide recently tried to give its sagging circulation a shot in the arm by going from digest size to full size. Now a new magazine is hoping to juice its own sales by making the opposite switch — and moving into the very checkout pockets TV Guide vacated. Justice will be taking over close to 100,000 new front-end racks at 7-11, Albertsons, Kroger and other stores over the next few months, according to editor in chief Randall Lane. The increased exposure will allow the magazine, which covers legal matters from celebrity mug shots to avoiding identity theft, to raise its 2006 rate base to 350,000. According to Lane, Justice was already contemplating a changeover to the smaller format as a means of differentiating itself from the many celebrity weeklies on the newsstand. When TV Guide’s pockets became available, the decision was easy. Lane noted that Justice’s launch issue in June (the only one it has published so far) sold through at a much higher rate at the checkout, about 50 percent, than it did on mainline displays.
In concert with the redesign, Justice is also going monthly. Lane said the magazine’s topical content could call for an even greater frequency eventually. “We’re talking about going biweekly,” he said. “This certainly puts us on that path.”
— Jeff Bercovici
PEACH ON EARTH: It’s a law of media nature: Where there are large numbers of rich people, there will be oversized, glossy magazines to publish pictures of their gatherings. The latest city to get the Gotham/Hamptons/Ocean Drive treatment is Atlanta. Ocean Drive Publishing Group, which already owns magazines in south Florida and Las Vegas, is starting a title called Atlanta Peach. The first issue, which will run 300 pages and have a circulation of 50,000 through a mix of paid and free distribution, will come out in April. Atlanta already has several city publications, including Atlanta Magazine, Seasons, Jezebel and PaperCity (whose founding editor, Elizabeth Schulte Roth, has been hired as editor in chief of Atlanta Peach). But Ocean Drive president Jerry Powers said he does not consider them competition. “They all look like city magazines of the late Eighties, early Nineties,” he said. “They have very little focus on fashion, on celebrity, on trends.”
Powers also said he has no rivalry with Jason Binn, whose Niche Media owns luxury-lifestyle magazines in New York, Long Island, Boston and Washington, D.C. Noting Binn is a shareholder in Ocean Drive, he said, “We’re not competitive. We’re never going to be in the same cities, or anything like that.”
SHADOW CASTING: In addition to viewing U2 videos and episodes of “Desperate Housewives,” you can now watch Linda Wells extolling the merits of lash-extending mascara on a video iPod. Allure’s video podcast extension of its “Allure Backstage” Style channel TV show went live late last week on iTunes. Wells, the magazine’s editor in chief, interviews beauty experts, designers and models and reports on beauty trends from the collections in New York, Milan and Paris.
Mid-month, Allure is also launching a series of audio podcasts it’s dubbing “reality radio” to correspond with the “Total Makeover” feature that appears in the monthly magazine. In those, real women undergoing yearlong, nonsurgical makeovers will talk about their transformations.
— Sara James