According to insiders, Phillips, who worked at Rodale for 13 years, was let go.
Phillips, who became vice president and editor in chief in November 2012, will for the time being be succeeded by executive editor Bill Stump.
Rodale circulated a memo Friday thanking Phillips for his service, noting that he “ushered in successful integrated programs, such as ‘The Ultimate Men’s Health Guy,’” as well as “significantly” expanding the glossy’s digital and social footprint. He also brought the company a General Excellence Award at the 2015 National Magazine Awards.
The editor’s last day is today. Rumor has it that many at the company have been unhappy, and as a result, there has been a steady stream of departures (mixed with layoffs) since Lafavore returned to the company in the fall.
They include executive editor Matt Marion, vice president and editor Peter Moore, senior art director Mike Schnaidt, senior editors Bill Paynter and Clint Carter, deputy art director Grace Martinez and managing editor John McCarthy.
Lafavore, who served as editor in chief of Men’s Health from 1988 to 2000, was brought back to Rodale to work with the brands, and in particular, to tinker with Men’s Health.
But his management style has rubbed many of the staff the wrong way. He has been dismissive of editors’ ideas, sources noted, and the changes he implemented came across as dated. One of Lafavore’s ideas included limiting the use of celebrities on covers, which some speculated may be also budget related.
In fact, morale is so low that an anonymous employee mailed out a hard copy of a letter to top brass at Rodale in recent weeks. The letter was sent to Rodale herself, and copied to the executive team at the company, including the legal department, human resources and all editors in chief and publishers, decrying Lafavore.
A company spokeswoman cited its policy of not commenting on personnel matters.
A source who read the letter described the multipage missive to be very “matter-of-fact,” and not vindictive, but more meant to illuminate the problem to the ceo. Insiders said that the letter prompted Rodale to have a meeting with Lafavore, but that no discernible action was taken.
But back to Phillips, who joined Men’s Health in 2003, first serving as executive editor and editor of MensHealth.com. His exit follows a sizable round of layoffs of about 40 jobs this year at the company, which also publishes Women’s Health, Prevention and Runner’s World, among others. Rodale also decided to move Prevention to an advertising-free model, which, sources noted, allows the company to slash business-side staffing, and thus significantly reduce operating costs.