Troy Young, president of Hearst Magazines, has been removed from the company.
Hearst chief executive officer Steve Swartz sent a brief memo to Hearst staff Thursday evening confirming Young’s end as president.
“Troy Young and I have agreed that it is in the best interest of all of us that he resign his position as president of Hearst Magazines, effective immediately,” Swartz wrote in the one sentence note to staff.
He made no mention of a search for a successor, nor did he name one. A spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on the subject.
Although allowed to technically resign, talk of Young’s end at Hearst has been the topic of conversation at least since last week within the company, as the New York Times was about to run a story on accusations of inappropriate comments and behavior toward mainly female colleagues. Sources also noted that his contract was up in August.
But Swartz didn’t see fit to wait that long. Young’s resignation came the same day The Times ran in print the story detailing criticism of his tenure, with staffers recounting incidents of him making inappropriate sexual comments and other poor behavior.
Incidents alleged in The Times include Young telling a female colleague during a work holiday party to insert her fingers into herself before a date, emailing pornography to former Esquire editor Jay Fielden (who complained but was himself eventually forced out, in part due to mutual dislike between him and Young, sources noted at the time), and making lewd comments about sex toys in the Cosmopolitan office.
Young sent his own note to staff earlier on Thursday, before his resignation, that attempted some amount of damage control by trying to position The Times story as one that “misrepresented the culture we have built at Hearst Magazines.” He also seemed to want to explain himself and a “realization” he’s had, writing: “Work is so personal for me. I always bring my full self — for better or for worse — balancing being both demanding and compassionate, and being both real and professional. In doing so, I have lacked awareness that, in my role, is critical.”
His forced resignation came several hours after that note went out.
Talk of Young’s inappropriate behavior started almost as soon as he was promoted and started interfacing more with editorial staff throughout Hearst. It was dismissed by some higher-ups in the company as Young having “rough edges” that needed to be smoothed, experience as a more high-profile executive he needed to gain.
That was not the perception of staff who were on the receiving end of his behavior and comments.
Young has been with Hearst since 2013 and was promoted in summer 2018 to the role of president, seen as the publisher’s tool toward a digital makeover, along with Kate Young, whom he worked with before being promoted and brought up alongside him as chief content officer. She replaced Joanna Coles. Young and Lewis first worked together at Say Media, an ad tech firm, where Young was also president before coming to Hearst.
And the duo has remade much of the Hearst magazine business and its executive structure over the last two years. Editors have been let go and replaced, including Fielden and Glenda Bailey, (who spent 20 years leading Harper’s Bazaar and was just replaced by Samira Nasr), as have long-time publishers across a number of titles.
But it’s unclear how successful that digital transition has been. Advertising from print, which has been sidelined under Young, is still the largest part of Hearst’s revenue.
And there have been some more public issues with the magazines division. Last year, contributors to Esquire claimed publicly that an investigative story into the movie director Bryan Singer and his allegedly extensive sexual misconduct and abuse was “killed” just before publication. One writer of the piece, which ended up being quickly picked up for publication by The Atlantic, pointed the finger for the decision directly at Young and Lewis.
There is also the more recent and widespread union effort by magazine staffers at Hearst. This is said to have peeved Swartz in particular. David Carey, who had been magazines president for a decade before being replaced by Young, was brought back into the fold not long after staffers went public with their unionization.