NEW YORK — Condé Nast on Thursday shifted Louis Cona into the publisher’s slot at The New Yorker, wasting no time filling the gap left by the appointment of David Carey to head the company’s new business group.
Cona, vice president and publisher of Vanity Fair, was given the same title at The New Yorker. Alan Katz, publisher of Cargo, replaced Cona at Vanity Fair, said Charles H. Townsend, Condé Nast’s president and chief executive officer. Both appointments are effective the second week of September.
The announcement came a day after Townsend said Carey would be president of the group that is to be built around an as-yet-unnamed business magazine and Web site, with Joanne Lipman, deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, serving as editor in chief.
Cona’s ascendency within the company has been viewed as a foregone conclusion, with insiders saying it was only a matter of which title or titles he would be given and when. Cona joined Vanity Fair in 2001 from In Style, a magazine he helped establish as a force in the advertising community with then-managing editor Martha Nelson. Before arriving at In Style in 1996, he worked at People magazine as an ad division manager and ad rep. He spent 12 years at Time Inc.
“I’ve been blessed working with some geniuses in the business, Graydon [Carter] and now David Remnick. Not too many people can say that,” Cona said. “There’s such a strong team up there [at The New Yorker]. It’s such a talented group. I want to build on what these guys have accomplished.”
Vanity Fair’s business has been soft recently — the magazine slid 11.8 percent on the newsstand in the first half of 2005 and 22.5 percent in the second half of last year, and advertising pages are down year-to-date by 9.3 percent to 1,337.8 pages. But newsstand sales have rebounded this summer (see Memo Pad below), and Vanity Fair is still seen as one of the most important and lucrative titles in the Condé Nast fleet. Cona, with his Time Inc. training and industry track record, is viewed as one of the few publishers who have the business skills to run The New Yorker.
The appointment of Katz to helm Vanity Fair came as more of a surprise to employees within Advance Publications Inc., parent of Condé Nast and Fairchild Publications Inc., which owns WWD.
Before the launch of Cargo, Katz spent 14 years at New York magazine — four of those as publisher.
“I think it’s only a surprise because it’s such a huge vote of confidence,” said a fellow publisher at the company, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “[Katz]’s been handed one of the crown jewels of Condé Nast. He’s competent, capable and he did an arguably good job at New York magazine, but the feeling is he hasn’t been so revolutionary at Cargo.”
Said Cona: “I know Alan not well, but…I think what he did at New York will have great transition into Vanity Fair. The nice thing is we’re all here, we can all help each other.”
Katz dismissed rumblings of trouble at Cargo on Thursday.
“The magazine is working,” he said. “The intent was to be a wonderful guide for men, and they love it and buy right off the pages. Obviously, with my transition from Cargo to Vanity Fair, that really speaks to that question.”
Addressing reports that upper management at Condé Nast has become increasingly involved with Cargo in recent months, Katz said: “Every launch goes through launch phases. With Tom [Wallace] being new to the [editorial director] job, he’s wanted to get to know every magazine better, certainly this one.”
Katz would not comment on how the title, launched in spring 2004, has been doing on the newsstand. The Audit Bureau of Circulations has not released Cargo’s circulation numbers for 2004 or 2005.
“The [audits for the] second half of ’04 and the first half of ’05 are being done concurrently because we’re a launch and because of all the goings-on at ABC,” Katz said. “We’re not supposed to hear final numbers until the middle of September.”
Cargo has had three more issues on sale in 2005 than in 2004, and ad pages are up 18.8 percent to 427.8 pages.
Word within the company has Katz’s replacement at Cargo as possibly Lance Ford, a former Dennis Publishing exec who is president of advertising and publishing at American Media, or Giulio Capua, publisher of Gourmet. If Capua got the job, Marcia Kline, who recently stepped down as publisher of Child during Meredith’s acquisition of Gruner + Jahr women’s magazines, has been mentioned as a potential replacement at Gourmet.
An official announcement on Cargo is anticipated next week.