Just call him the Butcher Boy. On Nov. 1, just weeks after becoming the editor of The New Republic , Peter Beinart, 28, fired someone: senior editor Jacob Heilbrunn.
Mr. Heilbrunn is older than Mr. Beinart–he’s 34–and was known as the “liberal hawk” of the New Republic staff, according to one of his friends. (This apparently meant that he was liberal on domestic issues but wrote about foreign policy from an anti-isolationist perspective.)
Mr. Beinart described Mr. Heilbrunn’s departure as “voluntary and mutual,” but wouldn’t comment on why. When asked about whether he’d done any other hiring, he said, “I hired an assistant.” When reached at his office at The New Republic , Mr. Heilbrunn said he was “contemplating” what he would do next.
For the last few years, Mr. Heilbrunn has been one of the weekly’s main writers on foreign policy issues. But, according to another Washington journalist who knew him, he’d lost his most-favored-young-man status with New Republic owner Martin Peretz and literary editor Leon Wieseltier earlier this year. Mr. Heilbrunn was hired as an associate editor under Michael Kelly, apparently at their behest. New Republic watchers said his ejection was also their idea.
On Oct. 18, a report surfaced that Mr. Beinart had killed a piece by a freelancer on Bill Bradley’s Senate record. The move raised suspicion at the magazine, owned by the pro-Al Gore Martin Peretz, who also holds the titles chairman and editor in chief of The New Republic .
“Clearly, a fair and unbiased analysis of Bill Bradley’s Senate career by someone who doesn’t have a preference in the Democratic Presidential race does not belong in Peter Beinart’s New Republic ,” said Jake Tapper, the author of the piece on Mr. Bradley, in an interview with The Washington Post .
Mr. Beinart, who attacked Mr. Bradley in the pages of The New Republic before Mr. Peretz made him editor, said he just wanted to keep political writing in-house.
Susan Casey, the former creative director of Outside magazine who’d been nicknamed “Lady Macbeth” by some of her staff, has been hired by Time Inc.’s editor in chief, Norman Pearlstine. She’ll serve on his special squad of editors-at-large. She joins seven other people, including former Life managing editor Dan Okrent (the original Time Inc. “editor at large”), investigative reporting duo James Steele and Donald Barlett, deep thinker Roger Rosenblatt and former Vibe editor Danyel Smith on the Pearlstine SWAT team.
Ms. Casey’s first gig will be helping to launch eCompany Unlimited , a print and Web magazine about the Internet. It’s going to be based in San Francisco.
Ms. Casey left Outside on April 1, after the owner of the magazine refused to let her spend what she wanted to launch Women Outside , for which she had created a test issue. “To me, that represented my future,” said Ms. Casey. “When that was taken away, I had to get out as quickly as possible.”
“She was not your average art director; she functioned as much in an edit capacity,” said one editor who worked with her at Outside . “Everyone here knew she had a burning ambition to edit a magazine.”
That ambition, together with the fact that she was dating Outside editor Mark Bryant at the time, caused some friction among the Outside staff. She and Mr. Bryant left Outside at the same time.
“I’ve never seen design as something that you do in a vacuum,” she said of her combined interests in editorial and art direction. “I don’t see them as being separate.”
Journalists at Bruce Wasserstein-owned American Lawyer Media were surprised to be ordered, in an internal memo on Oct. 28, to no longer talk to other reporters. The e-mailed memo, sent from A.L.M. chief executive William Pollak to editors of the company’s publications, which include various regional legal newspapers as well as The American Lawyer and The Daily Deal , started out battening down the hatches: “I want to be very clear about American Lawyer Media’s policy with respect to inquiries from the outside press,” it began. “No one is authorized, under any circumstances, to speak directly with reporters about our company without first discussing the matter with Melique Jones, our director of corporate communications.” The memo went on to note, “Related the above, you should know that in recent days Fortune magazine has been working on a story concerning The Daily Deal and A.L.M. Should you or members of your staff receive calls from these reporters, please refer them back to Melique.”
“I guess the reason that it changed was that we didn’t always have a communications director here at American Lawyer Media,” said Ms. Jones, who arrived about six months ago. She said, “There’s no sinister reason for my being hired,” but chalked it up to the company growing, which includes the launch in September of Mr. Wasserstein’s expensive new baby, The Daily Deal . “Because our company is financed by publicly traded debt,” Ms. Jones said, “there are certain rules that we have to adhere to governing the release of information concerning the company.”
Not that reporters are necessarily running scared. “I didn’t see it. I probably forgot about it immediately,” said one journalist at The Daily Deal .
But still, as an American Lawyer Media employee put it, “If Brill were still running things, there wouldn’t be a memo like this. Instead, he would just announce: ‘There’s some asshole from Fortune doing a piece on us. You can talk to him, but you’ll be misquoted because they do a hatchet job on everything.’”
In any case, there wasn’t much to the Fortune article, which was short and made all the obvious points (“… but is this niche large enough to sustain a daily? And does Wall Street really need another financial pub?”).
It comes out in the Nov. 22 issue, which closed the day after the memo came out. Angela Key, the writer of the piece, said, “I wasn’t trying to talk to reporters at all.”
When asked what the penalty would be visited on American Lawyer Media’s employees who talked, Ms. Jones said, “What kind of penalty would that be? No, there’s no penalty. It’s just a matter of policy.”
Mickey Kaus, 48-year-old establishment journalist, who punched in at Harvard, The New Republic , Harper’s , The Washington Monthly , Slate and Newsweek , decided he didn’t need to be hemmed in by a staff job anymore. He wanted to go into business for himself, taking his opinions directly to the reading public, and so he went and put up a Web site. It’s called Kausfiles.com, from which he lashes out at regularly employed journalists like Joe Klein and Bernard Weinraub, and generally tries to call attention to himself and what he has to say. Which is pretty typical Web behavior. It’s also the dream of a lot of writers–No editors! No deadlines! Unfettered self-expression! But Mr. Kaus eventually found out that he couldn’t pay his bills floating around in cyberspace by himself and, as of Oct. 28, he hooked back up with his old friend, Slate editor Michael Kinsley, and sold Slate rights to post his column for 24 hours before it can appear on his own site.
Readers of Kausfiles.com might be forgiven for thinking that it already was a part of Slate because, well, there’s a Slate ad on top of the Kausfiles page, and its design mimics Slate ‘s. Mr. Kaus said that Slate didn’t pay for the ad; he put it up for free “to make it look professional.”
Mr. Kaus took a pay cut on the deal in exchange for a link from Slate to Kausfiles.com. “I’ve been living off savings. This deal with Slate is to pay the rent,” said Mr. Kaus, who lives in Battery Park City.
But how’s he planning to make money? “Drudge is the business model,” he said. “At some point, you want it to get big enough to sell ads. I bet half of my readers are journalists. Someone will want to reach those readers.”
Mr. Kinsley spun it as part of the glorious cyberfuture. “It is a trend,” he said. “If I may get pompous and philosophical for 30 seconds, the walls between publications on the Internet is purely metaphorical. One page in Slate and another page in Slate are not more connected than one on another site.”
New York magazine’s annual “singles” issue came out Nov. 1 and features something called “Brandon Jones’s Journal,” which is supposed to be a kind of takeoff of Bridget Jones’s Diary , only written by a man. The “bachelor on the make” depicted in it is pretty pathetic: He pops the anti-baldness drug Propecia, worries he’s gong to slip up and become gay, quotes Austin Powers, calls telephone sex lines, refers to his apartment as “the Batcave.” Word around New York magazine is that it’s supposed to be based on Andrew Stengel, flack on the make for Miramax Films.
Is it? “Pffffff,” said Mr. Stengel. “Call Maer Roshan. I’ve heard that, too. It’s not, it’s not.”
Off the Record called Mr. Roshan, New York ‘s deputy editor, who oversaw the singles issue. “It was meant as a composite,” said Mr. Roshan. He wouldn’t say who made up the composite.