No More Seymore, Huey Shakes EW

Entertainment Weekly finally pulled a Huey. On Tuesday, Sept. 17, Time Inc. named Fortune magazine deputy managing editor Rick Tetzeli as EW ‘s new managing editor. Mr. Tetzeli, 41, replaces James Seymore, EW ‘s managing editor since a few months after its inaugural publication in 1990. Mr. Seymore will become a Time Inc. editor at large.

Mr. Tetzeli’s hiring is another example of new Time Inc. editorial director John Huey’s aggressive management of the 79-year-old media company. Since his appointment as editorial director in July 2001, Mr. Huey has replaced the editors at Sports Illustrated and People, two of Time Inc’s signature publications. In Mr. Tetzeli-who worked under Mr. Huey when the latter was editor of Fortune -Mr. Huey puts a former charge at the top of EW , another prized property.

“John’s way is to shake it up,” said one top Time Inc. executive. “Not because the old way is bad, but because he wants to move things in ways that will grow the magazine.”

Still, Mr. Tetzeli’s hiring was something of a surprise. Though the well-liked Mr. Seymore’s departure from EW had been expected-in March he took on a consulting role for Time4Media, the AOL Time Warner division that publishes Golf Magazine, Popular Science and Field & Stream , prompting speculation he was preparing to leave-there had been hope that his successor would be hired from within the magazine. Like many of Time Inc’s publications, EW is a magazine where staffers tended to stay for long periods of time, and promotion from within was considered a priority.

Hopes of an internal hire were buoyed earlier this spring when EW executive editors Peter Bonventre and Richard Sanders each took turns running the magazine while Mr. Seymore was away tending to Time4Media.

But there would be no hand-picked, internal successor to Mr. Seymore. Instead, as he had at Sports Illustrated (where he hired Us Weekly ‘s Terry McDonell) and at People (where he hired In Style ‘s Martha Nelson), Mr. Huey went outside the magazine. Mr. Bonventre got a new title as editorial director and Mr. Sanders remained an executive editor. But Mr. Tetzeli got the top job.

A spokesperson for EW said Mr. Seymore was unavailable for comment, and Mr. Tetzeli was unavailable for comment on deadline. A Time Inc. spokesperson said that Mr. Huey was also unavailable for comment. Time Inc. editor in chief Norm Pearlstine said that the decision to hire Mr. Tetzeli was not his or Mr. Huey’s exclusively.

But others within the company said the decision to go outside EW was a telltale Huey move.

“Huey likes the idea of fresh blood at places,” said the senior Time Inc. executive. “The other guys were [Seymore’s] choices, but that’s not the way things happen, at least not in the current regime.”

Mr. Tetzeli spent 12 years at Fortune, rising to executive editor in 2001. His most recent boss, Fortune managing editor Rik Kirkland, said Mr. Tetzeli was just waiting for his chance.

“He’s a terrific magazine maker,” Mr. Kirkland said. “Huey and Pearlstine know him and they’ve seen what he can do at Fortune . I’m going to miss him.”

Mr. Tetzeli apparently bolstered his chances with an impressive prospectus he wrote detailing his ideas for EW ‘s future. Other candidates for the job did the same.

Though Mr. Seymore’s EW -a groundbreaking, catchy mixture of show business profiles, industry news and quick-witted reviews-was one of the greatest publishing successes of the 1990’s, it was considered by some within Time Inc. to be in need of new energy. Entertainment Weekly has a rate base of 1.6 million and boasts 9 million readers each week. The fact that the magazine won a 2002 National Magazine Award for general excellence didn’t dampen the belief that a change was near.

For the staff of EW , Sept. 17 was a whirlwind. EW sources said Mr. Seymore informed his top editors on the morning of the announcement, calling each into his office quickly and informing them individually. After taking some of the editors to lunch, the rest of the staff-as well as the rest of Time Inc.-received the announcement via e-mail, at approximately 1:45 p.m. Mr. Seymore met with the staff soon after and received a standing ovation.

Still, it was a bit of a distraction. EW was closing an issue. “No one can concentrate,” a staffer said late on the afternoon of Sept. 17.

Could Mr. Tetzeli’s hiring prompt an EW exodus? According to a Time. Inc source, a Time Inc. spokesperson confirmed that Mr. Huey met with Mr. Sanders, assistant managing editors Maggie Murphy and Mark Harris as well as Los Angeles bureau chief Mary Kaye Shilling and “had good conversations with all of them.”

One EW source said it was time to play wait-and-see. “It comes down to who leaves besides Jim,” the source said. “If everyone in play for one job or another decides they like the new guy, that they’re going to stay, that’s fine. However, if a bunch of us decide to look elsewhere, it could be very destabilizing.

“A lot of people,” the source continued, “were waiting for this to happen before deciding what to do next.”

Mr. Pearlstine said breaking the news on a closing day ensured the entire staff would be present. He said the decision to change editors had been a matter of tenure and had nothing to do about the company’s feelings towards the magazine.

Mr. Pearlstine said he wasn’t worried about an EW ‘s top shelf talent leaving. Mr. Pearlstine said he considered Mr. Tetzeli one of the “spectacular talents” at Time Inc. who had an “interest in and aptitude for the stories at Entertainment Weekly ” and said he hoped that Mr. Bonventre’s expanded role as editorial director would assuage any fears people might have regarding the direction of the magazine. Mr. Pearlstine also said there were also “probably some at EW we’d like to move to other titles.”

“It is strategically our desire to balance if you will instance where we promote within a specific magazine to place,” Mr. Pearlstine said, “where we create opportunities at different titles.”

As for the selection process, Mr. Pearlstine said the company had considered half-dozen candidates from inside EW, half a dozen from inside the company, as well as a couple of candidates outside the Time Inc. division. The decision, was not his or Mr. Huey’s alone.

” I do think,” Mr. Pearlstine said, “that Rick has shown himself to be a superb magazine maker with a keen understanding of EW’s story of today and the EW story of tomorrow.

When asked what the EW story of tomorrow might be, Mr. Pearlstine said: “Stay tuned.”

This summer, new Columbia University President Lee Bollinger stunned his faculty-and triggered a nationwide chin-scratch among windy media thinkers-when he suspended the school’s search for a new dean for its famed Graduate School of Journalism, citing his desire to reassess “what a modern journalism-school curriculum should look like.”

Mr. Bollinger’s decision, announced via e-mail, quickly dumped fuel on an old, smoldering fire between journalism’s academics and its real-world practitioners. The pointy-heads were happy, but some graduates and faculty said Mr. Bollinger had misunderstood Columbia’s combination of theory with real-world training. What, they asked, was Mr. Bollinger, in from Michigan, implying when he wrote that “the craft of journalism is a worthy goal but clearly insufficient in this new world and within the settling of a great university?”

“What this says to me is that he’s just a rube in the big city who doesn’t understand what we do,” one Columbia faculty member told Off the Record in July.

Another faculty source said: “I have no idea what the hell he’s talking about.”

On Sept. 13, Columbia’s faculty finally got a chance to sit in a room and ask Mr. Bollinger what the hell he was talking about. According to sources, the meeting with the new dean solved very little. One faculty member compared it to a “Watergate press conference.”

What especially rankled faculty members at the meeting, sources said, was Mr. Bollinger’s contention that a journalism school, like many other graduate-level programs, could examine broader issues and was not necessarily obligated to give students on-the-job training. Mr. Bollinger compared the journalism school to a law school, sources said, essentially pointing out that law-school students don’t learn how to draft briefs or serve complaints.

But, as they did after his July memo, irked faculty members interpreted Mr. Bollinger’s comments about teaching as a slight of the current journalism school. They felt the new president was ignoring the present intellectually rigorous elements of the school’s curriculum, and was underestimating them as a sweaty bunch of journalism Bob Vilas, teaching their students in a woodshed while the rest of the university pursued higher, more ingenious goals.

Though one faculty source said Mr. Bollinger “did not give the impression of someone there to do damage control,” the new Columbia president did try and diffuse the tension early in the meeting. Sources said he told the faculty at the meeting that he hasn’t meant to disparage the school at all-on the contrary, he admired it very much. He told them that one reason he suspended the dean search at the journalism school was that he wanted the appointment to be done with the weight of the president’s office behind it, sources said. Mr. Bollinger also invited anyone with questions to come and see him, and said the views of the new search committee didn’t necessarily have to be his own.

“He was very open and very impressive,” one faculty member said. “He gave his thesis about why this university with all these rich resources should put them to maximum use so students can come away with the best possible education.”

But others were unmoved, saying that Mr. Bollinger still didn’t appreciate the journalism program’s time-honored techniques.

“This guy doesn’t understand that the same people we graduate routinely come back to pick up Pulitzer Prizes,” one faculty member said. “He doesn’t understand why that’s important, why that’s good.”

After speaking, Mr. Bollinger fielded a series of questions. Among those who spoke was Sam Freedman, the interim associate dean for academic affairs, who, according to sources, asked the new president why, if he believed what he was saying, there was “any need to have a journalism school at all?” Also piping in was former journalism-school dean Joan Konner, asking where Mr. Bollinger was getting his information regarding the school’s curriculum.

Mr. Freedman did not respond to a request by Off the Record seeking comment. Ms. Konner, however, called the meeting “productive.”

“By suspending the search for a dean, the president said he had a high regard for the school, and that he wanted to devote the proper time and energy in choosing the right person for the future,” Ms. Konner said.

Others who attended the meeting with Mr. Bollinger were equally hopeful. “To my mind, I think he came, he answered questions, and I give him big points for answering the questions,” said associate journalism professor Michael Shapiro. “To my own mind, I don’t think he’s made up his mind yet about what the school should be.

“I think he has opened a debate here,” Mr. Shapiro continued, “which is reasonable and is raising the intensity of a debate that is ongoing here, that is inevitable and important, which will only galvanize more clearly what this school is all about.”

Mr. Bollinger, who has called for a task force to handle the re-examination of the journalism school, was unavailable for comment, a Columbia spokesperson said. When asked about the meeting, the spokesperson said: “My understanding is that the president’s meetings with members of the faculty are confidential. It’s not really appropriate for him to discuss his meetings with them.”

The spokesperson said the university was still in the process of putting the task force together, but said an announcement might come “soon-hopefully at the end of this week.”

As for any deadline the school’s set for finding a new dean, the Columbia spokesperson said: “It’s premature to talk about a deadline. The substance here is more important than the deadline. The task force hasn’t even been chosen yet. It’s a process.”

Eek! Mice in The New York Times ! On Sept. 3, The Times’ chapter of the Newspaper Guild sent a memo out to its members discussing the newspaper’s pesky and widening mouse problem in its 43rd Street headquarters. According to the memo, mice have been pitter-pattering in The Times ‘ third- and fourth-floor newsroom and have lately invaded the second-floor marketing-services department.

“Several employees have seen live mice throughout the second-floor offices,” the memo said. “Some have found dead mice in the area or discovered droppings.”

The memo stated that the Times management blames the heat and surrounding construction for the mice problem. According to the guild, the Times management sent in Jay McKillop, director of building operations, and Terel Cooperhouse, The Times ‘ director of operational health, to address members of the staff about the problem. A potential solution was also set into place: According to the memo, the paper upped its exterminator visits to twice a week while placing “50 glue traps baited with a cherry scent” all over the second floor.

The guild memo also stated that The Times “has also purchased disinfectant that employees can use to clean their desks of mouse droppings.”

The memo also suggested preventative measures the staff could take. When asked about the matter, a Times spokesperson said, “We are taking necessary steps to address the issues described and which pertain to a discrete part of our facility. We are already seeing favorable results, and we believe our accelerated efforts will resolve the matter.”

Eek!

After Robert Friedman died on July 2, 2002, at age 51, his wife, USA Today reporter Christine Dugas, received an e-mail from one of Mr. Friedman’s sources inside a U.S. government agency.

The source praised Mr. Friedman for his curiosity and his understanding of the subject matter. The e-mail noted Mr. Friedman’s attention to detail and nuance-aspects that transform good stories into great ones.

“He had to write about the things that interested him,” Ms. Dugas said in reflection. “This is how he’d work: He’d ask himself, ‘What interests me? What do I feel strongly about?'”

On Sept. 23, friends and former colleagues will meet at the CUNY Graduate Center Recital Hall to pay tribute to Mr. Friedman, a longtime investigative reporter whose work on the Russian mob and Israeli settlements earned him admiration amongst a community of journalists. New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer and Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation , will be among those speaking at the service.

Mr. Friedman’s death came in the line of duty-or, at the very least, as a result of his duty. While reporting on the business of prostitution in the slums of Bombay for Vanity Fair in 1995 (The piece would later run in The Nation as “India’s Shame”), Mr. Friedman contracted a rare blood disease-a condition that, over time, would end his life. Ultimately, Mr. Friedman sacrificed his life for a piece he considered his best work.

“I think it combined a lot of elements,” Ms. Dugas said of the story. “It had to do with organized crime, with political corruption and the plague of AIDS.

“After it came out,” Ms. Dugas said, “he could see the effect the story had on people.”

The years that followed, however, were difficult. In order to combat his disease, Mr. Friedman took heavy amounts of steroids. Over time, he lost massive amounts of bone mass. But he continued to write and report-in the Middle East and at home for, among others, The New Yorker , The Nation and The Village Voice , where he’d once been a staffer.

“Each time he’d get better,” said Micah Sifry, his onetime editor at The Nation and now a senior analyst for Public Campaign, “he’d get out of the hospital, go back to work really hard to make deadlines, and go back to the hospital the next day.

“I’d often say to him, ‘Slow down. Give yourself a break. Why don’t you write book reviews or something?’ And he’d say, ‘I can’t. This is what I do.'”

Scene: Two world leaders pound fists on a table and shake fingers at one another, surrounded by a whirl of reporters and photographers. One scribe bears a passing resemblance to Ashleigh Banfield. Flash bulbs fill the room.

“They changed their position!” says the mustachioed and more, well, ethnic-looking leader.

“They’re showing no flexibility!” screams the other, er, whiter one.

The scene freezes. The screen turns from color to black and white. An announcer proclaims: “This used to be the deadline-until Unisys System Integration bought The Wall Street Journal valuable extra time.

“Because only the latest news … ” the announcer begins as the camera follows the men out of a building. The Banfieldesque reporter asks, “So you say you’ve reached an agreement?” and the two men shake hands before the announcer completes the sentence: ” … is the real news.”

If you saw and heard this while watching a professional football game recently, here’s why: Two years ago, Unisys-an information-systems company-helped The Journal with a production system that ushered in a third edition that allowed the paper to drop in breaking news at a later time. Since June, Unisys has been using that fact in television ads (as well as in print) during golf tournaments and now, N.F.L. games.

Asked why his company chose to highlight The Journal , Kerry Baker, the advertising program director for Unisys, said: ” The Wall Street Journal had worldwide recognition. We work with a number of other publications, but The Wall Street Journal has brand recognition.

“Plus,” Mr. Baker added, “the people we’re trying to reach are senior executives at [private] companies and their governmental equivalents. The Wall Street Journal ‘s a tested, vital title they tend to trust.”

Mr. Baker said the company received permission from the paper to use it in its advertisement, and that The Journal had final approval on its content.

When asked to explain the paper’s decision to participate, a spokesperson for its parent company, Dow Jones, said: “We’re perfectly pleased to tell the world about the fact that we can put out a better product than we could ever do before, and they had a big, big role in that.”

The spokesperson insisted that Dow Jones treated the matter as “church and state” and that it wouldn’t affect its coverage of Unisys itself within The Journal .

“This is nothing new for us,” the spokesperson said. “We have lots of companies we do business with who’ll come to us with a press release saying, ‘Can we mention that we did this for you or that you used this service from us?’ It’s not an unusual request to get.”