IT’S A BUYER’S MARKET, AND THEY’RE JUST IN IT. Only three years after 2008 ravaged many a media property, New York’s editorial operations haven’t just thawed, but many are now on a hiring hot streak.
Media companies poaching from one another is—for better or worse—a longstanding tradition. Sometimes it’s routine—we’ll admit, the Observer has always been a farm team for larger publications to draft from—and other times it’s an aggressive, surprising move that can turn acquaintances into rivals, and frost over once warm friendships. These moves could be a routine change-up, or a bust; other times, they can turn the fortunes of downward-trending editorial operations around on their own. But since that thaw started, and media hiring returned—even as many publications continue to work in diminished ranks, and maybe because that’s the case—the field has been especially aggressive.
Hugo Lindgren’s New York Times Magazine all but staged a raid on his former co-workers at New York after he was taken from the hands of Bloomberg Businessweek. The Atlantic lost Andrew Sullivan to The Daily Beast; same with the Washington Post and Howard Kurtz. Reuters took aim at half of the media world, landing (among others) Bethany McLean, Alix Freedman, Geraldine Fabrikant, and then nabbed Jack Shafer when he was barely fresh out of Slate. Grantland went after two on the Deadspin masthead; one singing, pink gorilla later, and they only stole one. Sasha Frere-Jones joins The Daily, raising questions about his ongoing involvement with The New Yorker, only to leave The Daily and answer any and all questions about his involvement with The New Yorker. GQ’s recently taken from The Daily and The New York Times, and tried to take from New York but couldn’t; New York did, however, lose one to Vanity Fair. We’ve taken from The Daily, Salon, New York, and Esquire this year alone, just to name a few.
Some of the questions that have to be answered for in coming up with a serviceable list of Media Poachables were: Who could be hired to make a substantial difference anywhere? Who would we want to hire? Could they even be taken from their current stead? Are their companies vulnerable? Are they bored, underpaid, or underutilized? And frankly: Who has positioned themselves to score a raise, from their current boss, or a potential boss?
That last question’s the hardest, but it’s essential to the equation. So we developed a fairly-but-not-completely arbitrary number to deal with it: the B.P.N. (or Ballpark Poachability Number). It’s an index compiled from salaries known, either of The Poachables’ or those around them, and then from the kind of offer that could get them to budge; not what they’re paid, it’s what they could get paid. It’s basically a glorified, informed guesstimate, or as we prefer to see it, what is commonly refer to as “suggested retail value.” Media Power Recruiters like Meg Gruppo at Condé or Karen Danziger at HSK: This is as close to a Robb Report as you’re going to get.
Despite plenty of eliminations and the mass of people considered, surely, we missed some people, and surely, you’ll let us know about it in the comments. Want to help perfect that B.P.N.? Salaries held, salaries offered, and retention attempts: Give us the numbers.
And of course, if you’re still unsatisfied, we intentionally excluded an entire group of potentially poachable competition. Feel free to shop around some more.