Kosner Begins Reshuffling the Decks at the Daily News

Newly installed Daily News editor in chief Ed Kosner hasn’t reached his May 1 deadline for studying the newspaper, but one of the first moves is elevating former Time magazine star and Brill’s Content editor Michael Kramer, who had been overseeing the editorial pages of Mr. Kosner’s Sunday edition, to oversee all of the News’ political beats, including City Hall, Albany and Washington, D.C.

Mr. Kosner said, “The political coverage will be directed by Michael Kramer, working with Senior Executive Editor Michael Goodwin and myself.” This means that the national editor Diane Goldie as well as city editor Ruth Landa will now answer to Mr. Kramer on political stories.

Mr. Kosner said other people’s roles would change as he drew his study to a close, but he would not elaborate. Staffers asserted that politics was never a high priority during the regime of Debby Krenek, which ended on March 24.

Some in the newsroom saw the changes as an attempt by Mortimer Zuckerman, the publisher of the New York Daily News , and Mr. Kosner to give the working-class tabloid more of a presence among Manhattan sophisticates, á la Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post .

“These guys and Zuckerman want to be players,” a staffer said. “Zuckerman wants the paper to appear more intelligent on his own behalf, but to the degree that they’re talking about our audience, I don’t know.”

Whatever plans Mr. Kosner has, Orla Healy, the fashion editor, who created the “Thersday” section, will not be part of them. Ms. Healy gave notice on April 24 that she would be decamping for InStyle , where she’ll start May 8 as deputy editor. This is the second time Ms. Healy has turned down a chance to work with Mr. Kosner. As he was building a staff for his Sunday edition, Mr. Kosner approached Ms. Healy, who was then editing the Sunday supplement. “She had originally been offered to head the Sunday entertainment and lifestyle but she didn’t want to work with Kosner,” said one writer. Instead Ms. Healy went over to the features staff. “I think that Debby Krenek offered her something better,” Mr. Kosner said.

The eternally suspicious Daily News staff has expected to see the greatest turmoil caused by the ascension of Mr. Kosner in the features department. Along with Ms. Healy, the other features editors, without clear hierarchy, include features editor Alan Mirabella, travel editor Linda Perney and then the Sunday features editor Jane Freiman.

Where the three end up, and how their roles change, is still to be seen. “There’s a little bit of the feeling that this is the night of the long knives,” said one staff member. Plus ça change, plus la Daily News.

Ever since The New York Times dubbed Jim Cramer a Wall Street “triple threat” in early 1999, Barron’s “Up & Down Wall Street” columnist Alan Abelson has made it clear in print that he does not hold the founder of TheStreet.com in the very same high regard.

Most recently, in the April 17 issue, Mr. Abelson, barely containing his glee at seeing TheStreet.com’s stock slump more than 90 percent from its peak the day after the initial public offering, wrote some doggerel and dedicated it to Mr. Cramer: “We hoped we’d never chance to see/ A paranoid popinjay. /But having seen one, we can say/ we’d rather see than be one.”

Predictably then, in the April 24 issue, a letter from Mr. Cramer appeared on the Mailbag page (“As my 5-year-old would say: ‘Alan, shut up already!'”) giving Mr. Abelson the opportunity to launch one more zinger. (“We’d never intentionally aggravate the condition of another human being in the throes of serious distress.”)

There was only one problem: James J. Cramer didn’t send the letter.

That was the work of Neil Sinhababu, who as a junior at Harvard ran an undergraduate investing club and is a fan of Mr. Cramer’s. Barron’s ran as a letter words that Mr. Sinhababu took from Mr. Cramer’s dispatches on TheStreet.com and sent them on in an e-mail to the “editors@barrons.com” address. According to Barron’s managing editor Richard Rescigno, when the paper received Mr. Sinhababu’s e-mail (from his own Harvard student account) nobody verified the identity of the sender. “It certainly sounded Cramer-esque,” Mr. Rescigno said.

When Mr. Cramer saw the issue of Barron’s , he pointed out the snafu on his own Web site. Reached for comment, Mr. Cramer told Off the Record, “I didn’t want this war to go on.”

But as Rufus T. Firefly’s hand in peace was rejected by Ambassador Trentino in Duck Soup , so was Mr. Cramer’s by Mr. Abelson. Noting that both Mr. Cramer (class of ’77) and Mr. Sinhababu (class of ’01) share an alma mater, Mr. Abelson–educated at City College–said, “They certainly haven’t gotten any brighter at Harvard.”

As the words came out of Maxim editor in chief Mike Soutar’s mouth on the morning of April 25, the staff of the men’s magazine froze, mouths agape, bracing for the name they thought he was going to say.

Having just confirmed during a regular editorial meeting that he would be stepping down after spending one year at the helm, Mr. Soutar, dressed impeccably in a dark blue Prada suit, was about to name his successor.

“It’s someone who is very well-known in the world of men’s magazines, a name I’m sure you are all very familiar with,” he said in his thick Scottish brogue.

Many were sure that name would be Mark Golin–stocky steward of Details until Condé Nast folded that title on March 20, and before that, the top guy at Maxim.

“The new editor is Keith Blanchard,” Mr. Soutar finally said, announcing that the magazine’s popular, khakis-and-sneakers-clad group creative director would be moving into the top spot.

People started breathing again.

Mr. Soutar, a 33-year-old Scotland native, will become the managing director of music and sport for U.K. publisher IPC. The company puts out more than 95 magazines, notably Loaded , another of the so-called lad mags. Before taking over Maxim , Mr. Soutar served as editor of yet another men’s magazine, the then-British title FHM , which launched in the United States earlier this year.

Mr. Blanchard, 34, has worked at Maxim , also a British import, since its 1996 U.S. launch. He once served as acting editor in chief for three issues just before Mr. Golin took over in the spring of 1998. He also edited the premiere issue of Stuff , which is, like Maxim , a Dennis Publishing title.

In the year of Mr. Soutar’s tenure, the magazine’s circulation has risen from 1.2 million to nearly two million. Mr. Blanchard inherits a title that has pushed onward–skimpier bikinis, more booby jokes, higher sales–as other men’s magazines like Details , POV , Bikini and Icon have disappeared. The Maxim staff welcomed the announcement–once they got over the shock.

“Everybody was pretty surprised,” said one staffer who was at yesterday’s meeting. “But I guess we had been getting a weird vibe from Mike recently. When he was going on a trip to England not too long ago he said it was for a bachelor party. Now, I guess, the truth comes out.”

The appointment of Mr. Blanchard, Mr. Souter said, made leaving that much easier. “He’s quite possibly the funniest person I’ve ever worked with,” Mr. Soutar said. “And I’ve worked with lots and lots of funny people.”

–Ryan D’Agostino Kosner Begins Reshuffling the Decks at the Daily News