- Last Updated: 4:56 PM, April 27, 2012
- Posted: 11:40 PM, April 26, 2012
The rumblings about a big editorial shake-up at American Media have finally come to pass.
James Heidenry, a former longtime editor of Maxim, and for the past four years the top editor of Modern Luxury’s Manhattan magazine, is the new editor-in-chief of Star Magazine.
“The category is down, and we want to broaden Star’s readership base,” said Heidenry, who is slated to hold a meet-and-greet with the staff this morning and start on Monday.
He replaces David Perel, who earlier this week moved upstairs as executive vice president, digital, responsible for things like the National Enquirer app and developing a website for the struggling OK! magazine and other titles. AMI has not had a huge digital presence for its titles beyond RadarOnline.com.
“Digital is not the future, it’s the present,” said Perel, who will hang onto his managing editor role at RadarOnline.com. “I made the transition from print to digital four years ago and wanted to get back to it full time.”
Meanwhile, Richard Spencer, the E-I-C who went MIA at OK! for weeks — phoning it in from a variety of venues while his No. 2 oversaw day-to-day operations — is making a big jump up the masthead and out of the daily fray as the new editorial director of the Celebrity Magazine Group, which will include Star, OK!, Reality Weekly and Soap Opera Digest.
The last person to have an editorial director job at AMI was Bonnie Fuller, but Spencer’s portfolio — and presumably his pay — is a little smaller. Fuller’s salary and bonus were around $2 million.
“I won’t be in the office every day,” said Spencer. “[AMI CEO] David Pecker is being really flexible about that. I’ll be involved with cover selection on all the magazines and rounding out the coverage for Star.” He said a big push will be to make the breaking celeb news more “female-friendly.”
Ryan Pienciak, the No. 2 editor at OK! who stayed with the publication in its transition from the money-losing Richard Desmond era to AMI ownership, is being upped to editor-in-chief of OK! He’ll also be editor of Reality Weekly, the struggling title that was launched this year, with the hard-pressed OK! staff producing both weeklies.
Leah Ginsberg succeeds Pienciak as executive editor.
Tim Plant, who worked with Spencer when he was editing Bauer’s In Touch, was promoted to executive editor of Star, based in the LA bureau.
Meanwhile, at Modern Luxury, Vice President and Editorial Director Beth Weitzman flew in from Atlanta to begin interviewing candidates to replace Heidenry.
The increasingly acrimonious relationship between Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger, Jr., chairman and acting CEO of the New York Times Co., and the 1,100-member Newspaper Guild, its largest union, was on display again this week as nearly 100 Guild members turned out Wednesday for a silent picket at the company’s annual meeting of shareholders.
Sulzberger and other stockholders and board members had to walk a silent gauntlet to get to the gathering in the Time’s glistening headquarters, where protestors unfurled a banner that read: “Without Journalists and Staff, the Times is Just White Space.”
The Guild has been without a contract since March 31, 2011.
Last week, the Guild's boss Bill O'Meara laid out a proposal seeking annual pay hikes of 4 percent a year over five years in his meeting with the Times Company's senior vice president and chief negotiator, Terry Hayes.
“Keep in mind, we really haven’t had any real raises in five or six years,” said Grant Glickson, unit chair for the Guild at the Times. He said there was no raise last year, a 1-percent raise in 2010 and a 5 percent pay cut in 2009.
For the better part of a year, the Times’ chief labor negotiators have insisted the publisher couldn’t afford pay raises over the next three years. Hayes recently softened the company stance ever so slightly and called for no pay hike in year one, a 1-percent hike in year two and a lump sum payment equal to 1 percent in year three.
The Guild contends that raises that tiny would amount to double-digit pay erosion.
The company is also trying to freeze the pension and replace it with a 401(k) plan.
Last week the Guild released a video in which veteran journalists including Clyde Haberman, Jim Dwyer and Donald G. McNeil, Jr., blasted the Times’ intransigence.
“In total, we’re looking for an $8 million to $10 million increase in their labor costs per year,” said Glickson. “That’s for 1,100 people. When you look at the $24 million they found for one person, it puts it all in perspective.”
The reference was to the nearly $24 million that ousted CEO Janet Robinson received in severance and retirement payouts, according to public documents.
The Times declined to comment on any specifics in the contract talks.