Hearst's Cathie Black Named New York City Schools Chancellor

Succeeds Joel Klein, Who Jumps to News Corp. as Special Adviser to Murdoch

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The New York City schools don't usually figure this much on the media business.

Cathie Black
Cathie Black
News Corp. has named New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein exec VP in the office of the chairman, reporting to Chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch and joining the board of directors. The city has in turn named Hearst Magazines Chairman Cathie Black to succeed Mr. Klein as the city's new schools chancellor.

Mr. Klein, an attorney who previously led the Justice Department's antitrust case against Microsoft and later led Bertelsmann's operations in the U.S., will act as adviser to Mr. Murdoch on issues including business strategies for the "emerging educational marketplace," News Corp. said.

"We're very fortunate to have a leader of such exceptional depth join the senior executive team of News Corp.," Mr. Murdoch said in a statement. "His record of achievement leading one of the country's toughest school systems has given him a unique perspective that will be particularly important as we look into a sector that has long been in need of innovation."

Ms. Black, for her part, is leaving behind the magazine industry's trials to take on a host of new ones.

Joel Klein
Joel Klein
The mayor's press office said in a statement that Ms. Black's experience, from her years building USA Today as president and publisher to her role on the team overseeing construction of the Hearst Tower, made her the right fit for the schools position. "The Mayor selected Black to follow Klein as Chancellor because of her unique experience building on successes and leading teams to even greater achievements, including her stewardship of Hearst Magazines for the last decade and a half," the statement said.

Hearst Magazines of course also suffered setbacks during Ms. Black's time, including the failure of some magazines that began publishing under her watch, including CosmoGirl, Quick & Simple, Lifetime, Shop Etc. and Talk. The company also initially moved slowly and uncertainly on the internet, where it let iVillage run its magazines' websites for years. But two other launches, O: The Oprah Magazine and Food Network Magazine, have proved major successes, and the company's digital strategy has improved greatly.

"Cathie has served Hearst with distinction for more than 15 years and her contributions as both senior executive and board member will be missed by all of us who have worked alongside her," Hearst Corp. CEO Frank Bennack said in a memo to staff. "As someone who had the privilege of hiring her twice, first at the Newspaper Association of America and then at Hearst, I'm keenly aware of her willingness to take on new and significant challenges. Heading the New York City Department of Education, the largest system of public schools in the U.S., certainly qualifies."

The magazine industry has already seen several unexpected executive changes this year, including David Carey's defection from Conde Nast to Hearst Magazines, where he assumed the CEO post from Ms. Black. Whether Ms. Black would stay long in her reduced capacity became a subject of speculation in the magazine business. It's safe to say that her exit to take over New York City's schools, however, is the magazine industry's most surprising jump of the year.

Ms. Black, who was the first female president of Hearst Magazines, will be the first female chancellor of New York City schools. Mr. Bennack said in his memo to staff that the exact date of Ms. Black's departure had not been set.

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