Another Publisher Out at Entertainment Weekly

Ray Chelstowski Exit Reminds Us That Weeklies' Drama Isn't All About Newsweek

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New York ( -- We're paying a lot of attention to news weeklies on the order of Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report these days, but even pop culture weeklies have their troubles.

Ray Chelstowski
Ray Chelstowski
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Just when Entertainment Weekly seemed to be rolling the boulder back up the hill, Time Inc. told EW staff this morning that its publisher of the last two years, Ray Chelstowski, is leaving.

Mr. Chelstowski informed Paul Caine, president and group publisher of the Style & Entertainment Group at Time Inc., that he has decided to leave EW, Mr. Caine said in a staff memo. No successor was named. "I will be communicating a plan shortly, and my door is open should you have any thoughts or suggestions," said Mr. Caine, himself a former EW publisher.

He returned to the title, where he had worked earlier in other capacities, as publisher in May 2009, the latest in a series of publishers to tackle the title as it fended off occasional rumors that it might be shut down. He succeeded Scott Donaton, the former publisher of Advertising Age who became the title's fifth publisher in five years when he took over in November 2007. Mr. Chelstowski did not immediately respond to a voicemail and email seeking comment Friday morning. An EW spokeswoman declined to comment.

In Mr. Chelstowski's time at EW, the magazine sold CBS an ad that included a video player promoting its fall season; introduced Microsoft Tags, which let readers snap mobile phone photos to view movie trailers or get offers from advertisers; it changed its delivery schedule so more home subscribers would get their copies before the weekend, partly a bid to lure advertisers that want to reach readers before their weekend shopping; introduced an iPad app that, rather than reproducing each issue, took the magazine's Must List franchise to the platform and let users buy many of the songs, movie tickets and books that it recommended.

Mr. Chelstowski also reorganized the sales staff. Ad pages over the first three quarters of this year increased 26.7% from the equivalent period in 2009, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. You might point out that last year was horrible for almost every magazine, so everyone's 2010 numbers ought to look good compared to 2009. But that's not the case: magazines on the whole slipped 1.6% in the first three quarters while many weeklies declined more: TV Guide sank 16.8%, Newsweek plunged 12.7%, Bloomberg BusinessWeek drifted down 4.7%, Us Weekly lost 3.3% and Time slipped 2%. All of those titles had declines in the first three quarters last year too.

But Mr. Chelstowski could have a temper, according to people who worked with him, and was not universally liked by executives within Time Inc.

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