Newsweek President and Editor in Chief Richard Smith was elected chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America at the group's annual meeting in Bermuda. He succeeds Thomas Kenney, who's also leaving his post as president-global magazine and corporate development at Reader's Digest Association. Mr. Kenney joked this morning about the "MPA jinx"--the line of MPA chairmen who have lost their day jobs while they held that title--by flashing a slide with a phone number for people to call with job offers.
Mr. Smith joked that he was picked for the post "in the hopes that an editor can serve out an entire yearlong term." Other MPA officers elected to one-year terms were: Edward Lewis, chairman-CEO, Essence Communications, as vice chairman; Cathleen Black, president, Hearst Magazines, as treasurer; and Don Logan, president-CEO, Time Inc., as secretary. In addition, eight new directors were named to the MPA board: Claeys Bahrenburg, chairman-CEO, Petersen Publishing; Lawrence Burke, president, Mariah Publications; Michael T. Carr, president-CEO, Weider Publications; Gregory G. Coleman, VP-general manager, U.S. magazines and publisher of the U.S. edition of Reader's Digest; Michael S. Leeds, president-CEO, CMP Media; Christopher M. Little, president, Meredith Magazines; Gordon Medenica, senior VP-group publisher, New York Times Co. Magazine Group; and Michael S. Perlis, president, TVSM Publishing.
Magazines: A seller's marketThe consolidation trend will continue to sweep the magazine industry, according to a panel of investment bankers at the American Magazine Conference.
"It's difficult in today's environment to be a smaller publisher," said John Suhler, president of Veronis, Suhler & Associates. "I think smaller publishers should be forming alliances to get more clout in their cost structure."
Magazines remain good investments, said Steven Rattner, managing director, Lazard Freres & Co. Investors like the business because of its "high-quality, proprietary content" and targeted-audience approach, he said, adding that the biggest challenge to magazines is from alternative platforms like online media and satellite TV.
Conde Nast no-showsThe American Magazine Conference's 722 attendees aren't a record for the conference but include a record number of MPA members, said Gregory Coleman, conference chairman. Surprisingly absent from the meeting are many executives from Conde Nast Publications, one of the MPA's largest members.
Only a handful showed up, including retiring corporate exec Joe Fuchs. Conde Nast President Steve Florio was marching in New York's Columbus Day Parade, but other top executives, including Jack Kliger and Michael Clinton were also among the no-shows.
President's outlookMPA President Donald Kummerfeld, in his opening remarks, said the third and fourth quarters "are looking much better than the first half" in terms of ad pages and "the outlook for 1997 is generally positive." Current concerns include "the chaos and consolidation occurring in newsstand distribution," he said, as well as "finding ways to improve measurement of magazine readership" and "protecting commercial free speech, which has been attacked by the FDA regulations on tobacco advertising."