Jinxed MPA names new chairman

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The Magazine Publishers of America, as expected, named Thomas Kenney, president, global magazine and corporate development at Reader's Digest Association, to be the chairman of the trade group.

Steve Florio, president of Conde Nast Publications, moves up to vice chairman. The two had been serving as secretary and treasurer, respectively.

Mr. Kenney and Mr. Florio rose through the executive hierarchy following the resignation of MPA Chairman Claeys Bahrenburg, who had been president of Hearst Magazines until his ouster in November.

Earlier this month, MPA Vice Chairman Francis Pandolfi said he was leaving the industry to join the Department of the Interior. He had been chairman of the Times Mirror Magazines following a company shakeup this summer that stripped him of the president and CEO responsibilities.

Rounding out the MPA board are Richard M. Smith, president-editor in chief of Newsweek, who will be treasurer, and Edward Lewis, publisher-CEO of Essence Communications, who will be secretary.

The inclusion of Mr. Lewis, an outspoken and successful African-American publisher, highlights the MPA's fight to increase ethnic diversity in its ranks.

The sudden departures of Mr. Bahrenburg and Mr. Pandolfi from their publishing jobs came only weeks after the American Magazine Conference in Boca Raton, Fla., where the two were tapped for the MPA posts.

Their dismissal revived talks in industry circles of the old "MPA jinx." For a period of time from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, three consecutive industry executives lost their publishing jobs before completing their terms as MPA chairman. The list included Newsweek's Mark Edmiston, 1986 to 1987; Paul McPherson of McGraw-Hill, 1987-88; and Peter Diamandis of Diamandis Communications, 1988-1990.

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