Joe Zee, Elle’s creative director, is the new editor-in-chief and executive creative officer of Yahoo Fashion, Yahoo announced in a press release Monday.
“I have always embraced technology and innovation in everything I do — from making a magazine, to executive producing and hosting my television shows, to writing my books. So, the chance to combine all of these passions at Yahoo during a period of tremendous innovation and transformation is a dream,” says Zee. “I’ve spent more than two decades speaking to women through magazines. What’s so exciting about Yahoo is that I can inspire and connect with hundreds of millions more women, and bring them the magic of the fashion world in ways they haven’t yet experienced.”
Zee joins makeup line creator Bobbi Brown, who is the new editor of Yahoo Beauty.
That arrangement could lead to some interesting conflicts, since Brown runs Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. Tom McCarthy and Rosie Swash wrote about what the could mean, and they spoke with Poytner’s Kelly McBride, for The Guardian on April 9.
It was unclear whether any editorial restrictions would be put in place on Brown’s coverage, as Yahoo editor, of Bobbi Brown products – or on her coverage of competing cosmetic companies’ products.
“The thing that’s surprising about this is it creates an absolutely obvious conflict of interest,” said Kelly McBride, co-author of The New Ethics of Journalism and senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute. “The reason that people would turn to Yahoo Beauty is for independent news and analysis on a specialty topic. If you have an editor who has a vested financial interest in a product line, news consumers are automatically going to assume that that product line gets preferential treatment. And so it doesn’t even matter if it actually does get preferential treatment, the perception alone will damage Yahoo’s credibility.”
McCarthy and Swash wrote that, according to a Yahoo spokesperson, the company has “very strict editorial guidelines and Yahoo Beauty will adhere to these standards just like all of our sites.”
In November, Poynter wrote about Katie Couric joining Yahoo.