Spin loses another editor-in-chief

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Craig Marks is no longer EIC of Spin: Marks tells Poynter via email he’s out. He was the publication’s fourth editor in two years. Stephen Blackwell, SpinMedia’s fourth CEO in the same amount of time, told me Monday that he had “high hopes” for the publication, and that it would add more editing talent soon. (Poynter) | A quick phone call with Marks: “It was a mutual and amicable decision that I would leave,” he said. “With the new CEO and the new regime it felt like the right time to part ways. I would like to pursue other interests including trying to finally get a bead on my next book.” Marks, who was executive editor at the magazine in the ’90s (I worked with him then for a spell then, in my first media job), took the job in June and says the split was not performance-related. I asked him whether he felt like his brief stay there — a summer job? — had been a waste of time. “No, not at all,” he said. “It was really great, even if it was brief, to be back at Spin and to help restore and revive a publication that meant a lot and means a lot to people, and I sincerely hope I helped lay the groundwork for Spin to be good and relevant and meaningful.”
  2. Somaly Mam says she didn’t lie: “This past May, Mam’s life imploded after a Newsweek report left the impression that she had fabricated her life story and had encouraged a girl in her care to lie that she had been trafficked,” Abigail Pesta writes. “While in Cambodia, I investigated the claims against Mam and spoke to people cited in the Newsweek piece, three of whom said their views were misrepresented. One of the three, identified in Newsweek as a woman, is, in fact, a man.” (Marie Claire)
  3. Mark Ruffalo visited The Boston Globe: The actor was researching his role as reporter Michael Rezendes in “Spotlight,” a film about the Globe’s reporting on the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse scandal. (The Boston Globe)
  4. “On this beat if you fuck up with the national office, you’re fucked”: Dave McKenna writes about the uneven power relationships between the league and its media “partners” that makes independent NFL coverage very difficult. (Deadspin) | Related: Advertisers, including Anheuser-Busch and McDonald’s, have said they’re not satisfied with the NFL’s response to child abuse and domestic violence charges against players. (ESPN)
  5. Influential LGBT people in media: NPR reporter Ari Shapiro (currently enduring the sound of bagpipes as he covers the Scots referendum), Janet Mock, Re/code’s Ina Fried and Capital’s Tom McGeveran make the top 50. (Advocate)
  6. New offices for Gawker publications: “For want of others seeking the role, we are the guardians of independent media,” Gawker Media honcho Nick Denton (No. 7 on the Advocate list) says in a memo to staffers, telling them they’ll soon be blogging from 114 Fifth Ave. (Re/code) | “The new office is just a few blocks from Gawker competitors Buzzfeed and Business Insider, and is in the same building as social news site Mashable and Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media, which is where former Gawker editor John Cook currently works.” (Capital)
  7. Is it plagiarism? Ben Mullin made a handy flowchart for editors and media watchers. (Poynter)
  8. Journalist murdered in Afghanistan: Palwasha Tokhi Miranzai “was repeatedly stabbed by unidentified men inside her house in Mazar-e-Sharif city.” (Khaama Press)
  9. Front page of the day, selected by Kristen Hare: A scary waterspout on the front of the Pensacola News Journal. (Courtesy Newseum)


  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Guy Vidra will become the new CEO of The New Republic. He is the general manager of Yahoo News. Owner Chris Hughes will remain as publisher but will no longer be editor-in-chief. (The New Republic) | Dana Liebelson will be a political reporter at HuffPost Politics. She’s a reporter for Mother Jones. (Email) | Ashley Codianni is now a senior producer and digital correspondent for CNN Politics Digital. She’s Mashable’s director of news video. (Fishbowl DC) | Cara Parks has been named executive editor at Modern Farmer. She was previously a freelancer and deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. (Observer.com) | Suejin Yang has been named vice president and general manager of digital entertainment at People and Entertainment Weekly. Previously, she was vice president of Bravo Digital Media. (Fishbowl NY) | Job of the day: ProPublica is looking for a research editor. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Read more


What’s next for Spin?

SpinMedia CEO Stephen Blackwell says he’s got “high hopes” for the company’s namesake publication, whose staff has dwindled. I started hearing rumblings last week that Craig Marks, who took a job as Spin’s editor-in-chief in June, either had left or might be leaving soon.

“We are in discussions with Craig right now, and nothing’s been decided yet, but he’s at the moment the editor-in-chief of Spin,” Blackwell said in a brief phone call. Reached last week, Marks said he couldn’t discuss his employment but said it would be incorrect to report he was no longer editor.

News editor Chris Martins said much the same thing when I contacted him; he and associate editor Kyle McGovern are the only editorial employees listed on Spin’s about page.

Blackwell is SpinMedia’s fourth CEO in the last two years. Marks is the fourth top editor the music publication has had since SpinMedia, then named BuzzMedia, purchased it in 2012 (it renamed itself after Spin in early 2013). He follows Jem Aswad, Caryn Ganz and Steve Kandell in that position. SpinMedia named A.J. Daulerio its editorial director in August 2013 and laid him off a few months later. Marks was also Spin’s executive editor in the ’90s, when we worked together; he was ousted from that position in 1999.

SpinMedia laid off 19 people last week and got rid of sister title Vibe’s print publication. Blackwell told me, as he told Capital’s Peter Sterne, that the layoffs hit staff involved in print production. “We don’t need people working on photo edit for a print publication,” he said.

Spin and Vibe aren’t the biggest publications in the SpinMedia constellation by traffic, Blackwell said, but they have the “largest brand legacies.” Spin has between 5 and 6 million unique visitors a month, he said, about on par with SpinMedia titles like Death and Taxes, which he founded. Vibe draws 6 to 7 million uniques per month, while The Frisky brings in 8 million and Celebuzz does about 14 million uniques, Blackwell said. Still, he said he’s very excited to be working on Spin.

“I’ve been reading Spin for 20 years,” says Blackwell, who is 32. Its staff, he said, will be “growing in the right direction,” and soon adding editors. “All the stars are aligning in the property; we’re just homing in on the editorial values,” he said.

Those values, he said, would reflect what the company wants Spin to represent to people — “We don’t want it to be just music news,” he said. The hope is that it will be a place where people come to be informed and entertained, but also “can attach to personally.” One thing he hopes to add, he said, are what he calls “identity posts.” He’d also like more volume, but “that doesn’t mean just chasing viral hits.” Read more

In this 1993 file photo, lead singer of Nirvana Kurt Cobain is photographed. Seattle police in April 2014, plan to release new photographs discovered during a re-examination of the death of Nirvana's Cobain. Cobain, who was 27 when he died. (AP Photo/Mark J.Terrill, file)

What it was like to report on Kurt Cobain: Talk about music. Don’t mention drugs

Craig Marks does not remember who was supposed to be on the cover of Spin’s June 1994 cover — probably not Pearl Jam (“that would be too ironic,” he said when reached by phone). But he does remember the extraordinary circumstances under which Spin staffers put together the magazine issue referred to internally for years as “Dead Kurt.”

Marks was the magazine’s music editor at the time and was in Indiana when he heard that Cobain’s body had been found on Friday, April 8, 1994. He flew back to New York to help crunch out a tribute issue. “There was no doubt we were going to put Kurt on the cover,” he said. But as the magazine (for which I later worked) mustered its forces, one of its employees, Research Editor Daniel Fidler, died of a heroin overdose.

Nirvana in 1991. (AP Photo/Chris Cuffaro, File)

“These two things were at the very least cosmically related,” Marks said, “and so while we were trying to put out this issue we were dealing with the death of a friend and a co-worker, so it was a very emotionally rough time period.” The magazine dedicated the June 1994 issue to Fidler.

Marks also remembers that Spin had someone on the ground in Seattle at the time — Jim Greer, then a senior contributing writer, who Marks recalled begged off writing something. “He kind of choked,” Marks said. “I remember having a lot of animated conversations with Jim Greer about why he couldn’t file a story.”

Reached by email, Greer said, “Kurt was a friend and I never had any intention of writing about his death for Spin. I didn’t talk to Craig until several days afterwards, at which point we had a conversation that could be characterized as animated.” Read more


SpinMedia will lay off staff today

SpinMedia is making “a number of structural adjustments” that will result in layoffs, new CEO Dale Strang told staffers in a memo Wednesday.

“As you can expect, some of these changes involve personnel reductions,” Strang said. Management will be “communicating those changes” in meetings today. The company’s namesake publication (where I used to work) is losing several staffers. Strang mentions no specific number of layoffs. In addition to Spin, SpinMedia owns or sells ads for quite a few publications, including Vibe, The Frisky and Celebuzz.

In an email, company spokesperson Julia Walker told Poynter that while SpinMedia is “always looking for growth, we recognize that we need to do so efficiently in order to truly scale our company.”

We’re taking steps that reflect that focus—we’re converting select sites from the SpinMedia collection from wholly-owned to partnerships, consolidating some of our back office functions and streamlining various other parts of our organization. These steps involve personnel adjustments, which are never easy but we know that in an opportunity-rich environment, we need to constantly refine and adjust our operation in order to be our competitive best.

Strang’s memo: Read more

1 Comment

SpinMedia puts A.J. Daulerio in charge of its music and entertainment properties

Fox Sports Radio

A.J. Daulerio tells Jason Whitlock he will be an editorial director at SpinMedia. Among his charges, he says: Spin, Vibe, Celebuzz, The Frisky.

Daulerio tells Whitlock Spin and Vibe are “publications most people have heard of, just in their current iteration it doesn’t seem like they actually have a lot of readership online.” Spin, where I used to work, dismissed Editor-in-Chief Caryn Ganz in May and named Jem Aswad as her replacement.

Daulerio, Gawker’s former editor-in-chief, began consulting for BuzzMedia, the former name of SpinMedia, in March. He’ll “drive the direction and voice of several of our properties,” SpinMedia CEO Steve Hansen tells employees in an memo, saying Daulerio’s title will be Editorial Director of Entertainment and Music.

Read more

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Spin lets its editor-in-chief go

Spin has parted ways with Editor-in-Chief Caryn Ganz. Jeff Leeds, the editorial boss of parent company SpinMedia, gave the news to staffers in a meeting Wednesday night in Spin’s New York office.

Reached by phone, Ganz confirmed her departure, which she called “surprising,” noting that Spin’s website had just had the second-biggest month traffic-wise in its history. Ganz worked for Spin from 2001 to 2006, and returned in October 2011 after stints at Yahoo! and Rolling Stone.

“Before I came back there was a large rift between the editorial visions of the site and the magazine,” she said. “Now that we only had digital concerns, we were amping up the quality and the aesthetic and the humor of the old Spin.” The publication, Ganz said, “had restored the faith of our peers in what we were doing.” Read more

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Steve Kandell is BuzzFeed’s new longform editor

BuzzFeed | Poynter | Paid Content
Former Spin Editor Steve Kandell will edit BuzzFeed’s longform content, the publication announced Monday. In a press release, Kandell said “the conversation-provoking longform journalism and profiles that have long been a staple of magazines are as vital as they’ve ever been, and I’m thrilled to help make this kind of writing a working part of the social web at BuzzFeed.”

Last month, Caitlin Johnston wrote about the buzz surrounding BuzzFeed’s advertisement for this job and suggested “the addition of longform stories to a site that posts photos of NFL players who look like Muppets can be jarring.” But BuzzFeed Executive Editor Doree Shafrir told her, “Why should we take for granted that a sort of quote, unquote ‘longform,’ serious piece won’t be shared on social media, as if the two things can’t exist in one ecosystem?” Read more


Spin magazine to go bimonthly

Spin will publish only six issues in 2012, down from 11 this year. The music magazine also plans to cut its rate base to 350,000 to 450,000, “an acknowledgment that the Web is replacing print for its mainly young, male readership,” reports Lucia Moses. Spin Media CEO Alan Nichols tells her the decision was more about responding to changing reader habits than cutting costs. “It’s right-sizing for print,” he says. Moses writes:

While cutting back on print, Spin has been ramping up digitally. Earlier this year, it introduced a $1.99 iPad app called Spin Play, featuring a streaming playlist. In 2012, it plans to redesign Spin.com with a greater focus on reviews, blogs, and news.

Earlier: Young woman cries until she passes out after failing to get Spin internship Read more


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