September 15, 2014

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.”

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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