Brown, Kliger Recall the Magazine Industry's Steroid Era
A report from the Lifetime Achievement Awards luncheon.
‚ÄúI think of my career in magazines as three weddings and a funeral," said Tina Brown, summing up her editorial career at Tatler, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker‚ÄĒand the high-profile failure of Talk.
Brown‚Äôs remarks came during the Magazine Publisher‚Äôs of America‚Äôs Lifetime Achievement Awards, the magazine industry‚Äôs equivalent of a Hall of Fame induction, Wednesday afternoon at a luncheon in New York.
Dressed in black leather, Brown said her tenure at The New Yorker (1992-1996) was a particularly transformative experience. ‚ÄúThe goal was not just to infuse new life into a literary jewel with aging demographics, but to preserve all that was splendid about its heritage too,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúThat was the trickiest part, but changing The New Yorker changed me. It was a daily intellectual workout that was tougher than the gym.‚ÄĚ
And, despite the heavy-hitting editorial resume, Brown denied ever being ‚Äújuiced.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI have never taken steroids,‚ÄĚ Brown joked. ‚ÄúThe writers did, me‚Äďnever. I belong in this Hall of Fame, OK?‚ÄĚ (In a video tribute, the comedian Steve Martin called Brown one of his favorite people ‚Äúto get high with.‚ÄĚ)
IAC chairman Barry Diller, who introduced Brown, delivered the line of the luncheon, recalling her unofficial nickname, ‚ÄúStalin in high heels.‚ÄĚ
John Griffin, National Geographic Society president and current MPA chairman, introduced the afternoon‚Äôs other award recipient, Jack Kliger, the president and chief executive officer of Hachette Filipacchi Media. ‚ÄúDuring these past years as vice-chairman and then chairman of the MPA, Jack has done what few leaders are able to do,‚ÄĚ Griffin said. ‚ÄúHe has led an impressive effort to change the framework of the discussion in your industry, to focus on the core issues and to outline a path for the future.‚ÄĚ
In front of a familiar crowd of 500 magazine executives, Kliger paid tribute to his late colleague, Cond√© Nast president Steve Florio, who died in December. But Kliger, known for fire and brimstone speeches during his tenure as MPA chairman, was in a reflective, if celebratory, mood.
"When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, I read magazines that talked to me about the things I loved. Of course, I kept some copies of Playboy under my bed for the terrific articles," Kliger said. "But i didn‚Äôt know anything about the world of publishing that produced these great magazines.¬† I didn‚Äôt know about the bright, creative people one could meet and the wonderful places one could see."¬†
Added Kliger: ‚ÄúOur industry is under pressure to evolve, but that's okay.‚ÄĚ
PHOTO: Doug Goodman Photography