Under Siege, Magazine Industry Pauses to Honor Martha, Moore
MPA presents lifetime achievement awards to Stewart, Time Inc. CEO.
NEW YORKâThere were no mentions of âlayoffsâ at the Magazine Lifetime Achievement Awards. Not at Time Inc. or CondĂ© Nast or Readerâs Digest.
For any industry besieged by cutbacks, closures and plummeting revenues, the 300 or so executives gathered here at the Plaza Hotel Thursday to honor Time Inc. CEO Ann Moore and Martha Stewart seemed to be taking a break from that harsh reality, and were making a painstaking effort to stay upbeat.
SEE RELATED SLIDEHOW: MPA Lifetime Achievement Awards
In an unscripted introduction, former Time Warner chairman Dick Parsons, joked about his tenure as CEO as the worst in the companyâs history. âWe managed to vaporize $200 million in shareholder value,â he said. âToday, that seems like nothing.â
Parsons, who is set to become the chairman of Citigroup, described Time Inc. as an âold boys clubâ and Ann Mooreâs improbable climb up the corporate ladder.
âShe was relentlessly optimistic,â he said. âAnn is the most complete and effective magazine executive I know.â
In a videotaped tribute, Jeffrey Bewkes, Parsonsâ successor, quipped that getting a lifetime achievement award âmeans youâre about to die.â
Moore, who accepted the Henry Johnson Fisher award, outlined the 10 reasons sheâs optimistic about the industryâs future (no. 1: âWeâre not in the newspaper businessâ), the need for editors ("good, fact-based information is not going away") and recalled the âgood âol daysâ of three martini lunchesâwhen her office at Time Inc. included a âfully-stocked bar with fifths of every liquor from every advertiser.â As an industry, she said, âweâve sobered up.â
Late last year, Time Inc. laid off as many as 600 employees in a broad restructuring, part of what Moore said Thursday was âgetting our house in order.â
'Yes, Even Some Straight Men'
Today show host Matt Lauer, introducing Stewartâs entry into the Magazine Hall of Fame, joked about Stewartâs past. âI commend [the MPA] for ignoring your persistent steroid use,â Lauer said. (There was no mention of the imClone stock scandal nor Stewartâs subsequent jail term.)
Lauer spoke of Marthaâs universal appeal among women, men âand, yes, even some straight men.â
Of his friendship with Stewart, a frequent guest on the Today show, he added: âThe only thing we havenât done is have sexâand if you wouldâve just put down the glue gun that mightâve happened, too.â
Stewart recalled her struggle to find a backer to launch Martha Stewart LivingâSi Newhouse founded the prototype but ultimately declinedâand her decision to buy the magazine back from Time Inc. after an executive confronted her about working from her Westport, Connecticut home, rather than Manhattan. Said Stewart: âI wasnât good about following the hierarchal chain of command.â