MPA Honorees Face Challenges

Usually when an industry awards the achievements of one of its leaders, it means their work is almost done. That will not be the case tonight when the Magazine Publisher’s Association and the American Society of Magazine Editors pays tribute to Edward Lewis and Art Cooper.

GQ editor Cooper was named editor-in-chief in August 1983, becoming only the third top editor since the magazine was founded in 1957. Under Cooper's editorship, the magazine was repositioned from a fashion-focused monthly to a general-interest magazine with an emphasis on reporting and writing. Under Cooper's editorship, GQ has received 27 National Magazine Award nominations and won three Ellies. In 1985, Cooper was selected as Editor of the Year by Adweek, the first Condé Nast editor to receive the honor.

He says he is “deeply honored” by the MPA award because it is the highest honor from his colleagues. He is hardly about to rest on his laurels. The men’s magazine category has changed into a fast paced race for reader attention and newsstand sales. While they don’t directly compete for GQs more sophisticated older demographic, he does see the “laddie” books as a factor.



“The advent of the laddie books has certainly expanded the pie,” he says. “There are far more readers than ever before, and that’s a good thing. What Maxim has done – whether you like it or not – is awesome.”

Don’t expect Cooper to lead GQ into “laddie like” territory. He believes GQ built its audience by attracting good writers and good journalism. While the long from magazine story is under pressure, it will be part of GQ.

“I am proudest of this award because it confirms my belief that long form pieces can still work,” he said. “You don’t want to make too many demands on a reader, but you need to maintain an appropriate mix.”

As the co-founder, publisher and chief executive officer of Essence Communications Partners, Ed Lewis has one of the great entrepreneurial success stories of the last half-century. Lewis began his career in the late 1960s at First National City Bank in New York (now Citibank). At a conference he attended on Blacks in business, sponsored by a Wall Street brokerage firm, the concept of a fashion magazine for Black women was discussed. Lewis left the bank to become the financial manager and later the publisher of Essence. “Before Essence,” declares Lewis, “the Black woman’s contribution to her race, her society and her country had not been examined. Unlike any other publication, ESSENCE has consistently addressed the intelligence, experience and beauty of Black women.”

In October 2000 Essence Communications, Inc., signed an agreement with Time Incto form a joint venture known as Essence Communications Partners. Through the years, Lewis and his partner, Clarence O. Smith, president emeritus of ECP, have diversified and expanded to create divisions focusing on television production, licensing and direct-mail marketing.

The company is an institution. As such—with Lewis at the helm—it has been able to wield a powerful sword. Lewis fights with his words “The Publisher’s Page” and regularly calls on the magazine’s more than eight million readers to realize the significance of a political voice, to help bridge the divide in our communities, and to join in the support of young people.

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