Fall 2017 brought a changing of the guard in the magazine industry, with turnover among the senior editorial leadership of some of the biggest titles in American publishing – now extending to include Time Inc. editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs.
She is stepping down from the top spot at the iconic news weekly, effective immediately, publisher Time Inc. announced on Tuesday. No successor has been announced.
Gibbs will continue to serve as editorial director for Time Inc. until the end of this year.
The Time Inc. announcement, which came in response to an inquiry by the New York Post, marks the end of a 32-year-career at Time magazine for Gibbs, who began as a fact-checker before working her way up the editorial ladder to lead what many call the country’s most influential mass-market news magazine.
She succeeded Rick Stengel as managing editor in 2013 — making her the first woman to hold this position, as well as the most prolific, having written more cover stories than any other contributor in the publication’s history.
Gibbs’ tenure has not been untroubled.
Like most consumer magazines, Time has had to contend with a steep, steady decline in print circulation as media consumption has shifted to digital platforms, accompanied by a commensurate drop in print advertising revenues. Both trends were well underway before Gibbs took over, forcing her to make tough decisions about personnel cuts and the allocation of limited resources.
Time’s total circulation fell from 4.1 million in 2006 to 3.3 million in 2012 and 3 million today, according to figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, later the Alliance for Audited Media. Total ad pages fell from 1,447 in 2009 to 1,068 in 2013, according to the Publisher’s Information Bureau, which ceased publishing ad page data in 2014.
Time hasn’t been immune to multiple rounds of layoffs at publisher Time Inc., including the most recent cuts affecting around 300 positions across the company in June.
The magazine’s digital efforts are a bright spot, with the Web site attracting 33 million unique visitors in July, per comScore, but like so many other legacy publishers, digital ads and circ revenues have failed to offset print losses.
In the second quarter of the year, Time Inc. revealed that total ad revenues fell 12% to $374 million, while circ fell 12.3% to $207 million. (The publisher didn’t provide specific figures for Time.)
As noted, Gibbs is just the most recent in a spate of departures at some of the country’s best-known magazines.
Also this week, Robbie Myers, the longtime editor of iconic fashion mag Elle, announced he is stepping down after 17 years on the job. Publisher Hearst said he will be succeeded by Nina Garcia, formerly the high-profile creative director at sister title Marie Claire.
And last week brought news that Graydon Carter will step down as editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair this December, after 25 years at the helm of the entertainment and pop-culture publication. Described by the NYT as a “party host, literary patron, film producer and restaurateur,” Carter is known for unveiling the Watergate leaker Deep Throat in 2005, and creating the star-studded Vanity Fair Oscar party.