Prior to his appointment as Hearst Magazines president in July, Troy Young had made it clear that his loyalty lay with digital.
His preference for editors who were more comfortable with creating easily digestible digital content over those who had dedicated careers to editing print was widely known when he arrived from digital ad agency Say Media in 2013.
Now, according to a report from WWD, Young and his second in command Kate Lewis — who replaced Joanna Coles as Chief Content Officer — are taking stock of the digital talents of staffers.
Currently, Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar are said to be under the duo’s scrutiny, thought WWD reports a Hearst spokeswoman declined to comment.
When Young joined Hearst, he created designated digital editorial teams that reported directly to him rather than print editors. The divide was palpable.
Since then, Young has spent his time diversifying the company’s revenue base. “We sell advertising. We sell content and we sell products. A big percentage of our business is creating content with and for clients … that’s the branded-content business,” he stated to WWD in 2013.
Now, it seems Young is prepared to double-down on his digital gospel as he sifts through Hearst’s editorial output. Numbers, of course, play a huge part in the decision making. Some of the titles and jobs in question may be saved thanks to comScore data.
However, in Young’s universe, even strong numbers won’t save the careers of those whose skill sets are reminiscent of another publishing age. He stated to WWD, regarding his vision for short-form video and its affect on media, that he wants the company to reach a “point where the editor will by necessity be comfortable in documenting the world with video,” mostly to attract advertisers.
“Documenting the world with video” is not what an editor does. Perhaps, that is what an editor now does, but the ruthlessness directed toward those who have built and sustained the very publications Young hopes to lead into the next era is untenable.Yes, the industry is changing, but that doesn’t excuse replacing people, their lives and careers with figures, numbers and refined skill sets. Questions: At what point is publishing still publishing? When does the process become content farming?