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Lonely at the top: blacks are a fraction of top editors at mainstream magazines.

When BLACK ENTERPRISE did its insider review of the magazine industry ("Changing the Face of the Magazine Industry," August 1995), the number of African American chief editors at the largest titles could be counted on one hand. Almost a decade later, the top editorial makeup remains unchanged.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that the magazine industry is less diverse than other media. Blacks are 6.7% of officials and managers in the newspaper business and 7.8% of those in radio and television broadcasting yet constitute only 5.4% of officials and managers in periodicals. And that number is for the entire industry; the numbers in editorial management are worse. Jacklyn Monk, assistant managing editor of Real Simple, is compiling a list of African Americans in top magazine editorial roles for the National Association of Black Journalists. Monk has found only nine top editors--defined by the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) as chief editor, executive editor, or managing editor--among hundreds of mainstream, nonethnic, non urban titles from major publishing houses.

Although more people of color appear in ads, and celebrities like Halle Berry and Beyonce Knowles land the covers of top fashion magazines, the mastheads remain predominantly white. According to findings in Success in the Magazine Industry, a recent study commissioned by the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA), management's approach to diversity is not in race, gender, or ethnicity but in a diversity of perspectives, knowledge, and styles.

Moreover, the study finds that publishers aren't recruiting aggressively at historically black colleges and universities or minority professional associations such as NABJ. Ella L. J. Edmondson Bell, who conducted the MPA study, notes most hiring is still done through word of mouth, thereby reinforcing the status quo. "The rationale persists [that there] just are not enough people of color in circles of 'smart people,'" says Bell, an associate professor at Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College, in the survey findings.

For years, MPA and ASME have encouraged publishing companies to promote diversity in their organizations and in the products they create. In May, ASME elected Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker as its president. Whitaker is the second African American to hold the position; the first, George Curry, was elected in 2000, when be was editor-in-chief of Emerge. Today, Curry is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service.

While achieving parity for minorities in magazines will be a focus, Whitaker says the main argument for diversity is not just equity. "For magazines to be relevant, they have to keep up [with the country's demographic changes,] and you have to see the voice and ideas of people of different backgrounds reflected in magazines," he says.

Whitaker's reasoning would seem to make sense given that industry readership profiles show 84% of African Americans, 80% of Asians, and 75% of Latinos are magazine readers. Still, Whitaker is among a small group of top editors at major publishing houses (see table).

Almost a decade since BE's report, Time Inc. still appears to be the main recruiter and retainer of black talent, having six top black editors among its titles. Before the demise of Vanguarde Media, which published Savoy, Honey, and Heart & Soul, Honey Editor-in-Chief Amy Barnett was hired as managing editor of Teen People, and Savoy Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief Roy Johnson returned to Sports Illustrated as assistant managing editor.

Top black talent remains scarce at Hearst and Conde Nast, two of the nation's leading magazine publishers. Cathleen Black, president of Hearst Magazines and former MPA chairman, was unavailable for comment, as was Ruth Diem, senior vice president of human resources. Letena Lindsay, senior public relations manager, openly communicated that Hearst has six "senior-level" African American editors, though five of them don't meet ASME's definition of a top editor and the sixth is at an ethnic/ urban publication. When asked about its diversity recruitment efforts, Conde Nast's human resources representative said, "That information is kept personal and confidential."

"Many major magazine publishers say they want more diversity," says Curry, "but ... they have to start encouraging people early, at the junior high school level, that this is a career that welcomes them."

Bell, however, finds that there are no incentives for publishers to recruit people of color, and that there are fewer opportunities in the present economy for younger people to be mentored. Outreach efforts may get minorities in at entry level roles, but those efforts haven't changed the landscape at the top.

Conde Nast 18 0
Vanity Fair, GQ, Glamour

Fairchild 6 1
Details, Jane, W Magazine

Hachette Filipacchi 17 0
ELLE, Metropolitan Home

Hearst 18 0
Cosmopolitan, Seventeen

Reader's Digest Association 13 1
Backyard Living, Quick Cooking

Time Inc. 40 6
Time, People, Fortune

The Washington Post Co. 2 1
Newsweek, Budget Travel


Conde Nast -- --
Vanity Fair, GQ, Glamour

Fairchild Carla Shackleford / Jane
Details, Jane, W Magazine Deputy Managing

Hachette Filipacchi -- --
ELLE, Metropolitan Home

Hearst -- --
Cosmopolitan, Seventeen

Reader's Digest Association Donna Banks/ Reader's
Backyard Living, Quick Cooking Assistant Managing Digest

Time Inc. Amy Barnett / Teen People
Time, People, Fortune Managing Editor
 Sheryl Hilliard Money
 Executive Editor
 Angela Burt-Murray / Teen People
 Executive Editor
 Jacklyn Monk / Real Simple
 Assistant Managing
 Roy Johnson / Sports
 Assistant Managing Illustrated
 Janice Simpson / Time
 Assistant Managing

The Washington Post Co. Mark Whitaker / Editor Newsweek
Newsweek, Budget Travel


Additional reporting by Joyce Jones and Christina Morgan ange rates. A
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Title Annotation:Diversity News
Author:Brown, Carolyn M.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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