Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Remaking Maclean's in his own image

The Ken Whyte stamp is being well and truly put on Maclean's with the severance of virtually his entire senior editorial management: longtime Executive Editors Michael Benedict and Bob Levin and Art Director Donna Braggins. The terminations were effective close of business on Tuesday.

Levin, characterized by former Editor Anthony (Tony Two Names) Wilson-Smith as someone who is "exacting, obstreperous and insistent" and a real sports nut to boot, returned to work full time only last year after fighting, and apparently winning, a bout against cancer. He is highly respected by the Maclean's staff as a fierce defender of editorial integrity.

Benedict was the consummate manager, a Maclean's "lifer", doing the critical but unpopular work of negotiating the magazine's contract and grievance process with the Communications Workers' Union (Maclean's is one of Canada's few, unionized magazine workplaces.) He also edited anchor special sections like the Maclean's Honour Roll.

Braggins, who has been working
part-time on her Masters Degree at York University, came to Maclean's after a stellar track record at Canadian Business, which went biweekly on her watch. At Maclean's, she led the most comprehensive redesign of the magazine in many years, right down to commissioning a typeface specially designed for the magazine. All was not smooth sailing between her and the previous editor, however and it seems, with the new one. (The truism that everyone thinks he's an art director apparently holds true.)

The changes are being positioned as a 'reallocation of resources' rather than cost-cutting, which is a signal that Whyte is going to fill at least two of these senior positions with people who suit him. This process has already started; on June 10 Steve Maich was promoted to be Senior Editor as well as National Business Columnist (announced concurrently with the appointment of Luiza Savage as contributing editor in Washington).

(In addition to the senior newsroom management changes, all but two staffers of the research department are also being turfed, which means effectively that Maclean's will henceforth only be fact-checking problematic stories. According to Mastheadonline
let go was chief of research Valerie Marchant and researcher-reporters Leah Bowness, Robert Hoshowsky, Michael MacLean, Karin Marley and Michael Snider.)

Maich joined Maclean's in July, 2004, as National Business columnist after three years at the National Post (where he worked for Whyte) and Bloomberg News. (His columns have taken a decided turn to the right, which seems to suit Whyte.)

Savage is a Yale and Harvard-educated Canadian who has been a Washington correspondent for The New York Sun and has reported for the Ottawa Citizen and the National Post.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Update July 11 -- Maclean's have a help wanted ad in Masthead online. They're advertising for a new art director.

6:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a former staffer, and have quite a few stories about the place. Stay tuned.

9:11 pm  

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