Last week when long time Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter announced that he was stepping down, it wasn’t a shock to those in media circles. In fact, his departure has been a topic of discussion for a few years now and the question was never if, but when. Well the when will be at the end of this year at which time a new editor in chief will be installed. For months now, one name has been popping up time and time again as a possible replacement for Mr. Carter. Back in February, Janice Min who sat atop Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, stepped down from that role. Following her stepping down or leading up to it, she was spotted more than once at Conde Nast headquarters in Manhattan around the time rumors started to circulate again about Mr. Carter’s imminent departure. Her visit to Conde’s offices naturally sparked some internal and external speculation about what she was there for and who she was meeting with. It is worth mentioning that during this same time, Conde Nast was exploring a possible acquisition of Hollywood Reporter. But that didn’t seem to stop the speculation. The one rumor that ran wild was her being there to talk with Conde’s top brass about taking the helm at Vanity Fair. Its almost a no-brainer said one individual. Vanity Fair is deeply rooted in Hollywood with its mega Oscar party and its successful “New Establishment” list as well as the accompanying “New Establishment” summit which features some of the biggest players in tech, media and entertainment. Janice Min is seen as a shoe in to further develop these lucrative areas for the publication as someone deeply rooted in Hollywood herself, especially after her time running Hollywood Reporter where she lead a revival of that brand and music trade Billboard magazine.
When she stepped down from her role as Co-President and Chief Creative Officer at Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group she retained a strategy role at parent company Eldridge Industries as well as a stake in The Hollywood Reporter. Now with Graydon Carter’s resignation from Vanity Fair which according to Lloyd Grove at the Daily Beast, was partly driven by the potential major layoffs on the horizon at Conde Nast that he didn’t want to be a part of, Ms. Min’s name seems to be at the top of the list of his possible replacement. As far as who Graydon Carter thinks should replace him, he said he has an idea but unfortunately for him, he won’t have a hand in that decision. In fact, the next editor will likely be handpicked by non other than Anna Wintour who since taking on the role of overseer of Conde’s publications has been hands off when it came to Vanity Fair. Now with Graydon Carter out, she will likely have full over site of the publication. As Lloyd Grove mentioned here, during Graydon Carter’s reign at the magazine he was basically untouchable due to his close relationship with company owner Si Newhouse. Mr. Carter had full autonomy to do what he wanted. However, for the next editor, he/she won’t have that kind of freedom especially with the once freewheeling company tightening its belt. The next editor for Vanity Fair will take the helm at a time in the magazine industry where digital continues to decimate print and where budgets and staff are a fraction of what they used to be. The next editor will also need to be digitally literate with action plans to push content deeper across social platforms and the ability to do more with less. But above all of that, the next editor will need to understand that they are operating within an empire within an empire and Anna Wintour is queen which brings us to this next scenario that doesn’t have Janice Min in it.
Janice Min herself has operated with full autonomy in her previous roles and if she were to join Conde’s editorial ranks she would possibly be working at the pleasure of Anna Wintour. Many of the editorial appointments under Ms. Wintour have been from inside the company. This is no doubt due to the fact the Conde Nast obviously has some of the most talented people in the business. But also because individuals on the inside already know and understand the “order” of things. They know, understand and are embedded in the internal culture and inner workings which eliminates the need for a lengthy adjustment period if any at all. However one could argue that company’s like Conde need to start bringing in fresh blood. But just in case Anna Wintour and her bosses decide they would rather keep it in the family, there will likely be a major shuffling in the editorial ranks that will lead to the appointment of new editors for other Conde titles. Then again, with another planned “restructuring” a shake up in the editorial ranks is happening regardless. Internal names being floated, at least in media circles include the usual suspects like GQ editor in chief Jim Nelson and British GQ editor Dylan Jones. Conde Nast could also simply make a default move and install one of Graydon Carter’s deputies to keep the train running without a pit stop. But with all the speculation that has been hovering over Vanity Fair even before Mr. Carter’s resignation, the money seems to still be on Janice Min.
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