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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Vanilla-colored mags

The New York Observer delves into the issue why the masthead staff of most of the leading magazines resembles the cast of a Woody Allen movie or a "Friends" episode - that is, colorless. Or to quote the results of The New York Observer's survey taken on the diversity (or lack thereof) of editorial staff on some of the major mags: "The results, magazine by magazine, looked like the far end of assorted paint-color chips: ivory, bone, mist."

Here's a quick breakdown (this relates only to editorial staff):

Conde Nast: 85 on staff, 11 of color
Forbes: 116 on staff, 7 of color
New York Magazine: 90 on staff, 6 of color
Rolling Stone: 73 on staff, 4 of color
The Nation: 99 on staff, 8 of color
The New Yorker: 130 on staff, 11 of color
Vanity Fair: 230 on staff, 6 of color

The Observer admits to its own shortcoming (even though it's a newspaper, not a magazine): of their 40 writers and contributors, only 2 are people of color.

The reason for such paltry numbers? Most of the editorial heads declined to discuss or defend. Only Kurt Anderson, creator of Spy and editor of New York in the mid-90s, spoke on the lack of diversity in the industry, calling it "appalling" and offered as a rationale: “We tried to do our best to recruit affirmatively and stuff. And it’s just for all the reasons I’m sure everybody will tell you who is in a position of hiring [people of color] as editors: It’s not easy to remedy, even when there’s the will.”

Betty Cortina, editorial director of Latina, isn't buying that excuse: “These are some of the most strategic and innovative companies in the world, and we can figure out how to do just about anything: how to create another magazine in a market that’s already completely fragmented, how to get magazines to newsstands across the globe, how to bring innovative, creative packages to advertisers who have already seen it all,” she said. “But we can’t figure this out? Come on.”

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 1/12/2006 06:24:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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