In the past three weeks Michael Wolff‘s Adweek has attempted to launch itself into the consciousness of New York media with a series of hit pieces penned by a journalist named Dylan Byers.
Taken together one would be forgiven for concluding that Wolff is in fact attempting to parrot Gawker…circa 2007.
Which is entirely legitimate. When Gawker went national a few years back it left a New York City shaped hole in sharp, snarky, gossipy media coverage that has been partially filled by Page Six (which otherwise might have lost its hold on the niche) and may yet be filled by the new Spiers-led New York Observer, which dropped the ball (to put it mildly) back in 2008 when they neglected to get on the Internet.
In case you missed any of it here is a short summup of what we’ve seen from Adweek so far:
Who and What Is Rachel Sterne?: New York’s new digital officer is young and pretty but why is she being paid so much money when a quick glance at her resume reveals she is really just good at making connections.
Elizabeth Spiers and N.Y. Observer: Married in Hell?: Elizabeth Spiers is young and successful, but why is she being given the Observer to run when a quick glance at her resume reveals she has had so many jobs.
And just as readers were beginning to wonder whether the Byers/Wolff (there seems to be a vague assumption Byers is merely a lackey for Wolff’s media vendettas…if not this is one helluva way to intro yourself to the NYC media world…though not necessarily bad) raison d’etre was merely to brand successful young media women as totally unqualified along came yesterday’s takedown of the NYO president Christopher Barnes whom everyone apparently hates (I have been told this one may not been quite so far off the mark).
You get the picture.
However! Far more interesting than Byers’ pieces, which are a bit transparent in their goal, is the comments section that accompanies them! So far they have featured a bit of a who’s who of New York Media, all of whom apparently are only too eager to once again have a comments section to air their own Wolff misgivings [see a sampling below].
So kudos to Wolff for proving that even badly done New York media gossip is alive and well. Elizabeth Spiers can take heart from this discovery! Not that long ago this is what the NYO did well…now she can rest-assured the audience for it has not completely decamped to Tumblr and Twitter land.
And now to the comments. If you’ve made it this far probably you don’t need to be warned again that this is very insidery New York media.
Colin Nagy: Since you didn’t find anyone else to go on the record, I will in the comments! I think Rachel is smart and knows everyone. And, it is probably good to have a hustler in this role rather than a formally trained policy person.
Caroline McCarthy: Agreed. I’ve known Rachel for years and while I was initially surprised that they chose someone so young and relatively inexperienced, she shows great potential as a dealmaker. When the initial job posting for this position came out, I feared they’d pick someone with an MBA, a traditional corporate consulting background, and absolutely no finger to the pulse on what New York’s technology community can offer to the city. Can’t see that being beneficial.Really bad call on the city’s part not to hire someone who has worked for years in government to get them to innovate in the digital world. :) Sounds like you were holding picket signs outside Kathie Black’s nomination as well. Outside perspective can only help!
Anthony De Rosa: Rachel’s skills make her uniquely qualified for this position. The author of this article doesn’t seem to have any understanding of what it will take for someone in the position of CDO to be successful. If the city had gone the direction the author suggests it would have been a disaster and ultimately failed. Rachel’s appointment means we may actually get someone who can fulfil the duties a Chief Digital Officer is expected to perform.
Rachel Sklar: If this writer had really done his research he’d know that Rachel moves easily across many different pockets of the industry and overlapping industries, and at many levels, making things happen in Silicon Alley lofts or Aspen Institute pow-wows or White House meetups – with contacts from literally around the world through Ground Report. She can play with the kids and the grownups and the makers and the managers, and she has done so so effectively thus far that this is the first negative thing I have *ever* read about her. The fact that this writer chose to publish a snarky, jealous, sniping anonymous comment rather do the work to reach out to people who have, you know, *worked* with her says more about his slipshod style than any defecit in her. Who and what is Dylan Byers?
Paula Froelich: This is appalling. That Ad Week would stoop so low as to publish something by Michael Wolff – who has long had a feud (and often been on the losing end) with Spiers – and is the worst gossip I know (Irony Alert! I used to deputy edit Page Six, which Spiers was NOT a tipster for, she was actually a freelance writer, regardless, gossip is very hard to write – and Wollf has never worked very hard at anything except to shellac his own name). This article is based in personal grudge slinging, not fact. Spiers has been very successful in creating companies, and helping companies flourish. Just ask Conde Nast, b5 media, her original colleagues at Deadhorse, which, if she had stayed on (and adhered to her original proposal instead of backtracking) would have sold for millions. Shame on you Ad Week.
Elizabeth Spiers (from her Tumblr): Aside from the fact that the piece is full of factual inaccuracies (I’d like to know who these staffers are who work on other Kushner projects, because they don’t work for me) and distortions, it seems as though this purported advertising trade mag has never been anywhere near an actual ad sales operation, where doing things like posting sales numbers publicly is pretty standard. But then again, they recently gave a megaphone to a certain washed-up columnist who now works for them because he doesn’t even have the courtesy to fail *upward*, so he could trash me anonymously as “an ex-colleague who worked with her at New York mag in 2003.”
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