Long-time Forbes Magazine Group president and publisher Jim Berrien will step down at the end of the year. Berrien will become chairman of Forbes magazine. Forbes will consider “a variety of scenarios” to replace Berrien, a rep tells MediaWeek, which provides some context:
On the advertising front, the year has has been tough going for all magazine categories, and that includes the personal finance/business genre. The category is down 2.4 per cent year to date to 1,462 ad pages, per the Mediaweek Monitor. Forbes, through Aug. 11, is down 17.8 per cent compared to the same period the year prior. Rival Fortune is actually up 4.5 per cent to 1,379, although the Time Inc. biweekly has had its own troubles of late, shifting Fortune Small Business to the company’s custom publishing unit.
Berrien’s departure follows on the heels of other top execs in magazine publishing who are either taking on more strategic roles in the company or are exiting altogether, including Hachette Filipacchi Media president/CEO Jack Kliger, who after nine years as CEO, will assume the role of HFM U.S. chairman as well. In addition, Longtime Newsweek president and worldwide publisher Greg Osberg will also leave his job this fall to return to the digital media space.
“As many of you know, the media business has seen a lot of change over the last few years–not all of it good,” Berrien said in an email to Forbes staff. “What I love most, high-level selling of ideas and deal-making, has been challenged by an ever-growing influence of media agencies doing their best to commoditize the extraordinary products and services under the Forbes brand.”
In his email, Berrien says he’ll be spending more time on his trusteeship at Connecticut College and his board membership at Share Our Strength, an organisation working to wipe out child hunger.
Disclosure: SAI’s Peter Kafka and I have previously worked for Forbes Media.
Berrien’s full email:
As many of you know, the media business has seen a lot of change over the last few years–not all of it good. What I love most, high-level selling of ideas and deal-making, has been challenged by an ever-growing influence of media agencies doing their best to commoditize the extraordinary products and services under the Forbes brand.
You might also know that there is a big side of me that yearns to spend more time focusing on things that I personally hold important. These include my trusteeship at Connecticut College–a role that will expand over the next year as I become Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The work I do as a board member of Share Our Strength, an organisation devoted to wiping out childhood hunger in the U.S., is also extremely important, and it frustrates me that I end up giving it short shrift. Candidly, I am of the mind that there is a good deal that can and needs to be done in the world, and I am more and more persuaded that my abilities can be more meaningfully applied in these areas.
A couple of medical near misses, both for me and members of my family, have reminded me that, as Malcolm Forbes said, “We are all too soon over and out.” In other words, time is precious.
Having spent a good part of the summer mulling these things over–and talking with Mary Jane and the girls, as well as with Tim and Steve–I have decided to make a life change.
I will continue to work at Forbes over the next 18 months, focusing on what I like to do most, supporting the team in working with our key clients, while beginning a transition that will allow me to focus more on the areas I just mentioned, and possibly testing entrepreneurial skills that nine years of reading Forbes Magazine have awakened in me. This will also ensure that our business continues to run smoothly, and that we achieve the results that we all want.
And Steve Forbes’ all-staff email:
After nine years of leading the Forbes Magazine Group as President and Publisher, Jim Berrien has decided to step down from the day-to-day operations of the group at the end of the year and assume the position of Chairman of Forbes magazine, effective January 2009.
Jim’s tenure has been impressive, and his leadership and creative initiatives have secured the number-one position for Forbes in our competitive business category for the past six years, since 2002. We continue to remain in that position through the first half of this year.
Jim’s success not only was in beating the competition in ad pages, but he also succeeded in identifying and bringing to Forbes some of the best talent in the industry. Jim also championed the launch of new publications over the years, when many companies were folding their magazines. In the past 18 months, Jim and his group launched ForbesLife Executive Woman and ForbesLife MountainTime, which began publishing last month. Next month, ForbesLife will publish its newly redesigned magazine, capturing Jim’s belief in the expanding luxury lifestyle market.
Though Forbes will continue to benefit from Jim’s creative, marketing and sales savvy, he will be spending time on his pro bono board work that is very important to him personally.
On behalf of the Forbes family, I want all of you to know how deeply grateful we are to Jim for his tireless and successful efforts on behalf of the company and for us personally. Please join us in wishing him well as he expands his commitments to more than just Forbes.
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