The New York Observer’s Zeke Turner writes today about Forbes editorial overlord Lewis D’Vorkin, who was installed as the magazine’s chief product officer in May as part of its acquisition of D’Vorkin’s freelance blogging startup, True/Slant.
The gist of the piece is that Forbes staffers are trying to adjust, perhaps skeptically and reluctantly, to “D’Vorkin’s controversial views on the business of journalism,” as well as to the uncertainty of how things will play out now that he’s in charge.
Mr. D’Vorkin, recently installed as Forbes‘ chief product officer, thinks of stories as product. And the most efficient way to churn out and make money from this product is to create a more efficient editing process with fewer layers. “Moving forward, when I look at an operation like Forbes, I look at a mixture of a full-time staff base and hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of freelance contributors. It’s that blend,” Mr. D’Vorkin said.
Not all of Mr. D’Vorkin’s new journalism ideas are being embraced by the Forbes staff. One high-level editor who has been with the paper since the ’90s said that while there seems to be a clear strategy for the magazine, the staff isn’t clear on how it will affect them.
Additionally, there are a few things D’Vorkin doesn’t address in the piece:
1. The recent resignation (or perhaps forced resignation?) of executive editor/Forbes.com editor Paul Maidment, who apparently didn’t see eye to eye with D’Vorkin on the direction of the website. What exactly did they disagree on?
2. The lingering rumours that D’Vorkin is planning a round of “ruthless” editorial layoffs. Staffers have been bracing for this, but is there any truth to it? It certainly seems like a plausible scenario once these “thousands” of new freelancers come on board.
Sources who’ve worked with D’Vorkin in the past characterise him as gothy and brooding. (Though he counters: “You know what in the ’80s, it was New York, I wore a lot of black.”) He even earned the nickname Darth D’Vorkin, as the title of The Observer piece suggests.
Now it’s just a matter of waiting to see if he lives up to that.
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