Michael Wolff is proud of his latest work.
The Vanity Fair contributing editor and Newser founder relaunched Adweek — both the print and digital sides with Mediaweek and Brandweek folded into the main book — on Monday to largely positive reviews.
The columnist and editorial director of Adweek owner Prometheus Global Media has lofty expectations for the new-look publication as it transitions from a traditional trade to, well, something different.
“We are going to be the source of information that is most comprehensibly covering this business,” Wolff told The Wire by phone on Monday afternoon. “I think that we will do it in a way, and as it were, with a voice that commands the most attention and will be, at least to me, the most interesting.”
“We are looking at businesses that are supported by advertising, businesses that do not exist without advertising.”
The debut issue features a cover story detailing the transition of advertising business from Madison Ave to Brooklyn. Wolff called “Talent Takes the F Train” a “perfect” example of the type of story he wants to see in Adweek because “it is about the advertising business, but it is at the same time about the phenomenal change in the advertising business; new people, new methods, and in this instance, new point of view.”
In essence, Wolff is attempting to make the magazine splashier, to take it from the trade world and appeal to a wider audience while retaining the traditional advertising base. He and Prometheus president and former Conde Nast publisher Richard Beckham are building a brand for the new era. In some ways, it resembles what already exists at their former employer. Call it the Condefication of Adweek.
“I’m from Conde Nast too, and lots and lots and lots of people here who Richard has brought in are from Conde too,” he said. “I would say one of the last things people from Conde Nast want to think of themselves as doing is being in the trade magazine business. So I think that is one of the DNA differences in the way this company is now constituted.”
“Having said that, I think Richard’s analysis and an analysis that you find throughout the publishing industry is that trade publishing as it was once construed is a pretty difficult proposition at this point.”
If nothing else, one of Adweek‘s trademarks will be as an extension of Wolff’s combative personality. In Dylan Byers, the editorial director has a reporter built in his own image. The writer recently penned a takedown of Elizabeth Spiers and produced “NYC’s Top VC Fred Wilson Is Rich… and Grumpy” for this week’s issue. The venture capitalist took offence over Twitter, but Wolff stood by the story and his staffer’s work overall.
“I don’t think he does hit pieces. I think he’s done lots of very appreciative pieces also so far. I think it’s a case-by-case basis,” he said. “Dylan is a good reporter. If somebody is full of baloney, he points it out. And by the way, I don’t think the Fred Wilson piece was a negative piece. I think Fred is a little quarrelsome, an attribute Dylan got, but I also think that he also took Fred very seriously and pointed out that Fred is the man in New York.”
In other words, expect plenty more of this type of story as Wolff continues to shove Adweek toward relevance.