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Guide to the Time Inc. Magazine Development Group Records
1967-1987, 2003
 MS 3009-RG 40

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Holly Deakyne

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on September 09, 2020
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Historical Note

While Time Inc. constantly explored ideas for new magazines since its inception, it did not establish an official department for magazine development until February 1973 after the closure of Life. The Magazine Development Group (MDG) was originally staffed with the former  Life employees. The initial group lasted through 1978 and disbanded after it successfully revived  Life as a monthly magazine, shifting much of the staff back to Life. The magazines developed and launched by the first MDG included  People and  Life Special Reports. The second group began around 1981 and lasted until corporate restructuring of the magazine group in early 1987.

MAGAZINE DEVELOPMENT GROUP (1973 TO 1978)

According to a February 1983 memorandum from Editorial Director Ralph Graves to Vice President of Magazines Kelso Sutton, prior to the creation of the MDG, new magazines such as Life and  Sports Illustrated were created via task force. Corporate Editorial appointed former chief of the news service Richard Clurman to a special post to investigate new magazine development ideas in February 1969. This same year, vice president and former Managing Editor of  Time Otto Fuerbringer headed "newspaper exploration" at the corporate level which involved development of a wire service (never realized) and acquisition of newspaper publishing groups. In February 1971, executive vice president Bernard Auer and corporate Editorial Director Louis Banks invited Fuerbringer to join a newly formed magazine development task force. The existence of this task force was announced to sales staff by August, and began producing dummies for  Camera Life (later  Camera Month) and  View by December. In mid-1972, Don Sider joined the task force as a special assistant to Fuerbringer regarding new magazine and newspaper evaluations.

A February 1973 memorandum from Editor-in-Chief Hedley Donovan and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Andrew Heiskell to then Corporate Editor Graves discusses the establishment of a department to develop new magazines with Fuerbringer as the editor and Garry Valk as the publisher. The desire for this department was prompted by the successful development of Money by the task force. The memorandum begins: "Time Inc. is emphatically interested in starting new magazines…It would be highly desirable if we could start two or three more new magazines during 1973-1975." Once established, the new MDG took over editorial and publishing for  Money, along with continuing work on any other magazines still in development. The new magazines under consideration in early 1973 were:  Camera Month (which may have morphed into the monthly  Life according to later MDG editor Marshall Loeb),  View (which evolved into  People also according to Loeb),  Religion & Ethics,  Well (a health magazine), and a an untitled magazine for women. Initial MDG staff included: Peter Hanson, Dick Thomas, John Crandall, Winston "Tony" Cox, Philip Kunhardt, John Loengard, and Richard Stolley, along with Fuerbringer and Valk. While Valk is initially called the Publisher as head of the business side, his title is later changed to Director.

The MDG produced weekly reports sent to overseeing executive vice president Arthur Keylor and by the end of 1973, these reports focused on People,  Money, and  Life Special Reports. According to a 1983 interview by Graves of Fuerbringer, Kunhardt, and Stolley (relayed in memorandum to Editor-in-Chief Henry Grunwald), work on the  Life Special Reports immediately after the closure of  Life, with Kunhardt as the managing editor and John Loengard as the picture editor. This interview also stated that Kunhardt and Loengard were the editor and picture editor, respectively, for  Camera Month, and Stolley was editor for  View. According to Fuerbringer, Heiskell suggested they begin work on  People in May 1973. While this interview does not say that  View became  People, Stolley also was the first  People Managing Editor. Kunhardt stated they were working on  View and  People concurrently.

The MDG successfully launched People magazine in March 1974, and produced two  Life Special Reports per year, and revived  Life as a monthly publication. Records show that the MDG continued to work on the women's magazine, with the working title  Woman, through at least the end of 1977. Correspondence to Associate Director Stephen LaRue states that  Ad Age reported him saying in the December 12, 1977 issue that MDG was tabling the idea.  People and  Money remained under the direction of the MDG until it disbanded in 1978, then they became independent departments.

MAGAZINE DEVELOPMENT GROUP (1981 TO 1986)

After the disbanding of the first MDG, Time Inc. did not stop developing new magazines. Discover and  TV-Cable Week were created via task force between 1979 and 1982.

A July 1981 memorandum from Editor-in-Chief Grunwald to all staff announced the reestablishment of the MDG with Executive Editor of Time-Life Books Dave Maness heading the editorial side and Vice President of Magazines Lawrence Crutcher heading the business side. Other staff included Frank Lalli and Barbara Howell as editors. A 1982 chart of new magazines under development were: TV-Cable Week,  MoneyLetter,  International Business,  Washington Weekly,  America,  Picture Week,  Quality, and  Together along with acquisition possibilities. The second MDG revived work on the magazine for women, which was titled  Flash at one point.

At the end of 1983, Grunwald and President and CEO J. Richard Munro announced the expansion of the MDG along with new editor Marshall Loeb and new publisher Bruce Barnet. The expansion included the possibility of acquiring magazines along with developing them.

By early 1985, the MDG decided to focus primarily on Picture Week, according to Loeb in an interview with the  New York Times. He also stated about half of the MDG staff had transferred out of the department. In 1985, the MDG produced the one-shot magazine  Home Office with all advertising provided by IBM. By the end of 1985, the MDG went through a restructuring along with the rest of Time Inc. which seemed to centralize all publishing in a management group. In August 1986,  Jack O'Dwyers Newsletter announced the impending launch of  Leisure, a magazine edited by Fuerbringer, and that  Quality would begin sales in November. It does not appear that either of these magazines made it to market. In late 1986, testing for  Picture Week ended without a launch of the magazine. In January 1987, after Reginald Brack took over as president of the magazine group, the  Wall Street Journal reported that Time Inc. restructured its magazine group and disbanded the MDG. Time Inc. halted production on  Quality,  New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Real Estate and  Leisure in order to focus on the company's existing magazines and joint ventures with other publishers.

POST MAGAZINE DEVELOPMENT GROUP

In early 1985, while still trying to launch Picture Week, Time Inc. acquired as a subsidiary Southern Progress Corp., the publisher of  Southern Living. This was the first time Time Inc. purchased instead of created a magazine.

After the closure of the MDG, Time Inc. introduced several new magazines developed independently by various departments throughout the company and invested in existing publications. Southern Progress Corp. launched Cooking Light in August 1986.  Sports Illustrated staff developed and launched  Sports Illustrated for Kids in the beginning of 1989 to celebrate its anniversary.

People television critic Jeff Jarvis and the CFO of the Magazine Group Michael Klingensmith began development via a task force of Entertainment Weekly in 1988 with the first issue announced in February 1990. Jarvis stated in a UPI interview that it was created without a huge development staff.

Magazine development also continued through the new business units Time Publishing Ventures (TPV), established in June 1986, and later Time Inc. Ventures (TIV), established in August 1992. Time Inc. described TPV as the new unit handling "magazine development as well as specialty and regional magazines" with Christopher Meigher as the president and chief executive. Its first new magazine release was Martha Stewart Living in November 1990. TPV also became a part owner of the existing publications  Working Woman (satisfying Time Inc.'s desire for a women's magazine) and  Hippocrates.

TIV was a new subsidiary for all new business developments beyond magazines with TPV becoming a unit within TIV handling regional and special interest magazine businesses. In 1995 Time Inc. Ventures was disbanded as a unit, and Time Inc. fully decentralized development responsibilities.

OTHER INTERESTING FACTS

In 1980 a reader suggested a version of Sports Illustrated for children which was declined. This suggestion is in Ralph Graves' files in RG 6. Corporate Editorial Records. Nine years later Time Inc. did publish  Sports Illustrated for Kids.

In 1982, according to a memorandum from Graves to Grunwald, an advertising director from Apple pitched a popular computer magazine idea to Time Inc.

In 1999, Time Inc. collaborated on a short-lived magazine with Starbucks called Joe.

Citations:

Carlson, Walter. "Loeb sees 'no rush to prove we still have the magic' for winners." Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, Apr. 1984.

Carmody, Deirdre. "THE MEDIA BUSINESS; A People Magazine Offshoot From Time Inc."  New York Times, 17 Mar. 1994.

"Publishing and Editorial Management Changes Announced at Time Inc." PR Newswire, 16 Nov. 1995.

Rothenberg, Randall. "THE MEDIA BUSINESS: Advertising; New Unit Established By Time Inc. Magazine." New York Times, 23 May 1990.

Selinger, Iris Cohen. "Go West, young boomers, Time Inc. follows." Adweek Western Edition, 17 Sept. 1990.

"Three Magazines Tested by Time Inc." Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter, 20 August 1986.

Time Inc. Corporate Editorial Records, MS 3009-RG 6, New-York Historical Society.

"Time Inc. Decides to Sell Discover." New York Times, 22 May 1987.

"Time Inc. makes top personnel changes in accordance with its restructuring program." PR Newswire, 21 Nov. 1985.

Time Inc. Reference Files, MS 3009-RG 3, New-York Historical Society.

"Time Inc. Restructures Magazine Group, Disbands Development Unit to Cut Costs." Wall Street Journal, 1 January 1987.

Time Inc. Subject Files, MS 3009-RG 1, New-York Historical Society.

"Time Inc. Ventures New Name of Time Inc. Unit." PR Newswire, 27 Aug. 1992.

"Time's Entertainment Weekly to debut next year." UPI Archive: Financial, 11 July 1989.

"Time's Plans For Magazine." New York Times, 14 Mar. 1985.