Did red ink really grease the sackings of Spin editors Michael Hirschorn and Craig Marks last week? Magnates at Miller Publishing which bought the magazine from Bob Guccione Jr. for $43 million in 1997 have cited disappointing financial returns. But industry figures show Spin posting modest gains in both ad revenues and circulation.
"Miller paid so much for the title that they couldn't have hoped to make it back with the magazine they bought," says one Spin insider. "No publisher is ever going to come right out and say 'I want my magazine to be dumber,' but that's exactly what they're asking for."
While several staffers admit squabbles occasionally erupted over Hirschorn's perceived hipster bias, the ousted editor contends he'd received largely positive feedback from the executive suite.
"They had some specific complaints here and there, and those were addressed," Hirschorn says. "Everyone had essentially signed off on the direction the magazine was taking."
Spin's new navigational course will be charted by Alan Light, a former editor at sister publication Vibe, who insists there will not be a "bottom-to-top overhaul."
"People who haven't spoken to me seem to think they know what my agenda is, but in all the discussions I've had here, the word mainstream has never even come up," insists Light. "Michael did a great job of making the magazine read better, but I feel I just have to focus it more."
That focus will tilt back toward music coverage which, interestingly, Light's predecessor says he was given a "direct mandate" to de-emphasize. "I thought we could sell a youth culture magazine done at a high editorial level to our audience," maintains Hirschorn. "And I feel we did the mistake we made was in failing to sell it to the publishers."
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