Direct Line: Peter Kaplan on The John Koblin Hire, An iPad App, and WWD’s Future


Well, big media change: John Koblin was hired by longtime former New York Observer editor Peter Kaplan — who is now the editorial director of Fairchild — to go report on media for Women’s Wear Daily. After being assured we were speaking with the actual Peter W. Kaplan (and not one of his many doppelgangers), we spoke with him about Koblin’s hire, and the future of Women’s Wear Daily, including the iPad app currently in development for them.

So, you hired John Koblin? Let’s hear it.

Well, you know, [former WWD media reporter] Nick Axelrod left the paper, so there was a significant seat open in the media desk, and [WWD editor-in-chief] Ed Nardoza told me he wanted somebody great, and I happened to know somebody great. I think that all those guys on [the media desk] are gonna begin to do longer and more nuanced pieces here. John’s an ace, it ought to make the entire pitching rotation better. He’s an amazing reporter, he knows how to write a long piece, and I think that WWD should be that first stop for media reporting in New York City.

On Charlie Rose last summer you talked about the future of publications and how you found the iPad to be a pretty compelling possibility. Is Fairchild developing anything right now?

We are, and it’s gonna happen in two stages. The first that’s gonna happen is with everything that’s in front of the paywall, and the second stage will be a little more complicated. Whatever it is will be very newspaper and media-oriented, and I hope will happen in a month or two. There are a lot of people who pay to read this newspaper and we’ll be developing for them, but the stuff that is in front of the paywall includes the media stuff, and these reporters ought to have a wide readership.

What about longtime Observer art director Nancy Butkus, who you recently hired over there? Is she working on the app at all?

Nancy has an incredible consumer magazine eye, and I think she’s gonna be looking at a lot of magazines and design aspects of the app, and some startups that we might be doing, and making them look media-worthy. She has incredible integrity for design.

So is Women’s Wear Daily trending more towards being a consumer magazine and away from an industry-only read now?

I think we have two readerships here: one of them is a deep industry, deep trade intelligencia that has been reading WWD for 100 years, and there’s another readership that John Fairchild stoked to a very very high level that’s the civillian readership that cares about media, and society, and style, aside from the one that cares about retail and fashion, and I hope we’ll be speaking to them as well.