Stuart Elliott — Former NY Times Ad Columnist Offers His Take

stuart elliottEarlier this month, Stuart Elliott, the New York Times’s advertising guru, took a buyout after 23 years at the paper. Now that he has more free time, Elliott, who Ad Age called “massively influential,” stopped by City College recently to entertain our MCA students with his wit and wisdom. 

Journalism student Jose Cardoso covered Elliott’s “Lunch with Leaders” presentation. 

Last month, former New York Times columnist Stuart Elliott held a special Q&A presentation in Shepard Hall at The City College of New York. He spoke to the audience a little bit about himself, answered student questions, and discussed the future of the digital media.

First things first: Why did Elliott leave the Times? “The buyout offers were structured so that the longer you had worked at The New York Times the more lucrative the buyout offer was,” said Elliott. “For somebody like myself who had worked at the Times for more than 20 years, it turned out to be like they say in ‘The Godfather’ an offer that I couldn’t refuse.”

Elliott has seen many changes in the media industry over the years, including a new generation of “digital natives.” “That generation is growing up without ever having known a day without tablets,” he said.

Even an expert like Elliott isn’t sure where the advertising-marketing business is headed in five years.  “I’m a lousy predictor,” he said. “I thought aol would be like the biggest thing.”

Still, he added: “Technology is going to continue to remake the advertising and marketing business whether it’s the agencies and how they make ads or how the clients want the adds created. There’s going to be much more of an involvement with public relations.”

He offered some parting advise to the roomful of students. “Start putting down some digital footprints,” said Elliott, “but be very careful about what you do and say in the social media. “Clean up your act kids!”


Time Inc.: Change or Die

trio.Cover.inddLast Wednesday was a dark day in journalism land. As expected, Time Inc. hemorrhaged six percent of its global workforce, leaving about 500 researchers, reporters, editors and designers out in the cold.  The reason for the bloodbath is clear–change or die. Time Inc. CEO Laura Lang stated it clearly in a memo to the company’s 8,000 employees. “With the significant and ongoing changes in our industry, we must continue to transform our company into one that is leaner, more nimble and more innately multi-platform.”

At several of the magazines, heads rolled at the top. Ellen Kunes, editor in chief of Health Magazine, received a pink slip, as did Real Simple publisher Sally Preston who had been on the job for less than a year. At Essence, two vets, beauty director Corryne Corbett (formerly of Real Simple) and creative director Greg Monfries (who came from People), were sent packing. The bottom line, reports the NY Post: trim $100 million to offset declines in advertising revenue.

Time Inc. wasn’t the only media company slicing and dicing its staff. After lay offs loomed at the New York Times, executive editor Jill Abramson managed to wrangle enough voluntary buy outs to avoid a major bloodletting. But several highly regarded staffers were lost in the shuffle. Culture editor Jonathan Landman, a hero in the Jayson Blair scandal when he famously declared in a memo “We have to stop Jayson from writing for the Times. Right now” accepted a package, as did Joe Sexton, who was responsible for the recent eye-popping avalanche project which produced 3.5 million page views last month. So what does it mean for you and others who want to enter the profession? Sharpen your digital story telling skills! Companies like Time Inc. need you. According to this scathing critique on the website Wall Street 24/7 a loss of imagination is responsible for the company’s woes. Mark Golin, the former editor of Maxim, is Time Inc.’s digital rainmaker. Sounds like he could use some help.