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Meredith, Time Inc.: A Comparison

Could Time Inc.'s glam titles fit in heartland publisher's stable?

Meredith Corp., the company that’s reportedly in talks to buy most of Time Inc., couldn’t be more different from the publishing giant.

In what would be one of the biggest game changers in the magazine world in years, Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith is said to be negotiating to add Time Inc.’s female skewing titles like InStyle, Real Simple and cash cow People to its own no-fuss heartland titles like Better Homes and Gardens, Parents and Family Circle.

The irony, of course, is that Time Inc. chafed under the leadership of its last CEO, Jack Griffin, who had come from running Meredith's magazines. Griffin was fired after five months after clashes with Time Inc. senior management. If a deal goes through, Time Inc. could get a bigger taste of the culture they got exposed to during Griffin’s reign.

People at Time Inc. are already worrying about how they’ll fit in to the no-flash company known for its Iowan roots. “It’s Midwestern, very basic values, serving mass audiences,” one insider said, while at white-shoe Time Inc., “Editors feel like they’re doing something important. They hold their head really high. Editors at Meredith, they come in every morning and see the stock price.”

Meredith has for years pursued Time Inc.’s Southern Living, Cooking Light and other Southern Progress Group titles that would be a logical fit with the publisher's lifestyle titles. Save for More, the fashion magazine for over-40 women, Meredith doesn't have much of a fashion foothold, so adding Time Inc.’s glam titles like In Style, People StyleWatch and Real Simple would be a huge departure.

Meredith also doesn’t share Time Inc.’s heavyweight editorial tradition (although even that has changed, with stalwart editor in chief John Huey’s retirement). Under Griffin, Meredith did away with its editorial director. His successor, Tom Harty, has given publishers more oversight over editors.

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