Barry Diller: “Editorship Is Going To Emerge As the Real Value-Add”

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IAC chairman Barry Diller introduces Tina Brown at today’s MPA/ASME awards

Though we snuck in sometime between the salad and the sea bass at today’s Magazine Lifetime Achievement Awards Luncheon at Manhattan’s Gotham Hall, we still managed to squeeze in some QT with the F.O.T’s* and the S.O.B’s* at today’s Magazine Publishers of America/American Society of Magazine Editors-hosted event. Highlights included Barry Diller‘s presentation of the award for Tina Brown, the Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame inductee. Diller touted Brown’s “remarkable sui generis career,” pointing out that hers was “not a career of conformism and positioning,” given all the editorial chances she took to birth the melding of celebrity coverage and in-depth reporting that the magazine industry widely considers her imprimatur.

Accepting her award, the black leather-clad former editor looked back on the magazine career she dubbed “three weddings and a funeral,” referencing her successful stints leading then-moribund pubs Tatler (now defunct), Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker to unprecedented heights, and bearing witness to that media flameout we all know as Talk. In an address of about five minutes, Brown offered up approximately 500 recollections, turns of phrase, gestures and bon mots that made us wish she hadn’t given up magazine editing for big-time biographies.

In a quickie speech laced with impersonations of former colleagues, and nostalgia for a bygone era when media moguls kept magazines alive on the basis of editorial promise (see Si Newhouse, Vanity Fair, 1985 — a year into Brown’s tenure there, which had the now-exalted glossy on the chopping block due to paltry ad sales), Brown hopscotched through highlights of her career, mentioning how “changing The New Yorker changed me — it was a daily intellectual workout that was tougher than the gym.”

Ahead of Hachette Filipacchi Media president and CEO Jack Kliger‘s acceptance of his Henry Johnson Fisher Award, a colleague-laden video had MPA’s Nina Link billing Kliger as a “great unifier” within the magazine industry who “helped create an invincible army.” Introducing Kliger was MPA chair John Griffin, National Geographic Group president, who informed the roomful of magazine editors that Kliger was responsible for “changing the framework of discussion in your industry.” Kliger himself likened magazine readers to so many zoo animals, telling attendees that the core of the magazine industry’s objectives was the “care and feeding of readers.” Touching upon the print/online tug-of-war many magazine editors find themselves embroiled in, Kliger sounded an encouraging if vague note: “Our industry is under pressure to evolve, but that’s okay.”

Fleetingly spotted in the post-luncheon coat check crush: Ladies’ Home Journal EIC Diane Salvatore, Seventeen EIC Ann Shoket, F.O.T*. (friend of Tina) Dominick Dunne, Men’s Health EIC Dave Zinczenko, BusinessWeek media columnist and S.O.B.* (that’s “spouse of boss,” smart aleck) Jon Fine, HuffPo’s Rachel Sklar, Portfolio blogger Jeff Bercovici and more.