Elizabeth Spiers: Step Down, Joanne

Damn. FishbowlNY alum Elizabeth Spiers, writing in The New Republic, argues that Condé Nast should kick Joanne Lipman out of Portfolio… and bring in Tina Brown. The ex-Gawker and ex-Dealbreaker spends much of the piece playing armchair editor, but brings up some important points:

  • “That Portfolio hasn’t taken advantage of its opportunity is probably a reflection of editor-in-chief Joanne Lipman’s background, which most famously consists of launching The Wall Street Journal‘s “Weekend Journal,” a lifestyle-oriented section that had little to do with covering hard business stories. And Portfolio‘s flaws seem to be rooted in its editor’s entrenched habits from doing a very different sort of journalism.”

  • “There’s still the dumbing down, some of which is impossible to distinguish from the editorial staff’s inability to parse the issue themselves. Take the first essay, by Kevin Maney, “Bipolar Nation.” […] “Both coasts are hot at the same time, which is weird,” says Maney. Weird to whom, exactly? Anyone besides the editors at Portfolio?”

  • “Inasmuch as Portfolio is able to generate original stories, they’re unimportant–i.e., the story about a contract dispute between Dick Snyder (who hasn’t done anything of note since he got pushed out of Simon & Schuster) and Edgar Bronfman Jr. (a living, breathing example of the dangers of nepotism who will be forever walking around with Barry Diller‘s tire tracks on his forehead) that basically boils down to this: there was no actual contract, and the dispute affects no one except the two aforementioned parties.”

  • Portfolio doesn’t add value to existing stories: Reviewing Mitt Romney‘s business background is useless if you can’t get him to tell you where he’s going to come down on controversial economic issues. What’s more, it over-explains things that would only need explaining to readers who consume no other business news, have no business background, and possibly, double-digit IQs.”

    But why Tina Brown? According to Spiers, “if you’re going to do a Vanity Fair for business, maybe you need an ex-Vanity Fair editor.”

    — Neal Ungerleider