EW’s Publisher Scott Donaton Exiting

In another major masthead change at Time Inc.’s Entertainment Weekly, Scott Donaton is exiting as publisher after a year and a half in the position.

Donaton succeeded longtime EW president and publisher Dave Morris in December 2007 after a long career at Advertising Age. His arrival came on the heels of a reorganization that combined Time Inc.’s People and EW brands under an umbrella unit headed by Paul Caine.

In a staff announcement, Caine wrote that Donaton was leaving to start a brand consulting firm and praised him for building EW’s brand strategy and visibility. Caine said Donaton’s last day would be May 8, after which a replacement will be named.

Donaton was chaperoning a school trip and couldn’t be reached by phone for comment. In an e-mail, he wrote: “EW is an amazing brand, and I’ve loved my time there. I’ve long been fascinated by the transformation of media and marketing models in an age of consumer empowerment, and I see a real need to help guide companies and brands through that process.”

Donaton’s leaving is the second big change at EW since January, when Jess Cagle replaced top editor Rick Tetzeli.

Donaton’s survival—and the magazine’s–has been in question for some time as the title has struggled under a harsh economic climate. This year through the April 24 issue, pages at the weekly plunged 33 percent to 255 versus a 22 percent falloff for the Entertainment/Celebrity category overall, according to the Mediaweek Monitor.

Circulation was down 0.8 percent to 1.8 million in the second half of 2008, with paid subs, the bulk of its circ, down 2.6 percent, per the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

EW recently drew criticism from the American Society of Magazine Editors when it published a cover-notch ad on its April 3 issue. ASME said the cover notch violated its editorial guidelines, because it directed readers from the cover to the ad and served no editorial purpose.