"Reuters and the World Economic Forum have much in common," writes the electronic news service's editor in chief, Stephen Adler. "We're both global in outlook, dedicated to generating insights that drive better, smarter decisions and committed to bringing together the world's most interesting people."
That's why, Adler explains in an editor's letter, Reuters has decided to produce a magazine specifically designed for the gabfest known as Davos. Called simply Reuters, the 64-page, ad-free glossy, which was distributed to attendees of this year's World Economic Forum, is chock-full of all the big-name bylines Reuters has been giddily collecting over the past few years -- Chrystia Freeland, Bethany McLean, Sir Harold Evans, David Rohde, Jonathan Weber, to name just a few. Thumbing through it, you realize Reuters does indeed have something in common with Davos, though I'd put it differently, and perhaps less kindly, than Adler. What they share isn't just a dedication to "generating insights" and making smarter decisions, but the unshakable belief that if you bring together enough of the right people -- meaning those with the right titles, the right credentials, the right résumés, aka, the elite -- in one place, you are guaranteed to accomplish great things.
Just listen to Jim Impoco, managing editor of the new pub, gush about the big-name talent behind it. (In addition to those listed above, journalistic luminaries including former Harper's Magazine editor Roger Hodge and the well-known design team of Priest + Grace can be found on the masthead.) "We assembled a sort of Navy Seal team to put it together," Impoco told Capital New York. "I used to be at Fortune, and if we'd had a line-up like that, we'd have been doing the happy dance all through the '90s."
I didn't realize they weren't doing the happy dance at Fortune in the '90s, nor that the magazine's lineup at the time consisted of chopped liver, but that's another story. Impoco, executive editor of Thomson Reuters Digital, also previously worked at The New York Times, and, it should be noted, Condé Nast's short-lived Portfolio, which Capital New York points out is a former employer of at least four contributors to Reuters magazine. It's an interesting detail, given that much of the hype and high expectations that preceded Portfolio's launch was based on the oft-repeated belief that it had assembled a team of business journalism all-stars, as if that was enough to guarantee its success.
Of course, it wasn't, and Portfolio lasted only 21 issues. But the idea that if you snap up enough big names you'll succeed stubbornly persists, both at conferences like Davos and at ambitious media outlets like Reuters, where Adler, the last editor in chief of Businessweek before its sale to Bloomberg, seems to have enacted something of a full-employment act for marquee journalists. Reuters' archrival Bloomberg has also done its share of big-name hiring over the past couple of years -- David Shipley, Michael Kinsley, to name just two -- in addition to snapping up and relaunching Businessweek magazine as Bloomberg Businessweek. They may be electronic news services, but Bloomberg and Reuters both still believe in the power of print.
Still, the similarities seem to end there. Bloomberg Businessweek, which claims nearly fpour million readers, serves a mass business audience; Reuters magazine, by contrast, is unabashedly for the Davos set. That's an interesting group for a giant news service to target, given the current Zeitgeist and its mistrust of anything having to do with the 1%. But when it comes to Davos, it seems big-name journalists are happy to throw their hats in with the elite, whether that means flying off to Switzerland to rub elbows with CEOs as they frolic on Magic Mountain (in a recent column on Davos, The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin wondered parenthetically, "When did elite become a pejorative term?") or producing a magazine whose cover story is about income inequality not among the masses, but among millionaires and billionaires, or as Reuters magazine put it, the haves and have lots.
As of now, it's not clear if Reuters magazine is just a one-off or not, though Impoco in Capital New York called it a "proof-of-concept exercise" to see if Reuters can "do a print product as part of our consumer-facing push." Consumer-facing? At Davos? Those are some big-name consumers.
Yvette Kantrow is executive editor of The Deal magazine.
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