Tag Archives: Southern Progress Corporation

EXCLUSIVE: Coastal Living editor departs after less than 6 months

Also, Southern Living offers new round of buyouts

Sara PetersonSara Peterson, the third editor at Coastal Living magazine in the last 2 years, is calling it quits. Media of Birmingham has learned that she plans to work in New York on the long-rumored HGTV Magazine published Hearst Corporation, according to insiders at the Birmingham office. Hearst is a direct competitor to Time Inc., which owns Coastal Living and other Birmingham-based titles.

Time Inc. spokesperson Jennifer Zawadzinski said via e-mail that the company is interviewing candidates for editor, but no announcement is ready at this time.

(Also, Peterson’s interview with 365Beach.com in April.)

This latest departure is one in a series of ongoing editor changes at the former Southern Progress division:

Lindsay Bierman, the new editor at Southern Living, has started a new round of buyouts among the editorial group, reportedly to give the option to staff members no longer passionate about the magazine a way out. An exact number is not known, but the final accepted buyout list is expected to be announced after Labor Day.

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EXCLUSIVE: Southern Living has third editor in 2 years

The tenures are growing ever shorter.

Eleanor GriffinLindsay BiermanJohn Floyd was editor of Southern Living for 18 years, until his retirement in 2008. Eleanor Griffin has been in the position less than 2 years.

With her promotion to vice president of Southern Living brand development, deputy editor Lindsay Bierman will succeed her as editor on Aug. 9, Media of Birmingham has learned.

Bierman has been through this before. He became editor of Cottage Living a month before it closed in 2008; he succeeded Griffin, who had just taken the role at Southern Living. He then became editor of Coastal Living, until moving to Southern Living in March. All Time Inc. three titles are based in Birmingham, part of the magazine group formerly known as Southern Progress.

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The e-mail announcement from Time Inc. Executive Vice President Sylvia Auton …

Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2010 12:31:00 -0400

To: Lifestyle Group

From: Sylvia Auton

Re: Staff Announcement

After 33 years with Southern Progress, Southern Living Editor in Chief Eleanor Griffin, has decided to move her career in a different direction.  Eleanor is a consummate publishing professional whose insights, expertise and passion would have been sorely missed had she not agreed to stay on in the newly created role of VP, Brand Development for Southern Living. In this position, she will work closely with the advertising and marketing group to break and grow business on key accounts. She will also work in an advisory capacity with our book division, Oxmoor House, on the creative development of Southern Living branded book concepts, as well as be responsible for identifying relevant partnerships with appropriate organizations and events.

As editor of the country’s 5th largest monthly consumer magazine, Eleanor had her pulse on modern Southern style, ensuring that Southern Living covered every aspect of Southern life with a unique and powerful voice.  From secret sources for beautiful home décor to delicious Southern recipes and charming, must-visit Southern towns, Eleanor reminded her readers every month why the South is such a special place to live.

Prior to Southern Living, Eleanor had an impressive career as the launch editor of Time Inc.’s Cottage Living. Not only was the brand beloved by readers, but under Eleanor’s direction, it received many industry accolades, including “Startup of the Year” by Adweek and “Launch Worth Watching” by Ad Age, and made two appearances on the Adweek Hotlist.

Eleanor joined the company in 1977 as merchandising manager at Southern Living. During her tenure, she has held various roles at the company including editorial director of the custom publishing division where she launched four new consumer publications and was director of corporate magazine development.

I’m pleased to announce that succeeding Eleanor will be Southern Living’s Deputy Editor Lindsay Bierman. With more than 14 years of lifestyle editing experience, Lindsay’s varied expertise, keen design sense and creative vision dovetails perfectly with the brand. I am confident that Lindsay will build on the momentum of last year’s successful redesign. Lindsay assumes his new role on August 9th.

Before joining Southern Living in early 2010, Lindsay led the repositioning and redesign of Coastal Living as Editor in Chief for two years. Under his leadership, the audience grew nearly 10% to more than 3.6 million, and the brand launched four major home furnishings collections. Lindsay joined the company in 1997 as the first Homes Editor at Coastal Living and served as Executive Editor at Southern Accents before moving to Cottage Living as founding Executive Editor. Earlier in his career, Lindsay worked at Robert A.M. Stern Architects in New York and wrote for titles such as Elle Décor and Interior Design. It was during his school years that Lindsay developed such a strong affinity for the South. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia.

I am proud that since 1966 Southern Living has been the South’s favorite magazine and that more than 16 million people read it each month.

Please join me in thanking Eleanor for her many contributions to Southern Progress and wishing her well in her new role and congratulating Lindsay on earning the honor of succeeding her.

Sylvia

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The death of Southern Progress?

Birmingham publisher drops company Web site

Once among Birmingham’s largest publishing companies, Southern Progress Corporation has shrunk in population by more than half in less than 2 years. Its personnel have consolidated in two of three buildings on its Lakeshore Drive campus. It has closed down two magazines and sold off one operation. Many functions — human resources, marketing, accounting, building operations — have been consolidated or moved to Time Inc.’s New York headquarters.

And now, it has shuttered its online presence, southernprogress.com. The site now redirects to the Time Inc. corporate site. [view of site cached in Google]

southernprogress.com site1

Southernprogress.com: 2008 version (from archive.org)

southernprogress.com site2

Southernprogress.com: 2010 incomplete version
(from Google cache)

For some time, Southern Progress has been fading into oblivion, as sweeping changes throughout the publisher have roiled the Birmingham-based operation. In essence, the corporation that was formed 30 years ago and sold to Time Inc. 25 years ago barely exists, even as its employees still work under the existing titles Southern Living, Cooking Light, Health, Coastal Living, Oxmoor House, MyRecipes.com, MyHomeIdeas.com and Sunset.

Is the city losing one of its publishing companies to consolidation, economics and neglect?

Update March 24: This very report has spawned this odd headline … “Southern Progress not dead, Time Inc. says.”

Photo: Nelson Glass

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EXCLUSIVE: Coastal Living swaps editors

Also, ex-Southern Accents editor departs Southern Progress

Lindsay BiermanSara PetersonLess than 2 years after becoming editor of Coastal Living magazine, Lindsay Bierman is swapping his magazine title and job title. Media of Birmingham has learned that Bierman, shown at left, will become deputy editor of Southern Living on Monday. The move was announced in a company e-mail sent Wednesday (included below).

He had previously been editor of Cottage Living for just a few months before Time Inc. closed the publication.

Coastal Living’s executive editor Sara Peterson, shown at right, will succeed him as editor. The magazine debuted a redesign in 2009.

It’s the second editor change in less than 6 months at Birmingham-based Southern Progress Corporation, after Cooking Light’s swap in September.

All four titles are part of Southern Progress.

Also mentioned in the memo is the departure of Entrée’s editor Karen Carroll, who had also served as editor of Southern Accents before it folded in August. She leaves the company March 31 after 22 years at Southern Progress. Succeeding her is senior editor Alice Doyle.

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The e-mail announcement from Time Inc. Executive Vice President Sylvia Auton …

Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2010 09:17:57 -0500

To: Lifestyle Group Colleagues

From: Sylvia Auton

Re: New Lifestyle Editorial Appointments

I am pleased to announce that Lindsay Bierman has been appointed Deputy Editor of Southern Living, effective March 1st. Sara Peterson will succeed Lindsay as Editor of Coastal Living.

Lindsay is a multi-talented editor who over the last year has developed Coastal Living with great creativity, intelligence and vision. All who work with him admire and respect his tremendous zeal and innovative thinking. Lindsay, who has spent more than half his adult life in the South, joined the company 14 years ago as the first Homes Editor at Coastal Living and served as Executive Editor at Southern Accents before moving to Cottage Living and then back to Coastal Living.

Last fall Eleanor Griffin and her staff restaged Southern Living, which is the country’s 5th largest monthly consumer magazine, to great reader and advertiser acclaim. In his new role, Lindsay will team up with Eleanor to build on this strong momentum.

On Lindsay’s recommendation, Sara, who has served with distinction as his Executive Editor, will also assume her new role on March 1st. A superb talent, Sara was instrumental in honing and executing last year’s redesign and re-launch of Coastal Living. Prior to being named Executive Editor in 2008, Sara had been the Homes Editor of Southern Living. Before moving to Birmingham, she spent six years in New York, where she was the Lifestyle Editor at Redbook and a Senior Editor at Family Life.

Separately, Karen Carroll, Editor of Entrée, a magazine created exclusively for Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, has decided to leave the company at the end of March. Karen’s keen, sophisticated eye was evident throughout the pages of both Entrée and Southern Accents. Karen began her career at Southern Accents as an intern in 1987 and rose to Editor in Chief by 2001, a position she held until that magazine’s closure last year; she added responsibility for Entrée in 1998. Highly respected and admired by the industry and her peers, we thank her for her commitment and contribution over the past two decades and wish her well in the future.

Alice Doyle will succeed Karen as Editor. Prior to joining the company in 2001 as Homes Editor of Southern Living, Alice had previously worked in New York at Saks Fifth Avenue, Women’s Wear Daily, and Elle. As Karen’s right hand at Entrée and Southern Accents, her fashion insights, expertise, creative talent and extensive industry contacts have been invaluable in raising the profile of Entrée.

Please join me in congratulating Lindsay, Sara and Alice on their new positions and wishing Karen the very best.

Sylvia

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EXCLUSIVE: Cooking Light adds to Southern Progress layoffs

The bloodshed continues at Southern Progress Corporation.

cooking-light-nov-2009-coverThe fall layoffs continued into week 2 at the Birmingham-based publisher: Media of Birmingham has learned from company sources that five Cooking Light editorial staffers were laid off Tuesday.

Update Nov. 12: We’re revising the total to six laid off Thursday. Worth noting: Editor Mary Kay Culpepper left in September; executive editor Billy Sims is leaving voluntarily; and managing editor Maelynn Cheung was laid off in this round. Which means all three top positions at the mag have been vacated in the last 2 months.

The Time Inc. outfit laid off 48 employees Thursday, including 13 in Southern Living’s editorial department, eight in SPConnect (formerly Custom Publishing) and three in human resources.

The news comes as Time Inc. reports a third-quarter ad revenue drop of $129 million, or 22 percent, compared to the same quarter in 2008. And yet, despite that gloomy news, Cooking Light had a 27 percent increase in December ad pages, while Southern Living had a 34 percent increase. Both figures for the Southern Progress titles are self reported to the Publishers Information Bureau.

With additional reports coming in, the count for this round stands at 54 people laid off.

Update Nov. 12: The Birmingham Business Journal reports two possible but opposing outcomes. First, Time Inc. spokeswoman Debra Richman said the company will hire back “a number of positions” but did not elaborate on how many or which jobs. Second, the story concludes with, “Southern Progress sources said they expect layoffs to continue through December.”

If you’ve been laid off from SPC, or know someone who has, please let us know via our contact form. We’ll keep your personal information confidential.

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EXCLUSIVE: Dozens laid off this morning at Southern Progress

southern-progress-corp-logoAs part of Time Inc’s plan to lay off 6 percent of its workforce, Birmingham-based publisher Southern Progress Corporation began laying off dozens of employees this morning, according to our sources.

Update: The total number of people laid off today stands at 48, or a 12 percent to 13 percent reduction in workforce at Southern Progress.

The hardest hit groups appear to be accounting and Southern Living’s editorial staff. Others in support roles and on the business side were laid off. Several Cooking Light staffers reportedly took buyouts.

Coastal Living, Health and SPC Digital appear to have escaped this round with no layoffs.

Southern Progress magazines continued to see declines in advertising revenue in the third quarter.

Time Inc. filed notice Wednesday with the New York Department of Labor that it plans to lay off 280 workers within New York State between Nov. 2 and Jan. 31.

Update: The Birmingham News has an official statement from Time Inc.

Update: Southern Progress is also closing its corporate library and has plans to lease one of its three buildings after moving staff into the other two buildings.

Update Nov. 6: The New York Post reports that in addition to the cuts in the Lifestyle Group in Birmingham, three Real Simple staff members were laid off in New York.

If you’ve been laid off from SPC, or know someone who has, please let us know via our contact form. We’ll keep your personal information confidential.

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EXCLUSIVE: Hoffman’s Cooking with Paula Deen drops 14.1 percent in 3rd quarter

3Q-birmingham-magazine-ad-sales

Birmingham-based magazines continued their ad sales slump when comparing their third quarters of 2008 and 2009. The most surprising drop came from Hoffman Media’s Cooking With Paula Deen, which fell 14.1 percent according to figures from the Magazine Publishers of America. The magazine had increased 3.2 percent between the first half of 2008 and 2009.

Meanwhile, with layoffs imminent at Southern Progress, the decline in ad sales continued among the five remaining titles. Coastal Living saw the biggest slump, dropping 13.6 percent, while Health Sunset remained nearly steady with a 0.3 percent drop. Southern Progress magazines saw a 6.9 percent drop overall.

U.S. magazines lost 18.6 percent average in ad sales from 2008 to 2009 during the third quarter.

Also:

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‘Biggest mass firing’ in 2009 coming to Southern Progress, Time Inc.

Next week likely to determine who goes at Birmingham operation

southern-progress-corp-logoTime Inc. plans to cut 6 percent of its 9,000-member workforce before Thanksgiving, according to a report today in the New York Post. Its Birmingham-based Southern Progress is expected to dole out pink slips as soon as Thursday, say company insiders. Time Inc. will release third quarter earnings on Wednesday.

The scale of the layoffs means Time Inc. holds the distinction of the biggest mass firing in publishing this year, outpacing the 460-plus involuntary terminations at rival Condé Nast.

As previously reported, Southern Progress has cut 41.4 percent of its Birmingham staff in the past 12 months, eliminating 290 positions. However, this quarter’s cuts are expected to go deeper …

The Birmingham, Ala.-based Southern Progress, whose flagship title is Southern Living, escaped major hits in the round of layoffs unveiled in the fourth quarter of last year. The division … will not be so lucky this time around, sources predicted.

Southern Progress also oversees Cooking Light, Health, Coastal Living and Sunset magazines and Myhomeideas.com and Myrecipes.com. It closed Cottage Living and Southern Accents magazines and sold Southern Living at Home.

Time Inc. cut 6 percent of its 10,000-member workforce in 2008. All Southern Progress titles lost ad revenue between the third quarter of 2008 and 2009.

Read more stories on Southern Progress.

Update Nov. 3: The New York Times reports Time Inc. has begun layoffs at Sports Illustrated, and that layoff meetings begin Wednesday morning at other titles.

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The new look of Cooking Light and Southern Living

Two Birmingham-based Southern Progress magazines, Cooking Light and Southern Living, have rolled out major redesigns in the past month.

Cooking Light

cooking light september 2009 coverOur exclusive news on the changing editors at Cooking Light pulled in some strong comments about the magazine’s redesign, unveiled in September.

Cooking Light asked one blogger to review the new look, and give away a copy as well. Tina of Mommy’s Kitchen wrote, “Adding pictures to each recipe was a awesome idea on their part.” (The magazine asked for another blogger’s opinion.)

Emily at Cooking Inside the Lines also liked the redesign: “As a devout reader of Cooking Light magazine my message to the editorial staff is … I completely approve!”

But Emily Brackett at Visible Logic disagrees, saying the magazine “has taken a turn for the worse.”

Southern Living

southern living october 2009 coverThe Washington Post wrote about October’s makeover of Southern Living: “The redesigned October issue, which has pumpkin-shaped cakes on the cover and hits newsstands Sept. 29, is not a radical change.”

Editor in chief Eleanor Griffin tells Mr. Magazine, “I want to give them (readers) something pleasurable, I want to give them a memory, I want to give them an experience.”

Reaction on the magazine’s forum seems mixed so far.

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EXCLUSIVE: Cooking Light’s editor steps down

Mary Kay Culpepper leaves; Scott Mowbray appointed as replacement

Mary Kay CulpepperScott MowbrayMedia of Birmingham has learned that editor Mary Kay Culpepper is leaving Cooking Light magazine on Oct. 1. Time Inc. executive vice president Sylvia Auton has named Health.com editor Scott Mowbray to replace her at the Southern Progress title.

Cooking Light, started in 1987, debuted a redesign this month created by Mowbray’s design team. The title is ranked No. 51 among U.S. magazines, and No. 7 among Time Inc. mags. Its ad revenue dropped 16 percent from the first half of 2008 to the first half of this year.

Culpepper has led the magazine since 2001 and has been at Southern Progress since 1986. Mowbray has previously served as editor of Popular Science magazine and managing editor of Time Inc. Custom Publishing.

Update: Culpepper says she will pursue a graduate degree in creativity studies at SUNY Buffalo starting in the spring.

Among editors at Birmingham-based Southern Progress, Southern Living’s Eleanor Griffin and Coastal Living’s Lindsay Bierman have been in place less than a year, and Health’s Ellen Kunes has been in place less than 3 years.

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