One Editor, Same Staff for 20 Years

Article excerpt

One editor, same staff for 20 years

In a high turnover field like magazine editing, a chief editor who can hold together a good staff for long periods of time is remarkable. While most editors feel grateful when they've managed to pull it off for a few years at a time, the most recent recipient of the Crain Award, which honors career contributions to editorial excellence in the business press, succeeded for 20.

Miles Rowan, who retired last year as editor of Cahners Publishing's Modern Materials Handling, is a 32-year veteran of the magazine, having started as a managing editor in 1953. During 20 of his 29 years as editor, he worked with the same managing editor and the same three associate editors (one or two junior editorial spots did experience turnover).

How did he do it? "When a successful baseball manager was asked what it takes to be a great manager, he said: "a great team,'' reflects Rowan. "You need good people, and you need to encourage them to do their best. It's a people business, and you need to pay a lot of attention to that side of it.'

To foster a sense of job satisfaction in his editors, Rowan says he gave them each his own particular corner of the industry to cover and to develop expertise in, which helped to stimulate creativity, individual initiative and a "sense of ownership.' He also gave his editors an opportunity to participate in editorial planning for the magazine.

"Everybody was interested in the field,' he adds. "We all found a commonality of interests and a joy in working together. We all took pride in the magazine.'

Rowan, who holds a degree in industrial engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, began his professional life working for the Westing-house Electric Corporation in industrial management, labor relations, job analysis and production control methods. He decided to switch into business journalism in 1948, becoming associate editor at American Machinist magazine. He worked there five years before joining Cahners.

That somewhat unusual career change was prompted in part by a similar switch made by a friend, which piqued Rowan's interest. …