Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

The 25 Percent Conundrum

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

The 25 Percent Conundrum

Article excerpt

Even as the salaries of the editorial elite spiral into six figures, there remains a strange disparity.

If, as an editor, your compensation package were worth $225,000 a year, you would be pretty happy, right? Certainly you'd be making more than many of your peers. The average salary for top editors in last year's FOLIO: Editorial Salary Survey (August 1, 1993, page 41) was $66,444.

But suppose someone else, doing a comparable job at the same company, had a $400,000 package. You'd ask why.

At least I hope you would.

When Keith J. Kelly wrote recently in FOLIO:'s "First Day" about that real-fife example I describe above, it made me think of the refrain of the plaintiff attorney in Philadelphia. When wending his way through the seemingly inexplicable realities of prejudice, he would begin his questioning: "Okay, explain this to me like I'm a six-year-old."

Okay, then, explain this to me: There are two magazines, owned by the same private investment group, conducting searches for top editors at the same time. One magazine, a monthly, has a nationwide circulation of 1.8 million and is under assault by several aggressive competitors. PIB estimates its 1993 ad revenues were $40 million. It has an editorial staff of about 40 people and needs a skilled leader who can bring it a vision with which to enter the 21st century.

The other magazine is a regional weekly with a circulation of about 440,000. Although it has seen ad pages fall, in 1993 it brought in about $43 million in ad revenues and is virtually unchallenged editorially. Still, its formula and format could use some freshening up. It also has an editorial staff of 40.

So, which editor got what? You guessed it: The editor of the bigger magazine got the $225,000 package. Why? I'm sure executives and compensation experts could rationalize it a hundred ways, but I believe it comes down to this: The former job was a "woman's job" and the latter was a "man's job. …

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