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September 1997 Vol. 12, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Walk, Donít Dive

Skin Diver fires its editor-publisher

from the September, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

After 13 years with Skin Diver magazine, Petersen Publishing handed publisher-editor Bill Gleason a pink slip on July 25.

Gleason told us, "I was on the road and got a call telling me I was needed in a meeting with top management. I came back, went into the meeting, and was informed that I was no longer an employee of Skin Diver magazine. I was handed my paycheck and my vacation pay and that was it. No severance and no warning."

Gleason's departure was the latest in a series of changes that began last October, when an investment group paid an estimated $450 million for the privately owned Petersen's 27 monthly magazines -- among them, Skin Diver, Motor Trend, Hot Rod, Motorcyclist, Fishing Magazine, Hunting Magazine, Bow Hunting Sport, and Teen. When the new owners took over in October, they laid off 80 staffers and began moving much of the staff from Los Angeles to New York. They are expected to take Petersen public.

Every diving periodical (save this one) is advertising driven. Ad revenues account for as much as 80 percent of their income. Skin Diver, however, is the only one that has its circulation independently audited for everyone to see. Advertisers complain about its sky-high advertising rates, frequently jumping to other magazines where they pay less for full-color spreads, but in doing so they rely on the word of those magazines about how many people read them.

Gleason said that Skin Diver "will make more money this year than last" -- indeed, an independent forecast says it has 8 percent more advertising pages this year than last -- "but it was clear that we would not meet the goals management had set. It will be very difficult to make those goals with Sea and See folding and Nikon cutting their advertising budget about $400,000."

Especially with competition from a glutted market that includes Scuba Diving, (published by another colossus, Rodale), Scuba Times, Sport Diver, Discover Diving, Ocean Realm, and others. Skin Diver will turn up the heat, no doubt, and is already starting a new direct-mail campaign to build circulation.

Although no one at Skin Diver would comment on Gleason's departure, we learned that former editor and publisher Paul Tzimoulis, who became a Petersen vice president in 1984 after turning over the reigns to Gleason, is back as editor-in-chief.

Gleason, who isn't sure what he will be doing, can be reached at waterpath1@aol.com or at 310-546-3232 (voice) or 310-545- 3092 (fax).

Ben Davison

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