Hearst Developing Multiplatform Digital Brand – WWD

Hearst is developing a new digital site to cover lifestyle, fashion and beauty news. Initially, it was believed that the magazine publisher was simply hiring for its Snapchat product, but WWD has learned that another project is in the works.

Hearst declined to provide details.

According to the publisher, editorial openings have included managing editor, senior fashion editor, beauty editor and health and fitness editor, not to mention a handful of reviewing jobs for food and drink, appliances, electronics and automobiles. The latter hires are said to be part of a vertical that focuses on product reviews, while the former will develop a brand concerning what Hearst deems as news.

Hearst Digital president Troy Young is overseeing both the Snapchat project and the mystery Web site project, insiders told WWD.

Editors working on the Snapchat initiative report directly to an editor in chief, reportedly Luke Crisell, who was hired by Hearst earlier this year to work on special projects.

Crisell, a former editor in chief of fashion brand Aritzia, is said to bring an e-commerce element to the Hearst-Snapchat product. The new special projects lead has been interviewing fashion market editors to join his team, adding to speculation.

The second initiative, however, will build on Hearst’s broader aspirations to become a digital media player. Editors will be part of “building a media brand from the ground up,” and report to a soon-to-be named editor in chief, Hearst said in a classified ad.

Although Hearst would not provide details, there is speculation that new hire Brooke Siegel, director of editorial operations, will play a role in shaping the direction of the digital editorial side. One source pointed to Hearst’s search for an entertainment director. This new hire will report to Siegel, and manage celebrity news coverage for all 19 of the company’s Web sites.

The slow centralization of digital has ruffled feathers at Hearst Tower, insiders told WWD. Since Young was hired in 2013, he has worked on developing the firm’s digital presence by building his own team of editors to run the Web sites of Hearst’s print magazines. This translated to print editors having little to no say on the look and feel of their magazines’ sites.

On the digital side, editors report up to Young, who is the architect of a digital “newsroom,” which deals less in breaking news and more in creating click bait-worthy items, listicles and reblogged celebrity and pop culture stories.

Digital content has evolved since then and now site directors are producing original content for their individual sites; but there is still a divide between digital and print. Teams not only sit on different floors — and in some cases different buildings — but they also report to different editors, which means for instance, Cosmopolitan editor in chief Joanna Coles isn’t in charge of Cosmopolitan.com, but digital editor Amy Odell is.

The slow development of a newsier platform is said to be rankling print editors across many of Hearst’s mastheads, as their lack of exposure to the Web is increasingly seen as a distinct disadvantage in an industry that is veering away from print and moving rapidly towards digital.

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