This is my last hurrah in this space. After five years as publisher, I'm assuming a new job, as executive vice-president of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S parent entity, The Time Inc. Magazine Co., where I'll report to president and CEO Reginald K. Brack Jr. My successor is Mark Mulvoy, who for the past six years has been SI's managing editor. Mulvoy in turn will be replaced by John Papanek, the managing editor of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED FOR KIDS since that magazine's founding in January 1989.
In my new position, I'll oversee an array of support functions, including magazine manufacturing and distribution, and human resources, not only for SI but also for SI FOR KIDS, TIME, LIFE, FORTUNE, PEOPLE, MONEY and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. During my tenure as SI's publisher, both readership and advertising revenues grew substantially, and profits doubled. This growth was a direct result of having a superb editorial product to market.
I'm confident that the SI franchise will continue to prosper under Mulvoy's leadership. As managing editor, he successfully directed the first full redesign of the magazine in two decades and enlivened its coverage with the addition of numerous gifted writers. The magazine also distinguished itself with penetrating coverage of social issues that helped it win the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in both 1989 and '90. No magazine in the large-circulation category had ever won that prestigious award two years running.
"I'm particularly proud of our widely acknowledged role as the conscience of sports," says Mulvoy. "At a time when TV sports is reluctant to tackle controversial issues, we have taken forthright stands on such important subjects as drugs, academic abuses and gambling."
In moving to the publisher's office, Mulvoy, 49, is breaching the Maginot Line of the magazine business, a supposedly impregnable barrier that at Time Inc. Magazines separates the world of words and photos from the world of commerce. And. indeed, Mulvoy is only the second managing editor in the 67-year history of our company to cross over to the publisher's desk. However, he is uniquely qualified to make the leap, having been deeply involved in SI's strategic planning and financial processes and having astutely managed the editorial budget while also shaping the magazine each week.
The move bespeaks an increase in the level of cooperation between the editorial and publishing sides at SI. Mulvoy and I worked particularly closely in preparing for the launch of SI FOR KIDS, a monthly for readers eight and older that has already reached a print order of one million (including 250,000 copies distributed free to students in underfunded school districts) and has been widely lauded for its role in developing reading skills among children.
Much of the success of SI FOR KIDS is attributable to the imaginative stewardship of Papanek, or John P., as he is known to the magazine's readers. Mulvoy informed Papanek that he was the lead candidate to edit the planned new children's magazine when the two were playing golf at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., in August 1988. "John was so flustered after I broke the news, he didn't hit a straight shot the rest of the round," Mulvoy remembers. "Come to think of it, he wasn't hitting them all that straight before I told him."
When his name replaces Mulvoy's on SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S masthead in the next issue, Papanek will become the sixth and, at 38, the youngest managing editor in our history (Mulvoy, then 43, had been the youngest when he assumed the job). In fact, Papanek is just two years older than the magazine itself. But he is hardly a neophyte, having been a reporter, writer and senior editor at SI since joining the staff fresh out of the University of Michigan in 1973. He wrote and edited professional and college basketball, college football, baseball and golf before he was tapped to get SI FOR KIDS off the ground.
In announcing Papanek's promotion to head our 200-person editorial staff, Time Warner Inc.'s editor-in-chief, Jason McManus, called the move a "paradigm" for our hope that readers of SI FOR KIDS will similarly graduate to the parent magazine. Of course, for Papanek the new assignment is more like a return home. "I'm excited about being back at SI," says John P. "It puts me in the company of what I think is the best talent in magazine journalism. It also means I can use bigger words again."
Papanek (left) becomes SI's youngest managing editor, while Mulvoy (right) makes the switch to the publisher's office, replacing Barr.