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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   March 1994  issue

Truman Era Begins At Condé Nast   


By Meredith Tcherniavsky
Meredith Tcherniavsky is a former AJR news aide.      

For 31 years, magazine giant Condé Nast has been led by its first editorial director, Alexander Liberman . Beginning April 1, it gets its second, former Details editor James Truman .

Truman, 35, succeeds the 81-year-old, Ukrainian-born Liberman overseeing S.I. Newhouse 's 13 magazines, which include Details, Vogue , Vanity Fair , Allure and GQ . He gets the nod over such stars as Tina Brown of the New Yorker (owned by Newhouse but not within Condé Nast) and Anna Wintour of Vogue.

Liberman joined Condé Nast in 1941 in Vogue's art department and is best known for his innovative use of graphic design. An accomplished artist, he served as the company art director for two years beginning in 1960 before becoming editorial director. He now takes over as deputy chairman/editorial.

John Leland , 34, a senior editor at Newsweek , succeeds Truman, who joined Condé Nast in 1988 as features editor of Vogue. Two years later, the London native took over as editor of Details, a 100,000-circulation monthly covering the club scene in New York. After he shifted its focus toward younger urban men, circulation increased 380 percent and now approaches 500,000.

As editorial director overseeing Condé Nast's magazines and their editors, Truman says he knows he has to be manager rather than creator. "Condé Nast publications are the product of their editors," he says, not the editorial director.

For that reason, Truman considers himself "the conductor of an orchestra rather than an autocrat" whose style must be "encouraging rather than imposing."

Lisa Murray, Details' managing editor, says Truman was well-liked at the monthly and "very fair."

"I started here as a copy editor and never felt like I couldn't approach him," says Murray. She adds, however, that he is no "Mr. Touchy-Feely."

Meredith S. Tcherniavsky