SBD/10/Sports Media

COMPETITION NEVER HURTS: S.I. "BAKE-OFF" WELL UNDERWAY

     "One of the more compelling and high-stakes competitions in
the sports world is the one that won't show on the revered
[Sports Illustrated] cover," writes Paula Span in this morning's
WASHINGTON POST.  "It's being waged in-house, on the 18th floor
of the Time-Life Building, as two candidates audition for the
role of Sports Illustrated's top editor.  Staffers are calling it
the Pillsbury bake-off -- but note that it pays better."
Assistant Managing Editor Bill Colson has served as Managing
Editor since May; Daniel Okrent, Managing Editor of Life
magazine, "takes over and runs the weekly through Halloween"; and
then, Mark Mulvoy returns until after the 1996 Summer Olympic
Games.  Whether Colson or Okrent -- or any other aspirant -- gets
the top job will be decided by Norman Pearlstine, Editor-in-Chief
of Time Inc.  Pearlstine:  "On balance, it's an open, healthy way
to approach a transition.  If I thought otherwise, I wouldn't do
it" (Paula Span, WASHINGTON POST, 7/10).
     SO, THAT EXPLAINS THE RODMAN COVER:  In this week's issue of
NEW YORK magazine, Richard Turner says it is this "internal
drama" that "accounts for why the magazine lately has been more
in-your-face than usual."  But, Turner says "although the
atmosphere has been outwardly civil and genteel so far, it has
made the staff deeply uncomfortable."  Colson and Okrent "are
under extreme pressure to produce memorable issues"; "Okrent's
outsiderness is engendering paranoia about people's jobs"; and,
"Colson must prove he's not a Mulvoy clone" but also "function as
Okrent's No. 2 for three months."  Former SI writer/THE NATIONAL
Editor Frank Deford:  "It's like a medieval joust" (NEW YORK,
7/10).
     STRONG, BUT IS THERE FIRE IN THE BELLY?:  "Whoever the
future leader is, he or she will find SI in good financial
shape," according to Span, who notes the magazine saw ad pages
climb 19.4% last year; was AD AGE's "Magazine of the Year"; and
has a circulation in excess of its "guaranteed 3.15M million rate
base."  Span:  "But several SI staffers privately think the
magazine has lacked editorial fire in recent years" (WASHINGTON
POST, 7/10).  Stuffy or not, Turner says SI "remains the only
huge-circulation magazine that people actually buy for the
writing, to hear stories passionately told" (NEW YORK, 7/10
issue).
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