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COMPETITION NEVER HURTS: S.I. "BAKE-OFF" WELL UNDERWAY
Published July 10, 1995
"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).