Sex is still on top at Cosmopolitan magazine, but as Claire Atkinson reports, its new crew of editors is open to other topics relevant to young working women.
Sex is still on top at Cosmopolitan magazine, but as Claire
Atkinson reports, its new crew of editors is open to other topics
relevant to young working women.
Take a look at Cosmopolitan’s front cover this month. It features a
bombshell in a skin-tight bustier and trousers that barely cover her
crotch. If that doesn’t prompt a double take, then try scanning the
Who could resist picking up a magazine with tasters such as ’The Kama
Sutra 2: 12 naughty new sex positions, the dragon is our favorite’ or
’How to make a man yours forever - or as long as you want him.’ Sex is
what put Cosmopolitan and its former editor of 32 years, Helen Gurley
Brown, on the map. Who would have thought those provocative phrases were
first penned by her husband David Brown?
Deputy editor Janet Siroto says there is so much more under the cover:
’Sex, that is the stereotype of the magazine. There are 300 pages and
yes there is sex, but that is not the whole story. The balance is
The current editor-in-chief, Kate White - appointed a year ago - came
over from Redbook, and is only the third editor in the history of the
magazine. Gurley Brown gave up the editor’s chair in 1997 only to hand
it to Bonnie Fuller, who quit soon after to edit Conde Nast-owned rival
White has tried to add a greater range of material and has wasted no
time jumping from a thirtysomething to a twentysomething mind-set. She
told CNN’s media show Biz Buzz last year: ’I feel like a part of me has
been unleashed because I’ve always had a sort of wild side that I’ve
kept down.’ She continues, ’One of the things I’d love to add is a
little bit more news because we haven’t done that. A little bit more
journalism, things that really pertain to our readers’ lives.’
To that end, this month Cosmopolitan appointed former freelancer Ruth
Davis to the newly created position of news editor. Davis will be
responsible for bringing in investigative pieces, first person horror
stories and harder news material.
White has also upped the fashion coverage. Jerry Seinfeld’s
ex-girlfriend Shoshanna Lonstein is a contributing editor and helps keep
Cosmopolitan current with the hottest trends. Lonstein, who has her own
lingerie line, is the magazine’s ’girl about town’ and lives up to the
title’s ’fun, fearless, female’ slogan. Siroto says there is likely to
be more celebrity-oriented material in the coming months and she’s busy
developing additional lifestyle and interiors coverage.
Cosmopolitan also gains a new section in October. ’It features fun stuff
to do or wear,’ says Siroto. ’We are looking for things like fantastic
reference books you can throw in your bag or stylish gimmicky
(Associate editor) Rosie Amodio looks after off-beat stuff, like the
coolest pillow for your couch or the latest new dinner party games.’
Slowly but surely, White is re-orienting the ship, with the help of a
few lunchtime suggestions from Gurley Brown, who now oversees the
international editions. Alison Mitchell, vice president at New
York-based lifestyle PR Allyson Harrison Shriftman, sees the difference:
’I think the focus has changed. They seem to be doing more fashion. I
worked closely with (fashion director) Elaine Farley and she is
extraordinarily creative and very accessible.’
The office is just how you’d imagine it. Siroto says her desk has a
vodka cartoon on it, senior editor Elizabeth Goodman wades through
sample pain relievers while associate editor Esther Crain has staff
testing a range of low-fat ice creams.
As with all monthlies, the team is now concentrating efforts on a bumper
Christmas issue packed full of products and gift ideas. PR pro Mitchell
is thrilled that she got a December issue placement for a pair of Jimmy
Choo stilettos costing one million dollars. There is still time to slide
a few late suggestions in, says Siroto, who’s already thinking of ideas
for the January/February issues.
Cosmopolitan’s pages are packed with novelties for the 18-34 year old
target audience. Cosmo Calendar lists the latest movie, music and
make-up releases while Why Don’t You is a suggestion section which
recommends ideas from books - like ’skip wearing a bra,’ from Phillip
Bloch, author of Elements of Style. Calendar is run by associate editor
Laura Gilbert, who also takes suggestions for new web sites.
Siroto says that most editors complain about clogged e-mail systems and
advises PR pros to pick up the phone or send a fax. She also advises
anyone pitching baby products to try somewhere else. ’Yes, lots of our
readers are parents, but it’s not the mind-set,’ says the former Redbook
editor, who is still receiving Pampers from some PR pros.
Executives based outside New York or Los Angeles are going to have a
hard time pitching regional stories. Siroto says they’re unlikely to be
interested in a new hotel in Chicago, but would pick up on the latest
new spa in Los Angeles where the stars hang out.
So just how is Cosmopolitan different from its rivals? Mitchell
explains: ’Glamour is younger, Marie-Claire is for women who are a bit
older but Cosmopolitan attracts a wide interest group. I think it is an
White’s stewardship has had a positive affect on the bottom line as
Last week publisher Hearst Magazines announced the title had broken the
two million mark on the newsstand for the first time since 1993.
Newsstand sales reflect the pulling power of the cover from month to
month. In addition, total circulation reached 2,878,989 for the six
months ended June 1999, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation
(ABC) - an 11.5% increase compared with the same period last year. It
seems girls just can’t get enough these days.
224 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
Tel: (212) 649 3570
Fax: (212) 956 3268
Editor-in-chief: Kate White
Executive editor: Ellen Klunes
Deputy editor: Carol Brietzke (sex, relationships, health, self help,
careers and astrology)
Deputy editor: Janet Siroto (dating column, living, home design)
Entertainment editor: Jennifer Kasle (celebrities)
Fashion director: Elaine Farley
News editor: Ruth Davis Associate editor: Rosie Amodio (new
Senior editor: Elizabeth Goodman Artis (health and nutrition)
Senior articles editor: John Searles (books).