Claws come out as Kitchin sinks into rival editor’s chair

In a sordid tale of intrigue, subterfuge, poaching and skullduggery that could be worthy of a cover story in itself, ACP has made an already uber-competitive sector even more competitive by signing up Women’s Weekly editor Sido Kitchin as the new editor of what was not too long ago her avowed enemy, Woman’s Day, and also bringing Weekly’s deputy editor Fiona Fraser into the fold. 

In what one mag mole said was akin to TVNZ getting John Campbell to come work for Close Up, Kitchin will be taking over from current editor Sarah Henry, who is soon to go on maternity leave (it is thought she will eventually return to ACP for a commercial role). Interestingly, Woman’s Day’s current deputy editor Catherine Milford was unaware of the new additions to the ranks yesterday and found out about them after receiving calls from friends and media asking if she still had a job.

Over at Woman’s Weekly, former editor Nicky Pellegrino will temporarily fill Kitchin’s vacancy (they’ve already taken down the ‘From the Editor’ page, although thankfully you can still read the ‘I swallowed my toothbrush‘ story. Strangely, nothing about ‘Penisgate’, however).

Judging by the number of MPA awards won, Kitchin is one of the most successful editors in the country (although it’s difficult to compare like for like when ACP doesn’t enter). And in a media world that focuses so much on personalities, it is a very important element of success in this category.

The NZ Herald published a memo from Women’s Weekly publisher Sarah Sandley today that said: “As you would understand in this competitive environment we have required both to leave their positions immediately. It is a time for all of us to close ranks and protect the content and the contacts that make us successful.”

Everyone will be watching to see who takes victory in the next Nielsen readership figures, which are due out this Friday. Last time, the main trend was that magazines seemed to be staging something of a fight back, but the mass market weeklies were the notable exception, with a slump continuing for the category in terms of circulation and readership (both are hovering around 800,000).

ACP will be hoping to knock the bastard off this time, because the readership gap between Woman’s Day and New Zealand Magazines’ NZ Woman’s Weekly, which recently gained the license to publish New Idea from pacific Magazines, narrowed to only 6,000 readers and that gap has closed pretty quickly over the last 12 months.

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