OLD Media Moves

Fortune CEO Murray’s memo about EIC Leaf’s departure

May 28, 2021

Posted by Chris Roush

Here is the email memo that Fortune chief executive officer Alan Murray sent to the staff about editor in chief Clifton Leaf departure:

All –

I’m writing to let you know that Cliff Leaf will be stepping down as editor-in-chief of Fortune on June 16, to pursue a book project and other endeavors he plans to announce soon.

Cliff began his career with Fortune at the turn of the millennium, as Wall Street Editor.  He left in 2007 to write his award-winning book on cancer, The Truth in Small Doses, then do tours at other journalistic organizations, only to return home to Fortune in 2013.  He became editor-in-chief in 2017.   

There is no way to fairly measure the many contributions he has made to this esteemed brand.   He is the best editor I’ve worked with – I still use him for all my important writings; he is a tireless idea generator; and he is a constant source of humor and wisdom.  The one metric I would highlight is the sheer number of journalism prizes the team has won during the period he was leading editor for the brand:  69 for journalism, and even more for design.  I don’t know of any other editor for any publication that is remotely close in size who has had a higher success rate.  That’s a real testament to his talents.

On a personal note, Cliff has been both a friend and a mentor to me.  I could not have run the magazine without him when I was editor.   And I cannot imagine going through all we have gone through together since then without him by my side.

So please wish Cliff the best of luck as he starts a new episode in his career.  He is one of the best.  We all will miss him.  And we will long remember the lessons he taught us.

Needless to say, finding a great editor to fill his shoes and take the helm of this iconic, 90-year-old journalistic gem as it enters a new phase of expansion and recreation is a challenge that I take very seriously.  I have asked Brian O’Keefe to serve as acting editor-in-chief during the search process.  As you all know, Brian has impeccable journalistic credentials and understands the Fortune brand as well or better than anyone here, so we will be in good hands during the transition. 



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