OLD Media Moves

Self-promotion and a rehashed article

April 30, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

TheDeal.com executive editor Yvette Kantrow takes a look at the latest issue of Fortune magazine and the editor’s note from Andy Serwer and comes away wondering what the big deal is all about.

FortuneKantrow wrote, “He tells us about the issue’s ‘outstanding design,’ exemplified by the ‘evocative, glossy, golden ‘5” on its cover, which touts the magazine’s annual Fortune 500 rank-fest inside. ‘We think it’s an appropriate symbol for what we consider to be the gold standard of business journalism,’ Serwer gushes. Take that, Portfolio! From there, the kudos spout like Old Faithful. We hear about the issue’s ‘world-class reporting and writing.’ A piece on UnitedHealth Group Inc. is dubbed an ‘instant classic.’ Another on the Gap Inc. is ‘exceptionally insightful and deeply reported.’ Staffer David Whitford is described as ‘a Writer (yes, with a capital ‘W’) who can find the soul and poetry in any subject.’

“Oh brother.

“Nothing against Whitford or any of the Fortunistas who are targets of Serwer’s confetti. We realize editor’s notes are mostly about self-­promotion. And Portfolio and its overheated claims that it would redefine business journalism gets some blame for Fortune’s defensive bout of self-aggrandizement. Still, Serwer’s boasts did lead us to cast our usual jaundiced eye on the issue, notably its profile of Ram Charan (written by the Big W, Whitford), whom it dubs ‘the most influential consultant alive.'”

Later, Kantrow noted that Charan has actually written for Fortune and has hosted Fortune conferences. She also noted, “While Charan has written for and been featured in other magazines, the only substantial profile of him before Fortune’s appeared in Fast Company in 2004. It was written by Jennifer Reingold, who now, weirdly enough, works for Fortune. And most of the information in Fortune’s story can be found in Reingold’s earlier piece, including Charan’s claim to fame — his homelessness.”

Read more here

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