Joanne Lipman: A New Prototype of Feminism in Journalism?

One year ago, Portfolio was on its last legs. After the market saw the biggest plummet in decades, the cover of the business magazine had American Apparel founder Dov Charney on the cover: A misstep for the magazines that some say it never recovered from. The waiting game of Portfolio‘s cut from the Conde Nast empire wasn’t long, and many blamed editor-in-chief Joanne Lipman for the bad turns the title had taken.

Six months later, Lipman is back, in a New York Times weekend editorial, talking about feminism and inequality in the workplace, which some groups have read as her bitter grapes towards Si Newhouse for killing off Portfolio. But her argument is more than just sarcasm towards a former boss: If you don’t think there are still issues of gender divided in the newsroom bullpen, then maybe you should go back and read some Nan Robertson.

The choice quote that people are picking on Lipman for?

“I am still one of the few women to have run a major business magazine. My career was recently summed up in a New York magazine article as leggy.

And I got off easy. During the presidential primaries, while the news media was on their best behavior to avoid racial stereotypes, it was still O.K. to discuss Hillary Clinton’s ‘cankles.'”

It may be a stretch for Lipman to compare herself to presidential hopeful Clinton, but she doesn’t have many female leaders within the Conde Nast stable to compare herself to either. Si Newhouse is known for his love of star editors, once employing the likes of Tina Brown, Jane Pratt and Ruth Reichl. Now, Anna Wintour is the lone female shining star in a company that boasts celebrity editors like Graydon Carter, Chris Anderson and David Remnick. Lipman may be bitter about her magazine’s fate, but she also might have a point.

Regardless, we can’t agree that misogyny was the main reason for Portfolio‘s demise. And for all her bluster, Lipman also concedes this point (albeit with another dig at the world of business jouranlism):

“At the end of the day, Portfolio couldn’t survive the economic collapse. Still, we had created a magazine we were proud of that provided a venue for talented writers and editors, many of them women who hadn’t had that kind of chance to shine before in the macho world of financial journalism.”

Lipman isn’t the only one who believes business journalism needs an overhaul — if not for its lack of female leaders than for its declining ad revenues. If she wants to really make a difference, she should try to return to a leadership role within the industry instead of just standing on the sidelines and wagging her finger. We hear BusinessWeek is in the market for a new editor.

Related: Newspapers, Bloat Behind Portfolio’s Demise?

Publish date: October 26, 2009 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT