Jean Jennings departs as Automobile editor

Motor Trend, Automobile magazines reshaped in consolidation

Jean Jennings departs as Automobile editor

Automobile Editor-In-Chief Jean Jennings, left, presented GM North America President Mark Reuss and the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray with an award at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2013.

Photo credit: GM
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LOS ANGELES -- Source Interlink, the publisher of magazines including Motor Trend, Hot Rod and Super Street, is restructuring its automotive titles under a new branding group called The Enthusiast Network.

As part of the overhaul, Jean Jennings, one of the few female automotive journalists in a top management position, has resigned as editor of Automobile magazine, the company said in a statement.

"We're no longer in neutral," Scott Dickey, CEO of Source Interlink since February, said Thursday in an interview with Advertising Age, an affiliate of Automotive News. "We're now in gear."

A dozen splinter publications will be folded into larger similarly themed publications, known as “core brands.”

For instance, Camaro Performers and GM Hi-Tech magazines will become part of Super Chevy, while Import Tuner and Honda Tuning will link with Super Street. Automobile and Motor Trend will grow closer while retaining their own distinct titles.

A company source said about 75 employees will be eliminated in Michigan and Florida.

The move will “centralize much of the company’s production of auto-related content in its Los Angeles headquarters, increasing efficiencies and the ability to rapidly deploy content across multiple platforms,” the company said.

As part of the changes, the company is moving key editorial components of Automobile from Ann Arbor, Mich., to suburban Los Angeles, to work alongside its flagship Motor Trend.

The print version of Automobile will remain in publication while Web exposure is broadened, the source said, adding that some Web content will be shared between Motor Trend and Automobile.

Executive moves

The changes will consolidate the production of all in-market automotive content under Angus MacKenzie, chief content officer.

Messages left for MacKenzie and Joe DeMatio, Automobile's deputy editor, were not returned.

Mike Floyd has been named editor-in-chief of Automobile, replacing Jennings.

Jennings helped start the magazine with David E. Davis nearly three decades ago.

She left to “focus on the development of her own Jean Knows Cars automotive brand,” the statement said.

Some Automobile employees will remain in a Royal Oak, Mich., office.

The moves continue the rapid consolidation within automotive publishing. In 2012, Hearst shut down Road & Track’s offices in Costa Mesa, Calif., to consolidate that operation with its Car and Driver affiliate in Michigan.

Ad pages down

Automobile's total paid and verified circulation in the last six months of 2013 averaged 569,671, according to a report filed with the Alliance for Audited Media. Print ad pages have declined 4.3 percent through June from the equivalent six months a year earlier, according to Media Industry Newsletter.

Motor Trend, which has a circulation of more than 1.1 million, saw ad pages fall off 15.4 percent during that time.

New York hedge fund Golden Tree Asset Management owns a majority of Source Interlink Media, which has revenues in the "multiple $100 million" range, Dickey said. He said the company is profitable.

"This is one of the more significant moves in the company's history," Dickey said. "It's indicative of our strategic direction. We have a number of brands that cover enthusiast area and they all have one thing in the common: reaching people who are incredibly enthusiastic."

Dickey said the company also renamed itself to stand out from sibling Source Interlink, a magazine wholesaler that delivers magazines to retailers. The two companies share owners, but have separate management teams.

"We're different companies," he said.

Advertising Age contributed to this report.

You can reach Mark Rechtin at mrechtin@crain.com. -- Follow Mark on Twitter


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