Time Inc CEO Jack Griffin ousted

NEW YORK Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:03am EST

A newsmagazine cover featuring Barack Obama is held up by a supporter during a rally attended by Obama in Chicago, February 11, 2007. REUTERS/Jason Reed

A newsmagazine cover featuring Barack Obama is held up by a supporter during a rally attended by Obama in Chicago, February 11, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Time Warner ousted Jack Griffin, the head of its storied magazine division, after fewer than six months into his job due to what insiders described as a polarizing management style.

In an internal memo issued on Thursday, Time Warner Inc Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes said publishing unit Time Inc will be led by an interim management committee until a permanent successor to Griffin is found.

"Although Jack is an extremely accomplished executive, I concluded that his leadership style and approach did not mesh with Time Inc and Time Warner," Bewkes said.

Griffin was not immediately available for comment.

The shake-up occurs when Time Inc, publisher of some of the most recognizable magazines in the business including People, Sports Illustrated and Time, is trying to combat declining readership and advertising revenue as more people turn online for news and entertainment.

Griffin had been considered a polarizing figure at Time Inc, who had failed to gain the faith of his employees, according to people familiar with the matter who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

"It was a series of behaviors that made it clear that this was not a good fit," one of the people said. "A good leader makes decision that is inclusive, inspiring, motivating. With Jack, it was a demoralized, estranged group of execs."

'PERSONALITY THING'

For Time Inc, Griffin's continued presence posed a threat that other senior executives could soon leave, one of the people said.

"It's apparent that this was a personality thing as much as a strategy thing," said Ken Doctor a media analyst with Outsell Research. "(Time Inc) had a long history of stops and starts to the digital business. It's another stop for the process and it comes at a critical time."

The management committee will consist of three senior Time Inc officials: Chief Financial Officer Howard Averill, general counsel Maurice Edelson, and editor-in-chief John Huey. This committee will report to Bewkes, according to the memo.

The company had named Griffin to run its operations last August.

Griffin had previously been president at Meredith Corp's national media group, responsible for media and marketing, brand licensing and book publishing.

Meredith's publications include Family Circle and the Ladies' Home Journal.

At Time Inc, total revenue declined 4 percent to $1.1 billion during the fourth quarter.

Shares of Time Warner closed Thursday up 38 cents at $37.68. News of Griffin's departure was revealed after U.S. markets closed.

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr and Muralikumar Anantharaman)