Time Editor Rick Stengel Leaving for State Department

Thursday, 12 Sep 2013 10:50 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Time magazine managing editor Rick Stengel is jumping ship to take a spot at the State Department.

Politico and Capital New York — both of which are now under the ownership of Allbritton Communications — reported Stengel, if confirmed, would become an Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

Stengel, who started working for Time in 1981, covered the 1988 and 1996 presidential campaigns as a senior writer. He left in 1999 to write speeches for Bill Bradley's unsuccessful bid to earn the Democratic nomination for president, and returned in 2000.

Four years later he left again until 2006, when, at the age of 51, he assumed the helm at the venerable magazine that boasted a circulation of nearly 4.1 million.

Its combined print and digital circulation has now dropped to about 3.3 million, making it the 11th largest U.S. consumer magazine as of June, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

"One of the topics Rick focused a great deal on during his seven years as Time's editor was national service and making the case for why it's so important," an unnamed senior U.S. official close to Stengel told the online publications.

"Now he’s taking his own advice and moving on to a senior role at the State Department, where he will have the chance to serve his country. Rick knows the subject matter well, having covered international affairs and interviewed numerous world leaders — including the man in the news today, Russian President Vladimir Putin."

Stengel has been on a leave of absence since July, sources told the publications.

He'll be succeeded by Nancy Gibbs, Time's deputy managing editor since 2011 who's been with Time since 1985.

The exit is the latest at a well-known magazine dealing with leadership changes and financial pressures.

"I think he's looking for something fresh to do, and the magazine's looking for some fresh leadership because it's such a different place now than when he came in," a former Time editor said.

Time Inc. has a new editor-in-chief as of January, and recently installed its fourth CEO in three years.

The 91-year-old magazine publisher, America's largest, with marquee brands including Time, Fortune, Entertainment Weekly, and People, is to be spun off from parent company Time Warner early next year.

There's plenty of other ex-journalists at the State Department — Atlantic Wire reported more than a dozen reporters were working for the Obama administration in 2012.

Officials at Time and the State Department did not comment, nor did Stengel.

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