Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Inside the Social Life Magazine Kerfuffle

After some follow-up conversations with Christopher London, Hamptonyte blog got a pretty broad picture about the nature of his issue with Social Life Magazine Editor-In-Chief Devorah Rose, who recently landed back on the pages of the NY Post after airing her dirty possibly imaginary relationship with novelist Salman Rushdie.

When the story broke, London issued a formal letter that essentially posed an ultimatum to the magazine's publisher Justin Mitchell: either Devorah goes, or I can no longer contribute to the magazine as its Society Editor. The magazine, along with the people it covers, are in hibernation until Memorial Day, so no word yet from Mitchell how he plans to deal with the friction between the two editors. In an e-mail to Hamptonyte blog, Rose declined to say anything on the record about London's letter. (Incidentally, if Rose was in journalism she'd know that "off the record" is not something you can just say, like Hocus Pocus, or Olly-Olly Oxenfree. Both parties are supposed to agree to it, but we decided to be nice).

Usually when an Editor-in-Chief (see: head honcho) is threatened with resignation from a section editor (see: NOT head honcho), the section editor gets escorted out of the building by security. We found it curious that London's letter didn't lead to an automatic shakeup at the magazine. Then we got some more information about the gist of Social Life's operations.

According to London, Rose is really just an EIC in name only. Like, really just name only, as in: doesn't have much jurisdiction or veto power over editorial content. In a sense, London boiled her responsibilities down to a marketing/PR role, whereby she wines and dines and 69s the subjects the magazine covers and then lets the writers step in. She makes decisions about the cover, and contributes her column "Royal Court," which sounds so completely obnoxious, (without having actually laid eyes on the column) we are currently on e-Bay seeking to purchase a guillotine.

For the most part, all editorial content flows to Mitchell, and everyone who works on the magazine does so as contributors. This includes London, which explains why he's not sitting on the curb at the magazine's NYC office with a box full of his personal items and a sign around his neck. London is one of the older contributors; according to him the magazine has a young staff. We're imagining something along the lines of a journalistic sweatshop. Young, disadvantaged, naive little hopefuls, working for gold stars and what's left in the bottom of a Devorah-ransacked charity-event swag bag.

London said when he was first approached by Mitchell it was a collaborative effort to pool resources and tap into London's knowledge of NYC high society, a knowledge he'd apparently gained while photographing society events for his own website. According to London, Mitchell seemed hungry to get a look into the world of NYC society, and worked overtime to develop his own contacts. Somewhere along the line, and if the NYT article is accurate that "somewhere" was an event at the MoMA, he met Devorah Rose and he had his EIC.

Most journalists will often tell you that when they get invited to attend an event, charity or otherwise, they usually hang back and observe. But according to London, Rose took no such approach to Social Life's coverage, much to the chagrin of some of the charitable organizations that invited Social Life along. London wrote to us:

"Once I started writing for the magazine, certain invitations that came to my attention were swiped by Devorah and they began to ingratiate themselves with people who knew me, including insisting on a table at their gala if they want SL Mag to cover the event. I had certain publicists ask me why they wanted a whole table. Did they not know that this was not proper protocol?"

It gets better:

"Any swag which came to the magazine was often seized by her for use with her friends. Hence most of what Devorah shows up at are nightclub events and commercial charitable vehicles for Reality TV."

Which brought London to his ultimate point: Rose is merely using her position to leverage any opportunity to become a reality TV star, even stooping, according to London, to placing key players in reality television on the cover of Social Life. In essence, the magazine gives her access, and she uses that access to further her less-than journalistic aims. Tsk, tsk, Devorah.

Over the phone, London told Hamptonyte blog that the Rushdie incident was the straw that broke the camel's back because it came off as so inauthentic. In a follow-up e-mail, he added these remarks:

"It is even more clear that Salman Rushdie was a 'mark', a man who was clearly being used to extend DR's Famegame. The fact that she tweeted the pic herself with rather suggestive language for a "do over" with the famous author and then complained he was only after one thing, is interesting...There was a quick effort to cash in on the notoriety of having had any contact with him...Wouldn't she try to persuade him of her sincere interest first before giving him up to the tabloid media? Rushdie served his purpose, the famous ladies man got her two front page appearances in the NY Post, in one week."

Let's put it this way. If London doesn't leave the magazine, and Rose stays put as EIC...this is going to make one hell of an awkward office Christmas party.

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