Michael Wolff is finally out at Adweek. No ifs, ands or buts about it this time, the publication’s parent company, Prometheus Global Media, announced Monday that Wolff is leaving his post as editorial director.
"We are grateful for Michael's contribution to Adweek," Jimmy Finkelstein, Chairman of Prometheus Global Media, said in a statement. "His vision and guidance were essential during our monumental transformation."
For weeks, many outlets, including this one, reported that Wolff’s ouster was imminent for a variety of reasons.
The well-known Vanity Fair columnist and book author took over Adweek last October and ushered in a major redesign, broadening the trade magazine and its website's coverage beyond the ad business into realms of media, politics and culture.
He also consolidated BrandWeek and MediaWeek into the greater Adweek brand.
Prometheus was reportedly unhappy with the trade’s poor ad sales and felt that both Wolff’s attitude and his revamping of the publication had alienated the core Madison Avenue readership.
Monday’s statement makes no mention of these problems, instead insisting that the re-launch has been successful.
Nonetheless, Wolff is out and executive editor Jim Cooper will succeed him. Back in April, Cooper told Yahoo’s Joe Pompeo (now of Capital NY) that Wolff saved the place.
In September, Wolff rebuffed rumors of his impending departure to TheWrap.
"From my view the magazine and the site have turned out rather amazingly—and I’m happy,” he told TheWrap via email. “And nobody has told me I should feel otherwise."
Now that his departure is official, Wolff has also made a statement.
"I've had a fantastic time at Adweek," Wolff said. "It's been my privilege to be part of the brilliant transformation of the magazine and site. I can't rave enough about Adweek's remarkable staff. I am sad to leave but sure the talent here will continue to do great things. I'm grateful to everybody at Prometheus for giving me this opportunity and this wonderful year."
Wolff’s departure comes during a period of uncertainty and cost-cutting at Prometheus.
Another of its publications, the Hollywood Reporter, Prometheus was sued by Penske Media Corporation, owner of THR-rival Deadline Hollywood.
Prometheus also laid off the remaining staffers of the Hollywood Creative Directory in September, which TheWrap first reported.
Finally, Prometheus struck a “strategic alliance” with a group of investors to run Back Stage magazine. That was widely interpreted as an effort to offload the costs of the publication, which offers “job listings, career buildings tool, and industry news.”
As for the perceived problems at Adweek, it remains to be seen whether Cooper will undo any of Wolff’s changes.