Joe Nocera for The New York Times: The Fall of the Wall?

November 1st, 2013

The New York Times
by Joe Nocera
November 1, 2013

On Wednesday night, I bumped into Norman Pearlstine at a charity dinner. He smiled his inscrutable smile and made the smallest of small talk. He looked off into space and seemed otherwise occupied.

Which, it turns out, he was. The next morning came the announcement that Pearlstine was leaving the Bloomberg media empire to return to his old haunt, Time Inc., where he had been editor in chief from 1995 to 2005. This time around at Time Inc., his title is chief content officer.

As editor in chief, an important part of Pearlstine’s job had been to maintain the wall that was supposed to separate the editorial staff from the business-side staff. The managing editors of the various publications all reported to the editor in chief rather than to the company’s chief executive, who, in turn, was supposed to protect the editors from commercial pressures. In Time Inc. parlance, this has long been known as the divide between Church (editorial) and State (advertising and circulation).

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