(News)Standoff II

In yesterday’s edition of Women’s Wear Daily, the following item appeared in the Memo Pad section:

John Byrne wrote 57 cover stories for BusinessWeek before bolting last April to edit Fast Company, but it seems he’s still giving his old colleagues ideas. Last week’s BW featured hip-hop/apparel entrepreneur Russell Simmons on its cover with his face cloaked in shadow beneath the brim of his ubiquitous baseball cap. He’s holding the same pose in the opening spread of FC’s cover story on Simmons in the November issue — which began arriving in subscribers’ mailboxes a week before BW’s profile closed. “The curious thing is, they did have access to our issue,” said Byrne, “and it’s curious that this BW alum would leave and — bingo! — all of a sudden we seem to be in competition.”

BusinessWeek had to know what Fast Company was up to — the former’s photo shoot with Simmons was scheduled two weeks after the latter’s, according to Simmons’ spokeswoman, and both stories share sources like Donald Trump. BusinessWeek may have had its story in the works before Fast Company shipped, but, Byrne said, “I know that [editor in chief] Steve Shepard and crew had our cover by the ninth of October, and they closed their issue on Oct. 15 and then it came out on the 17th and 18th.”

Maybe so, but a BW spokesman said the magazine completed its Simmons story a few weeks before FC broke and its rival’s story didn’t have an impact on BW’s coverage. As for influence, the spokesman said, “I know they have a Wal-Mart cover story coming, and we had one a few weeks ago. Who knows? They might be inspired.”