Hearst’s Black Steps Down To Lead NYC Schools; Klein Will Join News Corp.

Cathie Black (horizontal)

Cathie Black, the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, is leaving to become chancellor of the New York City Schools. Black had been president of Hearst Magazines for 15 years, until this summer when the company hired Conde Nast’s David Carey to take over that position and she became chairwoman. In a memo to staff, included below, Hearst CEO Frank Bennack Jr. says that he expected the transition from Black to Carey to happen “over a longer period of time” but says Carey “is ready to lead.”

In what seems to be like a game of media musical chairs, the current New York City Schools chancellor, Joel Klein, is joining News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). as an executive vice president and member of its board of directors. Klein will be a senior advisor to CEO Rupert Murdoch and will advise him on a “wide range of initiatives, including developing business strategies for the emerging educational marketplace,” according to a News Corp. announcement. Klein also had media management experience before being hired as chancellor; he spent a year and a half as CEO of Bertelsmann’s U.S. subsidiary.

Black, according to New York City Michael Bloomberg, was chosen to replace Klein because of her management skills. The announcement credits Black’s “unique experience building on successes and leading teams to even greater achievements.”

The memo from Bennack announcing Black’s departure to staff:

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Dear Colleague–

It is with both a sense of considerable loss and a feeling of pride in her readiness to undertake vital public service that I advise you that Mayor Michael Bloomberg today named Cathie Black chancellor of New York City Schools succeeding Joel Klein, who has held the post since 2002.

Cathie has served Hearst with distinction for more than 15 years and her contributions as both senior executive and Board member will be missed by all of us who have worked alongside her. As someone who had the privilege of hiring her twice, first at the Newspaper Association of America and then at Hearst, I’m keenly aware of her willingness to take on new and significant challenges. Heading the New York City Department of Education, the largest system of public schools in the U.S., certainly qualifies.

Cathie therefore goes with my blessing. However, not only will Hearst miss her, so too will I personally.

All of us would agree that there is no higher priority in America than our educational system and the willingness to climb into the trenches in the fight for improvement is something to be greatly admired and supported.

Cathie joins me in the belief that David Carey and the rest of the fine management team at Hearst Magazines are up to the task of moving that important part of our business forward in the months and years ahead. Cathie’s handling of the transition with David, which admittedly we expected to take place over a longer period of time, has been exemplary and he is ready to lead.

We will be coordinating the effective date of Cathie’s departure with the Mayor’s Office but expect it will be sometime before year’s end. I know you join me in thanking Cathie for all she has done for Hearst. The press release from the Mayor’s Office follows.

Thank you.

Frank A. Bennack, Jr.

More to come.

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