NY magazine group once known for swanky shindigs is moving to DC

MPA — The Association of Magazine Media, a century-old nonprofit trade group whose swanky events used to attract A-listers from Barack Obama to Norman Schwarzkopf, is shuttering its New York City headquarters and relocating to Washington, DC.

“It’s part of a long-range strategic plan,” said Tom Harty, chief executive of Meredith who is also chairman of the MPA. “We’re doubling down on our government affairs. We need to be putting more resources against that.”

He said issues facing the group’s 150 member companies revolve around postal matters, taxes and privacy topics.

It marks a dramatic turn for the group formerly known as the Magazine Publishers Association, which, at its founding in 1919, was almost like a gentlemen’s club for a more genteel industry.

The MPA used to stage three-day annual conventions in cities picked for their proximity to good golf courses — Naples, Fla., Scottsdale, Ariz., and even Bermuda and Puerto Rico.

It also attracted leading political figures. It was at an MPA gathering in 2006 where Obama, then a US senator, was asked about his drug use in his younger days and acknowledged, “I inhaled. That was the point.”

And the late US Sen. John McCain once got into a small shoving match at a blackjack table in Puerto Rico with a local patron who had no idea who he was and didn’t want to lose her lucky spot.

Retired Gen. Schwarzkopf, in an address to the MPA after the conclusion of the first Persian Gulf War, explained that the reason the coalition forces did not remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power was that regime change was not the order of the day and it was felt that the move would have alienated all the Arab allies in the 30-nation coalition.

And in more flush times, first lady Barbara Bush received a $100,000 donation from the MPA for her campaign against illiteracy when she addressed the group in 1990.

Since the great recession savaged the print ad base, the annual gathering has been downgraded to a one-day business meeting in New York packed with seminars on how to handle the digital revolution in the media world.

The golf and tennis matches that once seemed to be the main reason for the gatherings were scrapped, as were the big-time celebrity speakers.

Linda Thomas Brooks, who has been executive director of the MPA for the past 3½ years, will depart at year’s end. Ten full-timers and two part-timers will be laid off in New York, where the group has been based for the past century.

The MPA board met in NYC on Thursday and approved the plan unanimously.

“The magazine media business has become so complex, we felt it was strategically important for members to address this complexity — it’s getting crazy out there,” Brooks, a career ad exec on Madison Avenue, told The Post. “I didn’t grow up on Capitol Hill.”

The top MPA staffer will now be Brigitte Schmidt Gwyn, the executive vice president of government affairs and a veteran DC lobbyist. Prior to joining the MPA in January, she was at Accenture as managing director of government affairs and earlier was VP of global government relations at Kellogg Co.

Source: Read Full Article