Are CEOs Still Covering the Business Magazines?

December 22, 2009

Are CEOs Still Covering the Business Magazines?

In October, the WSJ wrote about how Fortune was cutting back on its heroic CEO magazine covers as it revamps itself in light of the changing media and anti-CEO landscape. The article said, “One casualty will be the CEO-as-god magazine covers that have been a staple of the magazine, whether with Jack Welch or Warren Buffett.” As a Fortune lover, former employee and CEO-watcher, that quote remained firmly imprinted in my brain. Despite the negative perceptions of many CEOs today, CEOs still hold great interest to business people, investors, employees and other key stakeholders. They still help to determine the destiny of companies by picking the right teams, building best-in-class cultures making the tough decisions. So as the year comes to a close, I decided to look into whether the business magazines and Time have been pushing CEO mugshots on or off their covers during this tumultuous year  and compared to the past several years. The results are below. 

 As you can see, there was pullback in the business magazine category except for Fortune. Fortune had 8 covers in 2007 and in 2008 and one more in 2009. Besides Bernie Madoff of Ponzi fame, the CEOs on Fortune’s covers were the likes of champions such as Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg — leaders that all accomplished amazing deeds and built good reputations.  It would be hard to argue that they did not deserve to grace a Fortune cover. Time actually added one (Rupert Murdoch of News Corp.) in 2009.  Will be interesting to see where the new Bloomberg BusinessWeek falls out one year from now.

We’ll take a look again in 2010 as CEO reputations hopefully begin to rebound (a little).


PS. The cover in my post is one of my all-time favorites and I have a large one framed in my office at home. It’s spectacular.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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