There're legions of uber-qualified writers who aren't employed right now due to the Sad State of Media. Funny, then, that Time Inc. hired a once-shitcanned People bureau chief accused of bad staff practices (nepotism, intern bedding) at their flagship, Time.
Last October, a Page Six item blew the lid off of a well-regarded quasi-secret in the People offices: Bryan Alexander, the West Coast deputy bureau chief, was placed on leave while his bosses tried to figure out what to do with Alexander, who was taking nepotism to new heights at a magazine that has strict policies in place against it.
Alexander was accused of promoting and favor-assigning items to both his brother Regan, and to one Mary Margaret Acoymo, a staffer promoted via the London bureau of People in 2006 by the mag's West Coast chief Elizabeth Leonard. She was given the promotion on Alexander's recommendation. Alexander and Acoymo then started publicly dating, which pissed off more than a few People staffers, who were severely annoyed with the fact that the girl an editor was dating got promoted over them. Even if Alexander was doing it on the merits of both his brother and his girlfriend's talents, it sure as hell didn't look that way.
Nevermind that the now-deceased Jossip chimed in with a lowblow tipster item suggesting Alexander swung both ways; two months later, in another round of People layoffs, Alexander was gone. His company found the most convenient way to get rid of him without having to address the embarrassing issues boiling to the weekly's surface.
So why - or rather, how, exactly - has Alexander resurfaced at Time Inc's flagship publication? Once you're done at that company, you're done. They're not the kind to believe in second acts. Alexander's received a string of bylines beginning Friday, all related to Michael Jackson. Three theories:
1. Time can't find anybody more reliable for this kind of thing than Alexander, a name they can trust (so long as he keeps out of the office).
2. Time's HR people don't know or forgot about the incident. Unlikely, but the distance between what Time does and what People does is pretty wide. Then again, paying freelancers might not require going through HR, so maybe he made it under the radar.
3. Alexander's about to file suit against the company and would rather just write for them instead. Least likely, but a possibility nonetheless.
Meanwhile, Alexander's squeeze Acoymo remained at People, though her last contribution to the website was in February, it appears. Jossip suggested this was "because it's more fiscally responsible to keep a junior staffer employed than entertain the possibility of a sexual harassment lawsuit." Can't really argue with that, and a lawsuit, however successful, is the kind of thing that could blackball one from a career of magazine writing.
Update: The reason Acoymo hasn't had any recent bylines at People is that she doesn't work there any more. She left in March to be a news editor at Radaronline.com.
The lesson, unemployed magazine writers? If you're slick enough, you can pretty much recover from anything. Personnel problems at magazines are as disposable as the products they produce, apparently. Oh, and also: you're not getting hired because employers are going with the same old shit that probably got them into the sad state they're in now. And with the methods Alexander worked in pretty wide practice as is, you're never going to. As always, it's who you know, and how much they care about getting busted.