You can divide the timeline of L.A.'s venerable industry rag The Hollywood Reporter into two distinct epochs: pre– and post–Janice Min. The Reporter pre-Min was a dry, highly specialized daily that was being read by fewer and fewer people. In the 2½ post-Min years, it has evolved into a slick, glossy, thoroughly modern magazine-style weekly. "The only thing we kept was the name," Min says.
She was helming Us Weekly when Prometheus Global Media then-CEO Richard Beckman reached out to her about revamping The Hollywood Reporter, which he'd recently purchased. She was intrigued. "Creating something is interesting," she says. "You can focus-group it to death. Or you can deliver things to people they didn't even know they needed or wanted."
She saw in her head how it might work. Min wanted stronger graphics. She wanted to break news, "not just cut and paste press releases into another form of paper." She wanted a fun, smart and informed publication about how entertainment is made in America.
"This is a town with huge personalities," she says. "It's extremely competitive. There's always a lot at stake, so there's built-in drama."
The trick was to actually make it happen. Min wasn't sure what she'd find when she first came in as editorial director. "Maybe the whole staff would have to be completely subbed out." On the whole, however, she discovered a capable crew of people who were willing to step up their game.
There wasn't much push-back; there wasn't time for it. She and her rejiggered staff hit the ground running. She established a photo and art department, brought in editors who knew how to edit magazine-quality features and relaunched the website.
Recognizing that business and leisure are often one and the same in Los Angeles, Min began to cover the social side of the industry as well — its restaurants, fashion, personal technology, cars and real estate.
The new Hollywood Reporter launched in November 2010, a scant four months after Min took charge. The compressed schedule forced her to think clearly, she believes. Sometimes too much time muddles your thinking. The proof is in the numbers: Online traffic is up 800 percent. More importantly, revenue is up 50 percent.
Min, 43, who is tiny and friendly, says she always wanted to be a journalist but never dreamed of being an editor-in-chief. "I hate to say I fell into it, but it just happened."
It wasn't until she was already doing it that she realized she was good at it. "This job tests so many things: Am I an organized person? Do I have visual taste? Can I think of strong ideas? Can I improve writers' stories? Will writers think I improved their stories?"
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Many new editors-in-chief are asked to cut staff the minute they take the job. But Min was lucky. She was able to add. "It was fun being the only one hiring in town," she admits.
Publishing a monthly-quality magazine every week, though, is not exactly a walk in the park. Asked to name the most challenging aspect of her job, Min answers without hesitation: "The workload." The steady stream of news, news, news, news, news — she falls asleep and wakes up to it on her iPhone.
"You're always having to one-up yourself," she says. "Your brain never gets to cool down."