Alan Murray, second from left, enjoys a game at Yankee Stadium this summer with his wife Lori, far left, friend Bob Kolb of Stamford, third from left, and sister-in-law Dale Sweeney of New Canaan, far right.
After a short shift as president of the Washington think tank PEW Research Center, Wall Street Journal veteran Alan Murray of Greenwich is back in business — at Fortune magazine.
Murray, who also had been deputy managing editor, online executive editor and a columnist at the Journal, became top editor at New York City-based Fortune this month.
The New York Times reported in July that Time Inc. executives who had worked at the Journal approached Mr. Murray regarding Fortune’s top editing position. Fortune, which publishes 18 issues a year, is a unit of Time Inc.
Murray, who lived briefly in downtown Stamford before moving to Greenwich several years ago, told the Times that assets such as the annual Fortune 500 list attracted him to the business magazine known for its in-depth articles.
“Fortune means a lot to people who run sizable businesses, and has a great resonance overseas where businesses are popping up by the thousands every day,” he said.
Fortune recently started its own website; its journalism was previously on CNNMoney as part of a partnership.
Several media outlets said Murray’s online media expertise was the reason Fortune offered him the job.
“Alan’s diverse background uniquely positions him to lead Fortune,” Time Inc. Executive Vice President Todd Larsen said in a statement. “He is a digital champion and media visionary who can bridge every aspect of our business, moving effortlessly from the newsroom to the boardroom to television to conference stage.”
Mr. Murray’s predecessor, Andrew Serwer, had spoken enthusiastically of plans to expand the magazine online, and to expand its conference business. Mr. Murray said those would be areas of focus for him, too.
“… Fortune is one of the great iconic journalism brands in America,” Murray said in an interview with Adweek. “I’ve been a fan of it since I was very young. When I graduated from graduate school I applied to two places, The Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine, so I’ve watched it change over time and I have great affection for it. It’s also in this somewhat peculiar position where it never had the opportunity to develop an effective digital presence because of the relationship with CNNMoney.com, so you have a situation where you have a great brand that needs help on the digital front and that’s an exciting challenge for me. The other thing is I love the conferences. I built the conference business at The Wall Street Journal.”
Keeping a traditionally paper publication alive in the digital age will be a huge challenge for Fortune.
As recently as 2006, Time Inc., with a portfolio of more than 90 magazines and 45 websites, generated about $1 billion in earnings. That figure is now down to $370 million, and revenue has declined in 22 of the last 24 quarters.
The magazine unit was spun off from the Time Warner media conglomerate as its own company in June, with $1.3 billion in debt, including $600 million toward a one-time cash dividend to Time Warner shareholders.
Mr. Murray said he was not discouraged by reports of imminent cost-cutting at the new company. He was told, he said, that “the best ideas are going to get funded.”
He will be the 17th editor since Fortune was founded in 1930.
Fortune’s circulation has held steady around 850,000 for the last few years, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. It was up 6 percent in revenue for the first half of 2014, the company said in a statement.
Murray, who joined PEW in 2012, also has experience in television news. He served as CNBC’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief and was co-host of “Capital Report with Alan Murray and Gloria Borger.” While working at CNBC, he also wrote the Journal’s weekly “Political Capital” column. Prior to that, he spent a decade as the Washington bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Murray joined The Wall Street Journal in 1983, as a reporter covering economic policy. He was named Washington deputy bureau chief in January 1992 and became bureau chief in September 1993. During his tenure as bureau chief, the Washington bureau won three Pulitzer Prizes, as well as many other awards.
Mr. Murray is the author of three best-selling books: “Revolt in the Boardroom, The New Rules of Power in Corporate America,” published by HarperCollins in 2007; “The Wealth of Choices: How the New Economy Puts Power in Your Hands and Money in Your Pocket,” published by Random House in 1991; and “Showdown at Gucci Gulch: Lawmakers, Lobbyists and the Unlikely Triumph of Tax Reform,” co-authored with Jeffrey Birnbaum and published by Random House in 1987. “Gucci Gulch” received the American Political Science Association’s Carey McWilliams Award in 1988. Mr. Murray also garnered two Overseas Press Club awards for his writings on Asia, as well as a Gerald Loeb award and a John Hancock award for his coverage of the Federal Reserve.
Mr. Murray began his journalism career in June 1977 as the business and economics editor of the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times. He joined the Congressional Quarterly in Washington as a reporter in June 1980, and the following year became a reporter at the Japan Economic Journal in Tokyo on a Luce Fellowship.
He serves on the Governing Council of the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and is a member of the Gridiron Club, The Economic Club of New York and the Council on Foreign Relations. He has served on the Board of Visitors of the University of North Carolina.
Mr. Murray received a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of North Carolina, where he was a John Motley Morehead scholar, a merit scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a master’s degree in economics at the London School of Economics. In 2005, he completed the Stanford Executive Program.
He is married to Dr. Lori Murray, formerly of Stamford. She teaches national security at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and had been a foreign policy consultant and former special adviser to President Bill Clinton for chemical weapons.