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New Vibe Editor Exercises Her Prerogative

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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The new bosses of Vibe are doing an extraordinary job of getting themselves hated. Editor in chief Danyel Smith was unlikely to win the hearts of the few staffers she didn't fire upon arrival—her first official action was to install her name on the masthead of an issue she hadn't worked on—but now she's pissed off music legend Clive Davis by bumping Christina Aguilera from the hip-hop magazine's October cover in favor of an artist whose relevance is undeniable, as long as it's 1988: Bobby Brown.

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Worse yet, whereas Vibe had shot Aguilera (whose dumping was initially reported by The New York Post), the Brown photo chosen for the cover is pick-up art. Tossing a resurgent pop princess in favor of a "star" whose career peaked almost 20 years ago might not seem like the most savvy of decisions, from a competitive standpoint. But, then, some Vibe insiders suspect Smith, installed last month after BlackBook owners Ari Horowitz and Eric Gertler bought Vibe from Freeman Spogli for an undisclosed sum, might lack competitive fire, considering her husband is Elliot Wilson, editor of XXL, Vibe's main rival.

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