Arianna Huffington solidifies her authority at AOL; ASME’s ‘Magazine of the Year’ finalists announced

Mario Ruiz and Arianna Huffington. ()
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The Lineup collects the media stories, big and small, that are on our radar each day.

Changing of the guard

AOL's Huffington Post Media Group announced this morning that it has hired NBC News communications executive Lauren Kapp to be its new senior vice president of global strategy, marketing and communications, a role in which Kapp will serve as a "key advisor to President and Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington, helping guide HuffPost’s ongoing expansion," according to a press release.

“For a decade, Lauren has been an innovator and key advisor at NBC News, helping that historic and venerated brand maintain its standing and expand its audience during a time of tremendous upheaval in media," Huffington said in a statement. "Her combination of news experience, entrepreneurial drive, and passion for pushing the envelope makes her the ideal person to help guide HPMG in this time of continued growth."

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As we reported in February, HuffPost's longtime communications chief, Mario Ruiz, left the company to start his own P.R. agency (backed by the investment fund of HuffPost co-founder Ken Lerer). The Huffington Post became Ruiz's first client, and he will continue to handle day-to-day inquiries and requests for the website during Kapp's transition.

The Huffington Post broke the news of Kapp's hire in The New York Times last night.

But the bigger news in the Times piece, written by Brian Stelter, is that Huffington is consolidating her power within AOL, which acquired her website last year.

As part of a structural reorganization, AOL's technology, business-development, marketing and communications units will begin to report to her. (Huffington already oversees all of the merged companies' editorial departments.)

“AOL has been great for The Huffington Post,” she told Stelter. “We could not have possibly had the growth we’ve had without the help of AOL.”

Awards season

Two days after announcing most of the finalists in this year's National Magazine Awards (otherwise known as the Ellies), the American Society of Magazine Editors has unveiled the five titles that will vie for "Magazine of the Year," the highest honor that will be passed down by NBC News host Brian Williams at the annual gala May 3 at the New York Marriot Marquis.

And the prospective winners are: Esquire, New York, The New Yorker, Popular Mechanics and Time. (Last year, the distinction went to National Geographic.)

New York and The New Yorker, two perennial Ellies champs, are also nominated for the top honor of "General Excellence" for general interest magazines, a category in which they are up against curve-ball nominee Vice. (Also GQ, and Bloomberg Businessweek.)

“This year’s Magazine of the Year finalists have long histories of success in print,” said Sid Holt, ASME's chief executive, in a statement, “yet all five finalists have distinguished themselves online and more recently on tablets and smartphones.”

In other awards news, Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism today announced the winners of the 2012 Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma: The New York Times, for the series “Punched Out: The Life and Death of a Hockey Enforcer," and WNYC Radio, for its documentary “Living 9/11.”

More on that here.

In other news...

Will Time Warner boot Current TV due to low ratings? [Reuters]

Mitt Romney addresses his fast-paced chroniclers in the media. [Dylan Byers/Politico]

An ousted editor returns to the Philadelphia Inquirer. [NYT/Media Decoder]

Michael Wolff on "Rupert Murdoch's American media immunity." [The Guardian]

Furloughs at USA Today. [A.P.]