Simon Dumenco of AdAge delivers the keynote this holiday season:

“That big publishers can’t manage to sell enough print ads, in a post-print media economy shadowed by a larger economic meltdown, is not exactly shocking. What is shocking, though, is that they’re essentially saying to scrappier, upstart online competitors: Take our business, please! We’re throwing in the towel! If we can’t play by the old rules of publishing — the profit-soaked, imperial model with endless layers of coddled management ensconced in luxe trophy offices — then we don’t want to play at all!”

“I’m just asking: Are you willing to radically adjust your business model precisely because you still believe in the act of publishing?”

“And when I say ‘radically adjust your business model,’ I don’t mean radically amputating so the patient bleeds to death faster. I don’t mean cutting all the front-line content producers — the editors and writers and art staffers who don’t make million-dollar-plus salaries — in great brutal rolling waves so that soon you’ll be unable to produce any content anymore. I don’t mean changing your business purpose from editorial brand building to, basically, editorial brand hospice care — abusive, inadequate hospice care at that.”

Read it all (here).

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  1. This attitude sounds like my children. If I can’t have it my way, I don’t want any of it. Just take it! That doesn’t sound like good management to me. Or did we already know that.


  2. The biggest problem is that management at companies like Time Inc. aren’t in the business of publishing. CEOs are in the business of managing a public company – a company whose shareholders are not in the business of publishing either and expect to see results on a quarterly basis.

    That said, I should hope Ziff Davis is tech saavy (it’s ironic to me that computer magazines are in print at all). Time Inc is really shortsighted to realize that Teen People is THE PERFECT market for online/mobile brand extension – their readers have never known a time without the internet.

    Then again, we’re also talking about the company who shed jobs while shelling out $14m for Brangelina pix. Instead of keeping a staff as a long-term investment, they obviously prefer shelling out for a one-time attempt at a boost in sales in favor of long term stability of their content.

  3. I have noticed that the more tech and news oriented publications on the newsstand are getting thinner. It is far too easy to quickly get information on the internet, rather than waiting to see it in a magazine. What those magazines really need to survive is to do more in-depth usage reporting, in the tech publications. In the news publications, they also need to go more in-depth, and give a bigger picture of events.

    The other extreme is lifestyle magazines, many of which are growing in size and page count. I don’t see these being replaced by internet versions. Flipping through those big pages is simply too addictive. I do notice the bigger mags loaded up with more images, and less text, though often very well written. Brief, to-the-point, and visually rich; this is the formula for future magazine success.

  4. XXXXX Magazine under the umbrella of XXXXXX Business Ventures became a top-heavy behemoth that was slowly dying under the weight of poor art direction, too many editors and not enough solid stories.

    Now they have changed. XXXXX Business Ventures has been cast aside and the remnants of it have been rebuilt into a new organization that reflects the interests and culture of today.

    New art director at the magazine, less heavy-handed editorial directives, more stories that look and feel that they are thought of as a package, rather than picking up stock photos to sugarcoat the story that was written.

    The possibility that they may actually be relevant again and make it. No, they are not the yellow magazine but the other big one in the Capitol.

  5. I’m constantly amazed at how many publishers with a viable monthly publication don’t take advantage of services like Zinio that can get them online with a web publication almost immediately by simply converting their hard copy publication into a PDF type online magazine.

    A stop gap measure you say? Perhaps, but until technology catches up and gives us electronic magazines published on nothing thicker than acetate, it will do. I currently subscribe to 8 magazines that way.

    -Carlos David

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