Sorry!! The article you are trying to read is not available now.
Thank you very much;
you're only a step away from
downloading your reports.

Magazine Survival Depends on Digital


Tradition, inexperience, and fear prolong the shift to online.

Gourmands, harried fiancées, and dentist office waiting rooms were struck a blow on Monday when publishing giant Condé Nast announced the closure of four of its popular magazines after severe drops in ad revenue.

Elegant Bride and Modern Bride will be ceasing publication as well as the soccer mom handbook Cookie. Gourmet will be shuttered at the release of its November 2009 issue, but will live on with TV programming and online recipes.

The closures see roughly 180 employees laid off and a collective circulation of more than four million issues stripped from shelves and mailboxes.

Despite the dedicated readership each magazine held, the publications were at the mercy of a three-month study by the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. After its analysis, McKinsey advised several Condé magazines to cut 25% from their budgets, but no amount of cost-cutting initiatives was able to save the aforementioned few.

Speaking with The Washington Post, Bob Garfield -- a columnist at Advertising Age -- had a grim view of what print publishing's future had in store.

"Your content can be flawless and you can still fail," the Chaos Scenario author said. "The Internet has created a nearly infinite supply of content… which leads to declining revenue and declining ad prices. What you have is a spiraling vortex of ruin. The reason Gourmet is dead is because we are all doomed."

Albeit a tad bleak, Garfield makes strong points about publishers' unpreparedness and/or unwillingness to shift to a working digital model. How so? He made those points three and a half years ago, and little has changed.

Because print publication has worked for centuries, department heads are naturally hesitant to take on a new venture. Those who were slow to adapt were left behind, but those who jumped into unfamiliar waters without adequate planning suffered a similar fate.

Last Wednesday, journalists and publishers met at the UC Berkeley Media Technology Summit to discuss the future of digital publishing. Representatives from Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), CNN (TWX), and Salon Media (SLNM) addressed the problems that have plagued earlier ventures into online publishing.

At the summit, former editor of The Rocky Mountain News John Temple admitted, "We did not have a clear strategy, mission, or objective. The web was a complement to the paper. That's not a strategy."

Temple's mistakes don't stand alone. Efforts to charge for online content have proven to be a failing model almost everywhere given the glut of similar information available for free.
< Previous
No positions in stocks mentioned.
Featured Videos