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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Joe Nocera, "The Fall of the Wall?": Separation of Newspaper and Reality

Yes, Time's time has come.

As observed by Joshua Macht in an April 5, 2013 Atlantic article entitled "Running Out of TIME: The Slow, Sad Demise of a Great American Magazine" (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/running-out-of-time-the-slow-sad-demise-of-a-great-american-magazine/274713/):

"Unfortunately, the brand would fall hard. I joined Time magazine in the summer of 2002 just after the bursting of the dot-com bubble. The largest project during my tenure as editor and general manager of Time.com was to digitize the entire archive going back to March of 1923 - which pushed me deep into Time magazine lore. I tracked the early days when the magazine first took flight to the WWII era when Time could sell more than 400,000 copies in a week even with some little-known Italian general on the cover.

It kept on growing after that. At its zenith the brand could reach more than 20 million people around the world each week. Time practically defined what it meant to be mass media. It was a brand for pretty much everybody. Television and then cable news (CNN in particular) eventually began to chip away at its position, and Time went though struggles and repeated attempts at reinvention through the years. But it took the arrival of the Internet to truly endanger it.

I can remember one offsite in Connecticut where we looked at financials that were showing steady declines in net income for the brand. By 2005 the magazine's circulation was just beneath 4 million subscribers and it averaged around 150,000 copies per week sold on the newsstand, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC). Today Time averages less than 60,000 copies per issue on the newsstand, its subscriber base is down around 3.2 million, and ad dollars have taken a beating in print."

It won't be long now.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Fall of the Wall?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/02/opinion/nocera-the-fall-of-the-wall.html?_r=0), Joe Nocera writes about Time's past "divide between Church (editorial) and State (advertising and circulation)" and the appointment of Norman Pearlstine as Time's new "chief content officer." Nocera concludes:

"Time Inc. has struggled mightily for the last decade or more. Partly this is because all print publications have struggled in the Internet Age. But it’s also because Time Warner has treated its magazine division as a cash cow. Had it been willing to reinvest in Time Inc. — had it treated its magazine division as something to be nurtured instead of milked — well, perhaps it wouldn’t have had to replace its editor in chief with a chief content officer.

Not surprisingly, when I spoke to Pearlstine on Friday, he insisted that Time Inc.’s journalistic standards would not be compromised. The fact that the magazine’s managing editors will report not only to him, but also to a business executive — another change Ripp announced Thursday — didn’t faze him at all. He praised the model being developed by Forbes magazine, which includes 'sponsored' content alongside the work of its staff writers. He said that the business side would not be able to hire an editor unless he went along with it.

And maybe he’ll turn out to be right. The more likely outcome, though, is that the much-vaunted Church-State divide at Time Inc. is dead.

May it rest in peace."

I am sure Nocera's opinion piece will do wonders for future sales of Time subscriptions.

But Nocera doesn't dare comment on the business philosophy of his own newspaper, The New York Times, which in its pursuit of a brain-dead readership, has undertaken a separation of Newspaper and Reality.

Do you remember how President Obama repeatedly promised:

"And if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen in the future."

Well, as observed by Charles Krauthammer in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obamacare laid bare" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-obamacare-laid-bare/2013/10/31/d229515a-4254-11e3-a624-41d661b0bb78_story.html?hpid=z2):

"Look at how the New York Times covered his 'keep your plan' whopper — buried on page 17 with a headline calling the cancellations a 'prime target.' As if this is a partisan issue and not a brazen falsehood clear to any outside observer — say, The Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler, who gave the president’s claim four Pinocchios. Noses don’t come any longer."

In light of its declining advertising revenues, maybe the owners of The New York Times should reserve a media cemetery plot next to that of Time Magazine, two rows distant from Life.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know, Jeff.
    "Organs" tend to last - Pravda, for example, is still around (I think, too lazy to check) and only the total collapse of the power behind brings them down. I am pretty sure that the original "Der Stuermer" was buried. Oh, now when I think about it ... I'm actually not sure. The NYT does seem like a resurrected "Stuermer." So, the question is what happened to the original NYT.
    Soooo complicated ....

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