Monday, June 09, 2008

And You Thought The Newspaper Business Was Doing Lousy

Quick, Somebody Throw Magazine Publishers A Pity Party

The trials and tribulations that have beset the newspaper business -- highlighted by the perfect storm of simultaneous, precipitous declines in circulation and advertising -- have been well-documented here and many other sources.
Less visible, but no less dramatic, have been the maladies that have overtaken Magazine World, which is often a perilous place to reside even in an up economy.
The ax has been swinging far and wide, especially in trade and B2B pubs. Folio has done yeoman's work keeping track of all of them, including today's announcement of 42 people canned from Penton Media and the 41 no longer collecting paychecks at Reed Business Information, with 10 more out the door at UBM Group, which may now be part of a possible merger (full disclosure: I currently work for another UBM company).
They're among many B2B magazine groups that have either gotten rid of staff or of titles altogether to avoid wading into the Magazine Death Pool.
There is another way to avoid obsolesence or irrelevance, or so U.S. News and World Report hopes. It's going biweekly, conceding as if it really needed to be conceded, that nobody needs them for another take on national and world events.
The magazine was already down to 36 issues, off from 46 issues last year. So what's another 10 editions between friends?
Nowadays, U.S. News has staked its reputation on its lists, best colleges, law schools, hospitals, etc. to gain any traction with the outside world. And those rankings might actually put it in an enviable perch above its newsweekly brethren, which can't claim any such pedigree.
Indeed, both Time and Newsweek have taken some big-time tumbles in circulation this year -- on average about 25 percent -- and now they're in the process of figuring out how to be must-reads rather than merely take up space in waiting rooms.
Good luck with that.

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