Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Digging The Grave of Business Magazines Real Easy When You Don't Have a Clue

Douglas McIntyre and 24/7 Wall Street Again Prognosticate in a Vacuum

Analyzing the state of business magazines and forecasting their imminent doom in their current form is the media equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. Yet, somehow 24/7 Wall Street misses the mark.
The Web site has a missive from media doomsayer Douglas McIntyre with all sorts of "the sky is falling" perspectives on the state of things at Fortune, Forbes and Business Week.
Some of it's true and obvious, i.e. ads are waaaaay down. McIntyre makes the case that come the end of the year, one or all of them will continue to exist but not in their current forms and makes his case with web traffic numbers and ad revenues.
Fine, at least to a point. But then he pisses away his thesis with observations like these:

Fortune could decrease its frequency of publication to monthly and rely on the Internet to cover current news.

C'mon, is Fortune really in the business of covering news in print? Nah, never really has been. It's about profiles, investigations, looking at the big picture, the Fortune 500. News is not on its radar. And monthly? The folks who used to work at Portfolio could tell you how that worked out.
McIntyre issues a similar prescription for Forbes, which he says wouldn't be a big deal because its Web site is so successful and its readers are already accustomed to going online. But at the same time he also states Forbes' online revenue isn't growing. And how would reducing frequency change that? We never get an answer.
As for Business Week, McIntyre may be on to something. Maybe.

No matter what McGraw-Hill does, BusinessWeek will not be a weekly magazine with over 200 employees and a rate base of 900,000 at the end of the year. BusinessWeek will have to become a much, much smaller operation.

Of course, anyone who's opened a copy of Business Week lately (the latest issue is all of 76 pages), knows it can't get much smaller.
Less frequent, yes. Leaner? Ditto. But smaller? You're there already.

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