Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Checking Your Portfolio

A day after the announcement that Portfolio magazine has been canceled, the blog and news worlds are filling up with people who are suddenly noticing the magazine.

BusinesWeek has an extended description of the big money behind this ambitious failure.

The Daily Beast's Tina Brown at least shares my view that the magazine's demise is a loss, not a reason for anti-print people to gloat.

The New York Observer reports that under different economic circumstances, the magazine might have survived; earlier, it at least had until 2010 to live or die, according to one source.

Blogger Erick Schonfeld get it wrong, I think. He says no one was reading the magazine and that long-form journalism is useless in an age when "business is about speed." Well, no, business is not primarily about speed. Certain aspects of it, perhaps; but if no one is reading in-depth examinations about the ways companies fail or survive or how regulation and markets work together, then that's a very sad (and disturbing and, frankly, three-alarm danger), because we're seeing very clearly these days the disastrous results of short-term-only thinking. Portfolio's different view on the matter was why I liked it. And nearly 450,000 readers is not a small amount. Big magazines typically take three or four years to reach a level of success; we'll never know what Portfolio could have done in a different economic cycle. Or how our economic cycle might have been better these days had more people paid attention to Portfolio.

David Kaplan at PaidContent.org offers some news in the form of a slim chance that portfolio.com might somehow survive the print mag's demise. That would probably make Schonfeld happy.

And James Ledbetter at The Big Money ponders how the magazine might have survived.

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