Friday, October 23, 2009

Now Fortune Magazine Makes Big Cuts, Reduces Frequency by 25 Percent

Business magazine giant Fortune has joined the club of publications making swingeing reductions in output. The Wall Street Journal reports that the magazine will produce 18 issues next year, down from 25.

Nothing new here, at least in the sense that issue reductions have been made at The Advocate, Esquire, Playboy, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and practically everywhere else. I do, however, hope these reductions are only temperary. I suspect, nonetheless, that many of them will be permanent.

For anyone who shares my desires, there are both troubling and promising words in these comments in the WSJ article:

John Huey, a former Fortune editor who now oversees editorial operations at many Time Inc. magazines, said consumers didn't care how often Fortune is published, and that many of them didn't even know Fortune comes out every other week. Executives decided it was more important for Fortune to be more visible on the Web, where the magazine may add staffers. The magazine itself will become more of a lush-looking premium product. Fortune plans to increase the minimum number of editorial pages in each issue. "We're going to be putting out fewer magazines, but we're going to be investing in the print product we have to make them better magazines," Mr. Huey said.

Consumers don't care how often the magazine is published? If that's the case, your readers don't like your product very much. I, personally, hate to see my favorite periodicals come out less often. I want more of the magazines I read, not less.

On the good side, Huey's comments echo what's said elsewhere in the WSJ article, specifically that the magazine will increase its emphasis on quality long-form journalism. Great move. That's what will keep people coming back to even a less-frequent magazine, and it's a far better move to make than what many (most?) magazines have done to respond to competition from the internet, which is to shorten articles, make them "hipper," and dumb-down the content. Score one more point for Bob Guccione Jr.

I guess in today's marketplace (or, more accurately, with today's MBAs who lead many media organizations), we aren't going to get a publication that gives us more issues and more pages and more quality. We only get one, not all.

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