In the past couple of days, Condé Nast has announced that they are closing four magazines, including the 68-year old Gourmet. I’ve written about the number of ad pages in a newspaper section before, and Condé’s latest actions remind me of Time Inc. (In fact, the parallels are a bit creepy: both Time Inc. and Condé Nast used the same consulting firm, McKinsey, to determine how to cut their budget.) There have been many reports of lower profits in publishing divisions this year.
These closures remind me of a couple of pieces I’ve read on the web recently, including an essay by Clay Shirky, Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable and a piece on Slate regarding Warren Buffet’s views on newspapers. I think the quote at the end of the Buffet story is right on the money:
Simply put, if cable and satellite broadcasting, as well as the internet, had come along first, newspapers as we know them probably would never have existed.
I think the same could be said for many news magazines as well.
I have a lot of friends who work in or with the magazine industry. But I think that it would be unwise to believe that industry will be anything but a boutique industry ten years from now.