Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Mass Editorial Exodus At New Republic As Media Industry Woes Accelerate

Posted by Tom Foremski - December 5, 2014

Politico

Turmoil at the venerable New Republic. Dylan Byers at Politico reports:

Nine of the magazine's twelve senior editors submitted letters of resignation to owner Chris Hughes and chief executive Guy Vidra, as did two executive editors, the digital media editor, the legislative affairs editor, and two arts editors. At least twenty of the magazine's contributing editors also requested that their names be removed from the magazine's masthead.

The mass departure came one day after a shakeup that saw the resignation of top editor Franklin Foer and veteran literary editor Leon Wieseltier, both of whom resigned due to differences of vision with Hughes, a 31-year-old Facebook co-founder who bought the magazine in 2012. Foer announced his resignation on Thursday after discovering that Hughes had already hired his replacement, Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who formerly ran The Atlantic Wire blog.

Foremski's Take: The decisions taken by the owners of the New Republic are being dictated by the economics of the media business, which leaves a slim margin for strategic positioning. The protests by its editorial staff are brave but they cannot change the economics of the business.

Everyone is bound by the same economics of the media industry, which requires chasing the same dwindling ad revenues by running ever faster just to stay still.

On top of this, the move to mobile is creating a second apocalypse for the media industry because revenues are as much as one-tenth below desktop. You can't show ten times as many ads on mobile to make up the lost revenues because you wouldn't see any content. 

The New Republic has to become a vanity venture if it is to retain its distinct history and position. It is a foolish strategy to chase traffic as Buzzfeed, et al. Because they will all look like the same magazine with the same stories driven by pageviews. Pageview journalism takes away editorial choice. 

Plus, the New Republic doesn't have the scale to chase the big numbers. 

Problematic programmatic...

The rise of programmatic ad trading is problematic because it makes it hard to sell advertisers face to face on the qualities of a particular magazine. Programmatic measures short-term results rather than long-term advertiser Brand positioning and media partnering.

As more magazines fold the big Brands are having to do more publishing themselves. But being a media company is hard and very expensive. The Brands don't have the editorial processes in place and every piece of content is tremendously costly to produce.

Then add the costs of driving traffic to that article. Then do it again, and again, and keep feeding the daily beast.

Every company doesn't want to be a media company...

The big Brands will wish there existed an independent third-party media industry with which they could work to get their stories told -- like in the old days. Well, they should have supported credible media titles with advertising that was bought at a premium rather than bought at rock-bottom prices through ad trading dashboards.

They should have worked to ensure their media partners survived and continued to produce quality content -- from which their advertising benefits by association. 

Too bad the Brands are so short-sighted. It's going to be a very costly mistake.

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