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If Only Magazines Didn't Build Web Sites

This and other savvy business insight from The Atlantic's Michael Hirschorn.

Bill Mickey By Bill Mickey
07/15/2009 -10:30 AM

I'm all for the idea of supplementing online article content with videos, but doing it just for the sake of having some 'multimedia' can stretch the point a bit too far.

Take the case of an otherwise great Atlantic story by contributing editor Michael Hirschorn called 'The Newsweekly's Last Stand.' In it, Hirschorn describes The Economist's teflon resistance to the ad crash and Time and Newsweek's struggles with obsolescence.

Embedded in the middle of the story is a video interview between Hirschorn and Bob Cohn,'s editorial director, which follows the familiar format of editor and writer revealing a behind-the-scenes look at the story. The trouble with this approach is sometimes the conversation veers out of the safe confines of the reporting and into nutty conjecture. (Admittedly, the story and video have been up for almost a month, but I’m just getting around to them now.)

In other words, this interview could have been about 44 seconds shorter. At the 5:45 mark, Cohn asks Hirschorn why The Economist didn't get "clobbered by the Web" like the other newsweeklies. This is where things get sketchy. Hirschorn goes on to say that because The Economist's Web strategy was so bad, people valued the print version more.

Got that? The magazine is thriving today because it didn't jump on that crazy Internet train like all those other suckers.

But wait, it gets better. Hirschorn continues by asking semi-rhetorically, "What would have happened if newspapers and magazines had not embraced the Web?"

Amazingly, the video concludes as he answers his own question this way: "It's entirely possible that if newspapers and magazines had not embraced the Web, that newspapers and magazines would be doing a lot better right now."

Bill Mickey By Bill Mickey -- Bill Mickey is editor of Folio:. Follow him on Twitter: @billmickey

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