Will Layoffs Slow Publishers’ Digital Initiatives?
How print cutbacks could threaten online growth.
It’s too depressing to enumerate the layoffs that magazines have experienced in the past month or so. [If you’re looking for them, just scroll through FOLIO:’s latest news headlines.]
As print publishing has been hit hard, many companies have made the move to reorganize its resources with an online focus. As Lloyd Trufelman, the president of Trylon SMR, noted in a recent PRWeek story:
“I’m not aware of a single major magazine, especially a trade magazine, that hasn’t realized that its future is on the Web, and [publishers] are grappling with how to make that transition,” adding that while many consumers were alarmed when Hearst decided to fold CosmoGIRL in October and continue in a Web-only presence, the publisher was acting in a forward-looking manner. “[The reaction] should have been the other way around, because [the Internet is] where the kids are and [Hearst] made a very smart magazine decision.”
In addition to CosmoGIRL’s continued web-only presence, Radar’s shuttering left its Web remains, Radaronline.com, to American Media, Inc., while Hearst’s Quick and Simple folded with the intention of shifting its focus to the 300,000-circulation magazine’s “newly-enhanced Web site.” B-to-b publishers like Source, Nielsen and F+W have also reorganized edit staffs to revolve around online.
While it’s clear that publishers recognize online as the next frontier, could staff cutbacks end up slowing digital growth? Layoffs at Mansueto Ventures, publisher of Fast Company, forced its standalone online group to merge with its print department. With Mansueto digital president Ed Sussman departing the company to form a social publishing firm based on open source content management system Drupal, it appears that even a leading, progressive publisher may find it difficult—if not impossible—to allocate sufficient resources to expanding and executing Web-specific initiatives.