Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hard Times in New York (Magazine) Town

Well, it's up in the mornin' tryin' to find a job of work.
Stand in one place till your feet begin to hurt.
If you got a lot o' money you can make yourself merry,
If you only got a nickel, it's the Staten Island Ferry.
And it's hard times in the city,
Livin' down in New York town.

—Bob Dylan, "Hard Times in New York Town"
This week and last have not been good for magazine publishing in New York. First it was announced that the twice- or thrice-dead-already Radar would again be folding; then it came down that Rolling Stone would axe seven staffers and Time Inc. would lay off 600 employees. This story in The New York Times detailed the cuts at magazines and in other city industries.

Earlier this week, it was announced that the 100-year-old Christian Science Monitor newspaper—which, despite the name, has always been pretty respected—would shutter its print operation, electing henceforth to publish only on the web (and in a forthcoming weekend magazine).

And then today: It has been reported by Gawker and The Observer that editors and publishers at all titles of the giant of giants in the magazine business, Conde Nast, have been ordered to trim their staff levels and budgets by five percent. (For those who don't know, Conde Nast publishes The New Yorker, GQ, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and many more magazines, and has long had a reputation in the industry for being a citadel of prestige and indifference to market conditions.)

Most sad to me are what's happening to Portfolio and Men's Vogue, detailed in the links behind "The" and "Observer." I always liked Portfolio's quirky, off-center covers—they made you stop and take notice, unlike most business magazines' covers—and I'm a subscriber to Men's Vogue.

Long story short? It's bad out there for those in the publishing industry, and getting worse. If you have a job, be thankful. If you don't, learn to pick rutabagas and perfect your hobo diction.

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