Despite the uncertain future, when it comes to business media, it appears some things never change — especially as Condé Nast Portfolio elbows its way into the field. Word recently rippled through the sector that Forbes was allegedly misleading media buyers by not breaking out the numbers for ForbesLife, its six-times-a-year lifestyle magazine that is polybagged with the fortnightly. That proved untrue: in terms of ad pages, ForbesLife is manifestly counted as a supplement, and it doesn't get its own circulation figures on the ABC statement because it isn't distributed separately.
The rumor was traced back to Shah. A spokeswoman for Time Inc.'s business and finance group confirmed Shah had "mentioned Forbes" in a conversation with a senior media buyer, but only to question the Publishers Information Bureau ad page metric as "an irrelevant measure of how our business is going," given that it doesn't represent Internet sales. Shah has reason to make that point. While CNNMoney is broadly heralded as a success, Fortune's ad pages were down 17.5 percent in the first half of the year, and in the same period, Money's pages declined 25.7 percent, Fortune Small Business' by 18.2 percent and Business 2.0's by 34.1 percent. (Forbes posted a decline of 3.4 percent in pages but reported a revenue rise of 8.8 percent). — Irin Carmon