Is Print in Vogue Again?

WWD talks with four magazine editors who gave up the ink-stained world for the Web — only to return.

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Deborah Needleman

Photo By Melanie Acevedo

WSJ. Magazine

Photo By Courtesy Photo

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWDStyle issue 03/16/2011

Around the same time, Needleman was building her e-commerce site with Lerer, and after having gone through the gut-wrenching experience of watching a magazine that she built from the ground up suddenly shutter, the idea of having full control seemed pretty appealing.

“I did have a sense that I don’t ever want to work that hard again without being an owner,” she said of her time at Domino.

Her start-up was moving along nicely, too. There was a term sheet drawn up with Condé Nast that would allow Needleman to use the Domino name for the site. But then her interest petered out.

“It was a highly editorialized e-commerce site centered around decorating and the home, which, at the end of the day, no matter how editorialized it is, it’s a commerce business,” she said. “And frankly like retail, distribution, returns, warehousing, margins? I was not waking up passionately thinking about those things. It is not my expertise. It stopped being exciting to me. The editorial stuff is what excites me. Getting super rich would have been exciting, too! But I wasn’t waking up excited waiting to tackle it.”

She told Lerer that she didn’t want to do it, and she took The Wall Street Journal job editing the Off-Duty section and WSJ. magazine shortly thereafter.

Unlike Needleman and Guzman, Holley spent several years on the Web with Yahoo and she adored the no-frills lifestyle of digital life and the incredibly massive audience she was reaching. When she was approached to take over Lucky, she wasn’t thrilled. She said that she did “not want to go back to print.”

“When I started to talk to [Condé Nast editorial director] Tom Wallace, at first I was like, ‘Oh geez, I don’t think I can do that again,’” she said. “But then we just started to talk and it occurred to me this could be amazing.”

She also began to realize that print had some advantages over her channel online.

“There’s nothing like a print magazine to tell you this content is vetted, there’s an army of people behind it and we stand behind it,” she said. “When I joined Lucky and people were like ‘Oh, they’re just going to close the print,’ I was like ‘No! That’s why I took the job.’ If not, I’m just another Name-Your-Women’s Site. It’s because of the print we have this trusted brand thing that’s going to take years and years for the Web to establish.”


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