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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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Pilar Guzman

Photo By Theo Wargo/WireImage for Cookie Magazine

Martha Stewart Living

Photo By Courtesy Photo

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWDStyle issue 03/16/2011

It also doesn’t hurt to have a staff.

“The whole print model allows me to have 30 women who trawl the market who find the best espadrilles for spring,” she said.

But what about Brown, who said that she would never go back to print?

“I guess I’ll have to eat my words,” she said.

And what does having Newsweek do to help The Daily Beast business?

“I think what everyone is realizing is that multiplatform, and certainly dual platform, is a greater commercial idea,” she said. “Advertisers like both forms. And they go well together.”

She added later, “It’s immaterial if print magazines are around in five years or not.”

But how is it immaterial? After all, Politico is sustained, in part, by a print business; Condé Nast still derives only about 10 percent of its revenue from digital; The Hollywood Reporter’s Web traffic can increase 868 percent in March, but no one will ever pay the equivalent for an ad on the Web versus what they will in the magazine.

“In general, it seems that ad rates for even the best Web sites still pale in comparison to the kind of money that can be made through a top-notch print product,” e-mailed Hollywood Reporter editorial director Janice Min. “The shift in spending doesn’t nearly equal the shift in consumption. Even with a robust Web presence, it seems every content provider is still looking to find another platform to bring in other revenue.”

Brown agreed. “You go with the times. If it switches to the tablet, that’s great, too. You have to be fluid.”

And that’s a point everyone is sensitive to.

“I’m very interested in the whole puzzle,” said Guzman, now in her new job at Martha Stewart Living. “I like the print, of course. I still think print is fantastic with the right content. I’m interested in parsing what goes where. What is worthy of print? What is worthy of Web? What is worthy of iPad? And seeing how that all works together.”

And they also can have a sense of humor about it. Needleman wondered if there was anything that seemed more “regressive” then abandoning a start-up to go to a newspaper.

“Could it possibly be any more old-school?” said Needleman, talking about her job at the Journal. “It’s practically 19th century. And that’s what was interesting. It was yet another format. Wow, the broadsheet, what can I do with that?”

She went to the Journal because she was very into the idea of building a section from nothing.

But there’s also one other essential truth about these moves: “What we’ve all done here is say yes to a paycheck,” admitted Needleman.

 

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