The New York Times reports that Time, Inc. is laying off nearly 300 staffers from the editorial and business side of their top magazines. They are also closing their news bureaus in Washington, Miami, Chicago, Austin and Atlanta. The restructuring and cost cutting is being given a positive spin by Ann S. Moore, the Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of Time, Inc. She says the moves will allow them to “sustain our progress” and expand their online efforts as the Internet continues to disrupt old media business models and advertising revenues.
The problem is that Time, Inc. has not made enough progress to date to make a smooth transition to digital properties. By progress, I mean ad sales. I’m sure they can fill in the editorial with stringers and freelancers, but who’s going to pay for the salaries? A quick look at Time.com or People.com revealed only empty sidebars with an Advertising header, but no ads. I find this to be remarkable. Adding insult to injury, Time.com is a co-production of Time and CNN. That means a revenue split. That’s not what Time needs.
It may be impossible for the old media types to reinvent themselves. Reproducing the print version online doesn’t add value. The publications need to be rethought from the point of view of the capabilities that are inherent in a connected social medium. Out with the old model, in with the new.
Add this to the long list of transitions on Time Warner’s plate. From AOL to Warner Brothers, their world is being rocked. I hope they rise to the challenge.