Time: how the digital age became the iconic magazines unlikely savior

Mark and Lynne Benioff are the latest entrepreneurs to make a bet on old media with their $190 m Time purchase. Should tech billionaires own our biggest report stores?


In February, Time magazine’s epithet was stripped from its headquarters in lower Manhattan. America’s most well known magazine seemed headed for the wastepaper bin of history, another victim of the digital age. Now, the digital age has come to save it.

Last week, Marc Benioff, the billionaire the founding fathers of application services corporation Salesforce, and his wife Lynne bought Time for $190 m. The acquire came only one year after the 95 -year-old news magazine had been acquired by Family Circle publisher Meredith as part of a package of titles of which Time looked like the unwanted stepchild.

There was applause in the agency last Monday when the editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal, told staff about the sale.” We knew from the start- and Marc and Lynne said the same thing publicly- that this could be a really terrific fit ,” Felsenthal told Columbia Journalism Review. But once the clapping succumbs down, big questions remain to be answered. Is there is space for a weekly report magazine in an era where the world carries all the news it needs- with forever pinging updates- on its telephone? And is it genuinely a good thing that tech’s billionaires are the new press barons?

Benioff joins a battery of tech billionaires who have recently made a bet on old-time media: Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post; Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple’s Steve Jobs, owns majority decisions stake in the Atlantic; Patrick Soon-Shiong, a surgeon and tech entrepreneur, owns the Los Angeles Times.

Do they see something the national media- and Wall Street- don’t? Samir Husni, head of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, and such an unapologetic fan of publication that he’s know as” Mr Magazine”, supposes the answer is yes.” These people realize legacy media much more than the folks working in legacy media ,” he said.

Time still sells 2m prints a few weeks and is profitable. Divorced from the pressures of being a small, unloved cog in a public corporation subject to the quarterly necessitates of Wall street, Time can flourish, he said , not least because Time is a label with power in an epoch where authority is lacking.” Time’s legacy helps mitigate against the idea of fake report ,” he said.” Time has a special place in the history of journalism .”

The magazine will need to offer depth and excellence and be digitally savvy, said Husni, but the brand is well placed to survive the tempestuou seas now submerge many in the news media. And it’s still massive publication pas is another major resource, he believes , not additional burdens.” No one can show me a publisher that has subsisted after vacating its imprint edition ,” he said.

Tech moguls can also delivering something that the news industry urgently needs- new ideas, said Jeff Jarvis, who invested 10 times working at Time Inc and is now director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism.

Benioff’s Salesforce is expert in customer relation administration( CRM) application, something any news organization necessities, and Bezos’s Amazon knows its patrons in ways most media organizations can only dream of, he argues.

” These guys deliver expertise that can really benefit the industry ,” he said.” It’s not just about the money. It’s about new the vision and new abilities .”

Kyle Pope:’ I think what you are seeing is that there is a render of extremely wealthy people who encounter appreciate in fixing their calls to these labels .’ Photograph: Mark Lennihan/ AP

But he’s not sold on Time’s long-term future as a weekly news publication.” I used to buy magazines by the pound, they had to double-bag them. I never buy them now .” In a world-wide where a reader in New York can get her news from the Guardian and a Berliner can speak the New York Times, a weekly “homogenized” US news digest publication “il go to” strife no matter who has its back, said Jarvis.

Kyle Pope, Columbia Journalism Review’s editor and former editor-in-chief of the New York Observer and deputy editor of CondeNast Portfolio magazine, has become still more circumspect.” Yes, it’s the golden age of the weekly publication publication ,” he joked.

” I think there is room for Time ,” he says.” In this climate there are a handful of titles that are safe, iconic labels. I think what you are seeing is that there is a supply of extremely wealthy people who realise value in attaching their identifies to these brands, and I think that’s why they are going to survive. Is there a reason to look at this and was hoped about the business framework of journalism? The short answer to that is no .”

There’s something off about journalists celebrating bailouts by super-rich saviours, said Pope. The mind that” correspondents who are supposed to adoration taking on “the mens”” are so happy to take their cash is” erm, moderately entertaining”, he said.

The current environ hearkens back to the days of press nobles like William Randolph Hearst, the son of a millionaire mining tycoon who built the US’s largest newspaper chain, or Rupert Murdoch, who both use their books to push their own agendas.

So far the new plutocrats have- in the main- been good owneds. Bezos has invested heavily in the Washington Post and seems to have retained his promise of keeping out of the paper’s editorial decisions.” But one can easily suppose a scenario where that doesn’t run so well ,” he said.” With all of these people you can imagine scenarios where their business concerns clash with their editorial ones and it gets ugly .”

There have already been recent examples of rich humen tiring of their new dolls and the pressures of operating a media company. Last time Joe Ricketts, the billionaire the founding fathers of TD Ameritrade, shut down Gothamist and DNAinfo after its novelists voted to unionize. Peter Barbey, heir to the VF Corporation retail empire, proprietor of Vans, Timberland, North Face and other labels, recently shut downthe Village Voice after killing its publish edition.

In another period this tendency of super rich buying media icons would be something people would be very apprehensive of, said Pope.” I think it says something about the state of the business of journalism that it is the only hope we have got ,” said Pope.

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ media/ 2018/ sep/ 22/ time-magazine-marc-benioff-billionaires-news-companies

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