CJR: Investing in steam, coal, and paper

Columbia J-school Dean Nick Lemann cut the staff of the CJRDaily.org to invest more in selling subscriptions to the stale print magazine. How’s that for two steps backward with none forward? I’d have killed the magazine; converted to online with no cost for printing, distribution, and subscription sales; taken advertising online; invited free content from the public; invited contributions; and rolled the dice on the future, not the past. CJR online’s ME, Steve Lovelady, and AME, Bryan Keefer, both quit rather than oversee the shrinkage of the online property, and Lovelady said:

It’s a fundamental policy dispute about the allocation of resources. Nick has decided to spend the money on a direct-mail campaign for the magazine, in hopes of raising subscription revenue. To me, that sounds like something out of the 19th century. He’s taking the one, fresh, smart thing he has and gutting it.

By the way, I remain eager for Lemann to join in the conversation his New Yorker piece sparked. I’ve received emails promising to respond soon. When I hear, I’ll pass it on.