When will they ever learn?

John Koblin writes a v good piece in this week’s Observer on the state of magazines online post-crash and it’s a mixed totebag with some magazines – The New Yorker seems to be the poster child – getting it at last but its parent company not getting it – indeed throwing ‘it’ on the ground and stomping on it:

“We work in the high-end market,” said our Condé Nast source. “We’re going to stick to it and we might be the last one standing, but that’s our philosophy. The Web isn’t really a priority.”

Ouch. My emphasis. Having worked on their online sites in the earliest days – and then suffering through no shortage of the infamous Conde Nast politics, taking my share of spike heels in soft tissue – I think this is a pity.

I’ve long believed that magazines should have great potential online because they already have communities of shared interest. And though magazines still – today – have franchises and value in print, it would be foolish, even suicidal to ignore other media already overtaken by the internet tidal wave. Music drowned. TV learned from that and started streaming online. Newspapers are going down for the third and last time. Magazines haven’t learned from that. The glossy monthlies may think they’re safe because they’re glossy but Time Magazine used to be huge and now it’s so thin I could use it to cut cheese. The weeklies, with their high costs and general interests, are dying just behind newspapers. Will the monthlies be next? I wouldn’t gamble against it, as some magazine publishers are doing.