December 2, 2016 Last Updated 1:05 pm

Time Inc. consolidates digital desk as sale rumors continue; anxiety grows in the Australian magazine industry

Friday Brief: Bauer announces the closing of teen magazine title Dolly as publishers down under trim their portfolios in reaction to print advertising declines

The next M&A circus, following the tronc-Gannett show, appears to be Time Inc. – or, at least, that is what some media observers seem to think. Rumors are once again growing that Meredith might have an interest in Time Inc. titles, and Keith Kelly at the NY Post mentions Hearst having an interest in some titles, assuming they would be sold off separately.

It would be good to remind people that we have been down this road once before. Before the decision to spin off the company, Time Warner wanted to sell the Time Inc. portfolio, but found that prospective buyers were only interested in acquisitions if they could selectively pick off desired brands. Time Warner didn’t like that idea because that would leave them holding what would be left over.

I don’t think that much has changed except that new CEO Rich Battista is moving the company in a direction away from print magazines and might be tempted to divest titles if enough sales could be cobbled together.

Meanwhile, the company is quickly reorganizing itself in such a way that any buyer would be getting a list, an editor, an archive, and little else. In other words, there is time crunch here where with each quarter the prospective sales will be dropping in value. At the same, thanks to the sale rumors, the Time Inc. stock has risen in value, making an acquisition of the whole company that much more expensive – and therefore that much more unlikely. But if the CEO is being rewarded for stock performance, he is sure to be happy right now.

NY Post, Keith Kelly:

Time Inc. exec in Rome for global forum amid bidding war

realsimple-dec16-250(Time Inc. CEO Rich) Battista is among a handful of leading business executives in Rome this weekend for the Fortune and Time Global Forum, which will feature an address on Saturday by the Holy Father.

Any wisdom will be welcome. Back on the home front, Battista is dealing with the prospect of his company being in play…

…Days after The Post reported on the bid, speculation began swirling that Meredith — publisher of Better Homes and Gardens and other titles — which had broken off merger talks with Time three years ago, might reenter the fray and trigger a bidding war.

Some media insiders are whispering that if Time Inc. is purchased and the new owner or owners look to sell off some titles to pare down the cost of the purchase, then Hearst would be more than willing to take a look at a title or two — like Real Simple and In Style.

Digiday, Lucia Moses:

In the wake of declines, Time Inc. centralizes digital desks

With print advertising on the wane, big publishing houses are looking to be as efficient as possible. That’s the situation Time Inc. finds itself in. The No. 1 U.S. magazine publisher is creating 10 digital desks that will help it grow audience faster by pooling its editorial resources.

The new structure, announced December 1, calls for pooling individual titles’ resources in topic areas already covered by multiple brands, including food, celebrity, entertainment, health and home. According to a memo from chief content officer Alan Murray, each will be led by an editor whose job will be to grow overall audience for their topics by coordinating coverage that can work across brands, whether it’s around a recurring event like Thanksgiving or news like changes in national health care policy…

…It’s a sign of the times at legacy publishing companies; bowing to the same realities, Hearst formed a centralized digital news team to supply its 18 glossy magazines like Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping with content that can run across multiple titles. USA Today has a national news desk. The walls are even coming down at the famously siloed Condé Nast, where staffers expect certain editorial functions to be combined across its glossies.



The same sort of angst concerning the future of the magazine industry we saw start here in the US a few years ago has made its way to Australia, where one podcast even wonders if there will even be an Australian magazine industry in the future. Yes, there will be. But like in the US, it will be smaller, with fewer titles in each category – but there will be an industry.

News.com.au, James Weir:

Dolly magazine’s print edition axed after 46 years

dollymag-nov-dec-16-300Bauer Media announced on Wednesday it would pull the pin on the print edition of the iconic teen girl magazine after 46 years. The decision comes just seven months after the publisher decided to reduce the magazine to a bimonthly print edition and focus on digital platforms.

Wilkinson, who at 21 became the youngest editor to helm the publication in 1981, mourned the end of the magazine, saying media executives perhaps weren’t quick enough to evolve digitally.

“I’m incredibly sad hearing the news and feel for all the journalists who are losing their jobs but in the ever-changing world — and possibly an industry that was slow to recognise the changes that were happening at warped speed — it looks like it was inevitable,” she told news.com.au.



If you need any proof that magazines will survive, I suggest looking at what is going on over at The Atlantic. I guess one could say that proof of the titles resurgence should come with a review of the publisher’s earnings (that what I, as a publisher, would say), but editorially I think The Atlantic is killing it.

I judge a magazine, editorially, not on whether I want to read every single article it produces in print or online, but whether I consistently find myself picking it up or going to its website because of an article I really, really want to read. If this happens occasionally, or through the efforts of one author, that is one thing – but if you are regularly reading content produced by the title, then this is a great sign that things are clicking at the magazine.

David Graham covers politics for The Atlantic, but here he writes about Charles Lloyd, whose newish CD, I Long to See You, is worth a spin (as they say). This piece ran yesterday, and today he is writing about Rep. Keith Ellison and his efforts to become chair of the DNC.

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The Atlantic, David A. Graham:

The Re-Flowering: Charles Lloyd’s Second Golden Age

The fulcrum of I Long to See You is Lloyd’s collaboration with Frisell, who was inspired by seeing Lloyd decades ago. Frisell is a particular kindred spirit; like Lloyd, he is almost jarringly sincere. Both have been drawn to recording folk songs. Both men have a penchant for making music that is so superficially beautiful that it can disguise just how complex, thorny, and challenging it is.

“The first time we played he said, ‘I’m looking forward to singing together with you.’ That’s totally what it is, what it feels like. I can’t sing, my guitar is my voice, and it really feels like you’re just, hugging each other, something, singing,” Frisell said. “He’s definitely one of the greatest singers alive today, for sure.” (Interestingly, Lloyd noted something very similar: “I wanted to be a singer when I was 3 or 4. I didn’t have the voice for it. And then when I was about my 9, my mother finally broke down and got me a saxophone and then I could sing through it.”)

Keeping with the music theme, this was from earlier this week, and the broadcast mentioned is today:

The New York Times, Michael Cooper:

Second-Ever Concert of Stravinsky’s Lost ‘Funeral Song’ to Stream Free

An early Stravinsky work that was performed just once, in 1909, and then disappeared during the Russian Revolution will finally receive its second performance on Friday. The recently rediscovered piece will be conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, in a concert that will be streamed online, free of charge.

The long-lost piece, “Funeral Song,” a 12-minute orchestral work that Stravinsky wrote when he was 26 to mark the death of his teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, was rediscovered in 2015 amid masses of scores at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Scholars consider it a missing link between his youthful efforts and the ballets (including “The Firebird,” “Petrushka” and “The Rite of Spring”) with which he made his international reputation in the years that followed.

Mr. Gergiev will lead the Mariinsky Orchestra in “Funeral Song,” which will be performed alongside “Firebird” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s suite from “The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh,” to begin a yearlong celebration of Stravinsky’s music. The concert will be streamed online on medici.tv, and on Facebook on Friday at 2 p.m. New York time.

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