Conde Nast cuts digital costs to protect print

In a forthcoming column, I argue that things will start to cut up rough for consumer magazine publishers in the New Year. On the other side of the Atlantic, it’s starting to happen already.

The New York Times reckons that Conde Nast has ordered 5% cuts in budgets across the company.

There’s no mention of the UK in the piece. But Conde Nast has cut three editorial posts at Wired.com, reducing its staff to 25.

Portfolio, the all-singing, all-dancing business magazine that launched in April 2007, will go from 12 to 10 print editions per year. Around 15%-20% of the jobs associated with the title will go.

As it turns out, the main burden of the cuts will fall upon Portfolio’s online operation. Exclusive web-only content will be nixed and “most of Portfolio’s web site staff [will be] dismissed”.

Conde Nast will be the first of many consumer publishers to go down this route. The logic isn’t hard to grasp; you just follow the money. In this equation, web content = big costs and small revenues.

But downsizing web operations to safeguard your core business in print isn’t a sensible step for any publisher.

We’re reaching the stage at which recession has started to undercut media owners’ ability to invest in the future.

NB: The New York Times reports that between January and September, ad volumes in all US-published magazines were down by 9.5% YOY.

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