Time to Tweak Your Business Model?
On Tuesday, March 31, my daily Web prowl came across the mention of a major story about The New York Times Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. in the upcoming May issue of Vanity Fair.
I hied over to VanityFair.com and found the story, which I downloaded into my archive. The tedious, 11,415-word piece could be compressed into a four-word sentence: “Pinch is a weenie.”
But Pinch is not the story here. While I was at it, I downloaded articles about Rush Limbaugh; hottie cover girl Gisele Bündchen; Christopher Hitchens’ piece on Lebanon; a long story about the rich, conservative and powerful who attend summer blowouts in Northern California’s Bohemian Grove; and James Walcott’s “What’s Wrong with Washington.” I also swiped some terrific illustrations. Whereupon, I went away to ponder my loot—33,339 words plus pictures, the entire worthwhile contents of the issue.
All this was free from Vanity Fair. I paid nothing—nada, zip, niente. Were any advertisers on the scene hoping for a clickthrough? I didn’t notice.
What’s more, this material was in my computer and in my head a good week and a half before the May issue of VF hit the newsstands and two weeks before subscribers received it in their mailboxes. Meanwhile, VF’s insecure publisher and editors are so desperate for affirmation and buzz that they're happy to screw paying customers, causing them to be one-upped at cocktail parties by computer geeks like me.
Which takes us back to the lede from IN THE NEWS elsewhere on this page:
Multiple sources tell us that 20 or more employees were laid off at Condé Nast Digital today.
What’s wrong with this picture?
How Much Do Up-market Magazines Pay Writers?
As I recall, Calvin Trillin once wrote that The Nation publisher Victor Navasky paid "in the high two figures" for an article. Writers for The New York Times Magazine and Vanity Fair do a bit better. From New York Times Editor Gerry Marzorati’s keynote address at the 2009 CASE Editors Forum: