newspaper

Are publishers obsolete?

In the magazine and newspaper business, saving by eliminating duplication and a search for profitable digital products seems to be driving change.

In both kinds of media, top editors are now charged with intimate involvement with business initiatives. I also notice an increase in the number of magazine editors amping up personification of the brand with TV appearances or prominent columns. Single titles may be a special case. Bosses at family-controlled companies, such as Arthur Sulzberger of The New York Times or Jim Moroney at A.H. Belo’s Dallas Morning News, also carry the publisher title. The Tampa Bay Times has rarely had a publisher and doesn’t now. In magazines, 90-year old Hugh Hefner stepped aside in stages at Playboy, which he created in the 1950s.

Old-guard ‘publishers’ look like a 20th century throwback.

We need a few more data points, but maybe a meet-in-the-middle dynamic is in progress. Legacy media are at pains to show they are not stuck in the past. Digital companies, as they grow into maturity, may also want to signal continuity.

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