Meredith blockbuster deal for Time Inc. the perfect ending to a tumultuous year in publishing

Thoughts on the deal which, when completed, will leave Hearst and Meredith as the two behemoths of the US magazine industry following Hearst’s acquisition of Rodale

The Meredith-Time Inc. deal caught the industry by surprise not so much for it actually being completed, but for the timing of the announcement. An industry that really needed a few days off this year had to hear that one of the nation’s iconic magazine publishers would be acquired by another iconic publishers. NYC publishing people seemed a bit perturbed, as if the money of a company out of Des Moines wasn’t as good as that of an east coast company (many weren’t happy that Chicago-based tronc bought the Daily News, but that is a more complicated situation).

So far, the analysis of the deal feels a bit shallow. The problem is that so many media reporters have backgrounds in the newspaper business, and the trade press that covers magazines is more often than not just cheerleaders and willing to accept at face value what magazine company execs tell them.

So, here some of my own thoughts on this deal, which may come from someone with over 30 years in the publishing business, but also comes from flyover country, so with only with the inside information I have that comes from those I know within both companies.

Why?

That is, how is it even possible that so iconic a publishing company as Time Inc. could get sold off, let alone to a Midwestern competitor?

The sales was preordained the minute Time Warner spun off its print division and saddled it with debt. It would have been heroic work by Joe Ripp, his management team, and the staff, to make a go out of a spun off Time Inc.

But it didn’t help that Time Warner chose the wrong people to run the company. If they were serious about Time Inc. succeeding they would have thought through things a bit and brought in executives with both serious magazine and digital media credibility.

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