Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Why You’re Losing Your Magazine Job

Everyone knows why magazine companies like Time Warner’s (TWX) Time Inc. and Condé Nast are shedding people left and right: They’re shedding ad dollars left and right. But sometimes a visual really does help drive the point home. So thanks to MediaPost for this graph, which is based off ad sales data from magazine trade publisher Media Industry Newsletter:

But if you really want to know why things are really grim in the magazine world, don’t just pay attention to the right side of the graph, where ad pages plummet like Wile E. Coyote off a cliff. Look over at the left side, which shows that even before the econalypse hit, magazines were essentially flat.

That is, magazines aren’t just getting hurt by the economy–they’re getting pummeled by a fundamental shift of ad dollars away from print and to the Web.

So: Anyone who wants to stay in the magazine world needs to contemplate a career on the Web, right? Right. Except it’s unclear how many jobs the Web is going to offer, since digital content is worth so much less than its analog counterpart, at least in the eyes of advertisers. More on that later. No need to pile on the grimness on a Monday morning.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work