Spinoff takes Time Inc. back to the future

Spinoff takes Time Inc. back to the future
Ken Doctor said the flagship weekly Time magazine is "largely anachronistic" and that it's not clear how it can compete in the fast-moving world of journalism.

WASHINGTON - Storied magazine publisher Time Inc. gets a fresh start with its upcoming spinoff as an independent company in a challenging and fast-changing media landscape.

The split highlights the woes of print journalism, which has been suffering for years from a move to digital news.

The June 6 move split the magazine arm - including the famed Time newsweekly, Fortune, People and Sport Illustrated - from media giant Time Warner, ending a marriage that merged the two firms in 1990.

The new firm is the latest publishing spinoff from a big conglomerate. It comes on the heels of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. splitting its entertainment and publishing segments, and a similar action planned by Tribune Co.

Time Warner "is dumping the magazines to save themselves from continual losses year after year," said Nikki Usher, a George Washington University professor specialising in new media.

Ken Doctor, analyst at the research firm Outsell, agreed, saying "this is an affirmation that print-based publishing assets have no growth prospects."

But analysts said an independent Time Inc. will have a chance to refocus with an improved strategy for the magazines and their integration with online services.

"I would expect some selling of assets, and maybe some buying," Doctor told AFP.

He said the flagship weekly Time magazine is "largely anachronistic" and that it's not clear how it can compete in the fast-moving world of journalism.

The new company, he added, must decide whether it wants to focus on breaking news and long-form journalism, or "lifestyle" titles such as Food & Wine and Travel & Leisure.

"The early magazines created by Henry Luce may be the least valuable," he said. "So Time may want to go the lifestyle route."

Usher said that if the new firm wants to compete in daily journalism, it needs to invest more to cover breaking news for its digital clients and long-form journalism for print.

"A lot of the best writers are producing for the weekly cycle but there is a need to fill that 24/7 Web environment," she told AFP.

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