An institution begins the slide

I suppose there are many who will lament the first step in the demise of New York magazine. I tend to see it more as reason for good cheer:

This week’s announcement that New York magazine was becoming a biweekly was greeted, in my profession, with the sort of cheer that might herald the announcement of a sewer line backup or a mid-honeymoon appendectomy.

New York magazine is very successful. Its editor is very well regarded, and it wins lots of awards. It gets scads of Web traffic. It publishes magazine features that win the admiration of fellow journalists and has also become practically ubiquitous on social media. And, apparently, it still can’t pay the bills as a weekly publication. Hearing that New York magazine can’t make it as a weekly is, for a professional journalist, rather like being told that your teddy bear has cancer. How is that even possible?

The answer is that the circulation of print magazines is declining, while advertising revenue has taken a suicidal plunge. Companies who wanted to inform people about their firm’s activities used to have basically three choices: print media, television or radio. (OK, four if you count billboards.) These were all media companies, and they used the money corporations gave them to produce news.

What I find remarkable is how many of these institutions will glumly permit themselves to sink into oblivion without ever doing anything to significantly address the core issues. CNN is going to try to compete with every other network showing reality shows rather than make any attempt to appeal to the other half of the ideological spectrum. New York magazine has gone to a biweekly rather than attempt to broaden its appeal beyond liberals who live in New York and liberals who wish they did.

As technology gradually kills the liberal media’s ability to maintain its monopoly, it becomes ever more obvious that media was never first and foremost a business, but rather a giant propaganda machine wherein profit was an incidental bonus rather than its fundamental rationale.