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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Running backwards

Who says you need that newfangled car. Why
Whisper does just fine, said Phineas Lehman,

2 Editors Resign at Web Site Linked to Journalism Review

Published: August 11, 2006

The managing editor of, an online adjunct of The Columbia Journalism Review, and his deputy both quit yesterday after the dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism told them he was cutting the site’s budget nearly in half.

The dean, Nicholas Lemann, said in an interview that the amount of money raised for the Web site could not sustain the online staff, and he was using a portion of the magazine’s discretionary money for a direct-mail campaign to try to increase subscriptions to the print magazine. The journalism review, which comes out six times a year, has a circulation of 20,000.

Mr. Lemann said he was faced with the same quandary confronting most news organizations today — how to pay for an online staff when the site is free to readers.

The Web site will soon start to sell advertising, hold conferences and sell archival material, he said, but even that revenue will not support the cost of the staff. He said he had been “out fund-raising every day,” but had not scraped together enough to finance the site at full strength.

Both Steve Lovelady, 63, the managing editor, who had been managing editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and deputy Page 1 editor of The Wall Street Journal, and Bryan Keefer, 28, the assistant managing editor, resigned in protest yesterday.

“It’s a fundamental policy dispute about the allocation of resources,” Mr. Lovelady said. “Nick has decided to spend the money on a direct-mail campaign for the magazine, in hopes of saving subscription revenue. To me, that sounds like something out of the 19th century. He’s taking the one, fresh, smart thing he has and gutting it.”


The journalism school started the Web site in 2004, with the help of foundation grants, to scrutinize the mainstream media’s coverage of the presidential campaign.

The site, which was originally named, was supposed to last for the duration of the campaign. But its cheeky tone and its quick, often-incisive analysis of political news proved so popular that Mr. Lemann and others decided to extend its life and broaden its scope to cover the entire media landscape. Thus was born
“I don’t think print is going away,” he said. “Keeping the print magazine brings in revenue, and print can do some things that the Web can’t.”

Jay Rosen, a blogger and journalism professor at New York University, said the move was a “strategic error” and that the review should drop its print version to reduce costs and go entirely online.

“I’m sure their current subscribers want it in print, but you have to look at your potential subscribers,” he said. “Since the profession is going toward the Web, in the long run, that’s the smarter move.”
Rosen is right.

Instead of killing a successful operation, why not promote it better online?

But then Lehman had just shit on bloggers in the New Yorker, so he has no interest in dealing with them.

posted by Steve @ 12:41:00 AM

12:41:00 AM

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