Tag Archives: Conde Nast Portfolio

ACBJ could take over Portfolio site

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John Koblin of the New York Observer is reporting that Charlotte-based American City Business Journals has expressed an interest in taking over the Web site of the now-closed Conde Nast Portfolio magazine.

Koblin writes, “American City Business Journals, which is operated by Condé Nast parent company Advance Publications, ‘has expressed real interest in taking it over,’ according to a source.

“But the relaunch wouldn’t come out of 4 Times Square: ACBJ is based in Charlotte, N.C. (is Big Business really leaving us for this Southern dame?), though the new portfolio.com would have a New York office.

“Immediately after the magazine folded, Ad Age reported that ACBJ wanted to take portfolio.com over, but that earlier deal fell through.

“If they get a green light, expect a very small staff to be working on it, including former portfolio.com staffers.”

Read more here.

Loeb finalists announced

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The finalists for the 2009 Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism were announced Wednesday morning.

The Loeb Awards are the highest honors in business journalism. They were established in 1957 by Gerald Loeb, a founding partner of E. F. Hutton, to encourage quality reporting in the areas of business, finance and the economy in order to inform and protect private investors and the general public. Presented by UCLA Anderson School of Management since 1973, the awards recognize writers, editors and producers of both print and broadcast media for the significant contributions they make in this field.

The finalists in the large newspapers category (circulation of more than 300,000) are:

  • Gretchen Morgenson, Peter S. Goodman, Charles Duhigg, Carter Dougherty, Eric Dash, Julie Creswell, Jo Becker, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Stephen Labaton for “The Reckoning” in The New York Times
  • Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Brady Dennis for “The Crash: The Rise and Fall of AIG” in The Washington Post
  • Carrick Mollenkamp, Susanne Craig, Jeffrey McCracken, Jon Hilsenrath, Susan Pulliam, Liz Rappaport, Aaron Lucchetti, Jenny Strasburg, Tom McGinty, Serena Ng, Randall Smith and Liam Pleven for “Broken Markets” in The Wall Street Journal
  • John Carreyrou and Barbara Martinez for “Prescription for Profits” in The Wall Street Journal

The finalists in the medium & small newspapers category (circulation of 300,000 or less) are:

  • Jack Dolan, Matthew Haggman and Rob Barry for “Borrowers Betrayed” in The Miami Herald
  • David Heath and Christine Willmsen for “The Favor Factory” in The Seattle Times
  • Ames Alexander, Franco Ordoñez, Kerry Hall and Ted Mellnik for “The Cruelest Cuts” in The Charlotte Observer
  • Andrew McIntosh for “Nail Gun Safety Under Fire” in The Sacramento Bee

The finalists in the magazines category are:

  • David Leonhardt for “Obamanomics” in The New York Times Magazine
  • William Selway and Martin Z. Braun for “Broken Promises” in Bloomberg Markets
  • Michael Lewis for “The End” in Condé Nast Portfolio
  • Peter Elkind for “The Trouble with Steve” in Fortune

See all of the finalists here.

Portfolio publisher lands at Traveler

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John Koblin of the New York Observer reports Monday that William Li, the publisher of the now-defunct Conde Nast Portfolio, has landed a job as associate publisher of Conde Nast Traveler.

Koblin writes, “‘I wanted to keep working,’ said Mr. Li in an interview with The Observer. ‘I wanted to keep working on a brand that was a strong one and to have opportunities to work at blue chip brands like Condé Nast Traveler don’t come around often.’

“Mr. Li was Portfolio‘s publisher from 2008 until last Monday (and only found out about the magazine’s closing about an hour before he had to inform his staff) and was Men’s Vogue‘s publisher before that. We asked Mr. Li why he decided to take a step back with a No. 2 position instead of holding out for a publisher’s job somewhere else.

“‘It’s less about being No. 2 and more about being with a magazine that’s very established,’ said Mr. Li. ‘There’s a familiarity there and it’s still within David Carey’s group and I really wanted to continue to work with David. I don’t get hung up on the No. 2 number.’”

Read more here.

Lipman: Nothing was wrong with Portfolio's business journalism

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Johnnie L. Roberts of Newsweek got the first interview with Conde Nast Portfolio editor Joanne Lipman since Conde Nast closed the publication on Monday.

Here is an excerpt:

What did you get most right, most wrong in the job?

A magazine is a creative enterprise, so it’s always evolving. I couldn’t be happier with the magazine. You’re always trying new things. That’s the nature of the thing. Some of the new things you try work better than others. We were in the process of building on things that worked and weeding out those that didn’t.

Is the market simply not big enough for several major business titles—Fortune, Forbes, BusinessWeek, etc.? What did Portfolio add to the mix?

Portfolio‘s DNA was to be smart, substantive and sexy. Our approach was always counterintuitive. If the story were conventional wisdom, we wouldn’t write about it. We brought ambitious narrative journalism to a field that had often been seen as narrow. There was plenty of appetite for the material. It couldn’t have been stronger. This is the story of the 21st century—business, finance and the economy.

Read more here.

Why was Portfolio even started?

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Howard Gold, the executive editor of MoneyShow.com and former editor of Barron’s Online for 10 years, wonders why Conde Nast Portfolio, a business magazine closed after two years, was even launched.

Gold writes, “How can anyone have launched a new print business magazine in 2007? And although in some journalistic circles, print — and a certain cable network — are still the gold standard, the audience for financial information and analysis migrated online a long time ago. Any business that ignores that is doomed to fail.

“That’s why when I read the accounts of life inside Portfolio’s gilded fishbowl, I wondered, what planet are these people on? And what century do they think they’re in? Overpaid writers strutting and griping — and not producing. Ego-driven news meetings where nothing was resolved. A reported $100 million of Conde Nast’s money down the drain. And never a clear statement of what this particular magazine was bringing to the table in a very crowded market.

“What jumped out at me most, however, was how much of an afterthought online appeared to be in the grandiose plans of Conde Nast’s reclusive owner S.I. Newhouse, Jr. and Portfolio’s editor in chief Joanne Lipman, formerly a top editor at the print Wall Street Journal.

Read more here.

Why the Portfolio idea failed

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John Koblin of the New York Observer has an interesting examination of the founding of Conde Nast Portfolio that helps explain why the two-year-old business magazine failed.

Koblin writes, “The appeal of these early dream-versions of Portfolio is rather obvious. Condé Nast gets to penetrate a mostly male ad market with a magazine that could sometimes look like a woman’s magazine.

“But even quite close to the launch, some insiders saw signs of trouble.

“During a first interview with Ms. Lipman and a group of editors before the launch, one staffer was trying to get a sense of the magazine.

“’None of them could clearly explain what the magazine would be. They just said ‘It’ll be really good, it’ll do what the other magazines don’t do. It’ll be Vanity Fair meets Fortune.’ But none of them had a clear idea or had an inspiring answer. I kept pressing them for a piece in another magazine that ran that they’d like to run and none of them had a good example.’”

Read more here.

Portfolio spent money fast

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Belinda Luscombe of Time magazine writes about the cash-spending ways of now-closed Conde Nast Portfolio magazine.

Luscombe writes, “But many of the killer bylines only popped up occasionally. ‘They were willing to throw tons of money at writers, but they couldn’t figure out how to use them,’ says one former staffer. ‘They all got about two stories in the magazine. They killed one of David Margolick’s.’

“The photography budget was also deep. In true Conde Nast fashion, the photographers were always top notch, and well paid. Photo spreads for small stories in the front of book could easily run to $50,000 each. For one story, the magazine flew a photographer to eight different locations around the country. Lavish amounts were spent on cover stories that became inside stories.

“Money was thrown at market research too, especially in the long months before the launch. (Lipman was hired in the summer of 2005 for a magazine which didn’t come out until May 2007.) ‘When I asked to attend a focus group, they suggested not New York — in the same building — but Chicago,’ says another former staffer. ‘Joanne stayed at the Four Seasons. And two people from the art department turned their San Francisco focus-group trip into a multi-day mini-vacation at company expense.’”

Read more here.

McGraw-Hill CEO declines comment on BusinessWeek's performance

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With the closing of competitor Conde Nast Portfolio, you’d expect that those interested in future performance of BusinessWeek might want to know how it could benefit.

The business weekly has seen nearly a 40 percent decline in advertising revenue during the first quarter. So J.P. Morgan analyst Michael Meltz poses the following question earlier today to Terry McGraw, the CEO of McGraw-Hill, the parent company of BusinessWeek:

“We saw yesterday that Advance is closing Portfolio. Can you talk about BusinessWeek and with pages down this much what are you doing there to kind of stem the losses, I would think it’s on track to lose a good amount of money this year.”

To which McGraw replied: “No comment on that.”

Read the entire transcript here. The conversation begins at the bottom of page 8.

Lipman to blame for Portfolio's failure

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Paul Smalera, a former Conde Nast Portfolio staffer, writes on Gawker that the business magazine’s demise rests solely on the shoulders of editor Joanne Lipman.

Smalera writes, “Yet in too many ways to enumerate here, we did not operate in what I fondly call a reality-based environment. In Lipman’s meetings, firings were never firings, stories were never bad or ill timed, mistakes were never made. The air had long been sucked out of that room, and few staffers seemed to believe anymore in the mission of the place, despite a collective desire, and I mean this, to do as good a job as they could do, given the circumstances.

“Early in my time there, I saw a Deputy Editor I learned from and respected be run out on a rail for his insouciance, his belief that the magazine could be a great thing. I wondered, as those early undercurrents of dissent began to swell, why no one was pointing out the empress had no clothes. Wasn’t this journalism, capital J? Didn’t it matter when seasoned vets thought we were going about things in a haphazard, disjointed, unfocused and fundamentally wrong way? Yes, but. These were also jobs, capital J. And as is now clear, no one, inside or out, was ever going to save Lipman from herself.

“And who knows, as her faltering became apparent, what kind of pressures Lipman faced from her boss, and his boss, and Newhouse himself, that further distorted the title? Essentially, it’s hard to take principled stands when you work pretty much at the beneficence of a billionaire. And if you’re wondering what’s wrong with journalism these days, that’s pretty much it.”

Read more here.

Other business magazines will fail

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Jon Friedman, the media columnist at Marketwatch, predicts that the closing of business magazine Conde Nast Portfolio on Monday won’t be the last of the biz glossies to shutter.

Friedman writes, “The business model no longer can be sustained in a digital age. In a bear market where people prefer to sit on the sidelines, investment advice isn’t as important a commodity. If the readers aren’t there, advertisers would put their advertising dollars somewhere else as well, such as cable television and the Internet.

Will it be Time Inc’s Fortune? Or McGraw-Hill’s BusinessWeek? It seems like it is only a matter of time before a corporation decides to pull the plug on a cash drain. Forbes, which is privately owned, probably will keep its flagship asset afloat out of pride, if nothing else — unless Forbes’ new partner, Bono, disagrees, of course. Beware, Fast Company.

“Portfolio might have survived in better economic times. The monthly magazine started out horrendously but slowly found its way, thanks to strong coverage of the Wall Street meltdown. Conde Nast dramatically cut Portfolio’s staff and publication schedule not long ago — two sure signs that the end was near.”

Read more here.