Andrew Sullivan called it “Journalism’s Surrender” on his blog.
“The surrender of journalism to advertizing and public relations – not alliance with, but surrender to – was the biggest media story of 2013 that the media almost didn’t cover at all. But it’s right there in black and white, if buried on the slowest news day of the year:
Time Inc. will abandon the traditional separation between its newsroom and business sides, a move that has caused angst among its journalists. Now, the newsroom staffs at Time Inc.’s magazines will report to the business executives. Such a structure, once verboten at journalistic institutions, is seen as necessary to create revenue opportunities and stem the tide of declining subscription and advertising sales.
Now remember this is not some desperate trade magazine; this is Time Fucking Inc. Journalists at Time will report directly to those on the business side (or is that now an anachronism?) seeking advertizing revenues and sponsored content contracts. That’s what the editors now are. …
This is the way the press ends. Not with a bang but a “revenue opportunity.”
The news lit up Twitter. You can read many journalists’ reactions.
On Twitter, Paul Raeburn suggested that the firewall had already been torn down long before this year-end announcement, and linked to his post from last April, “Did Time magazine offer favorable coverage to MD Anderson Cancer Center?”
By the way, in case you missed it, Raeburn also wrote about 2013 – “The year the press ‘cured’ cancer, AIDS, diabetes high cholesterol….” Time was featured in that one as well.
In the absence of a firewall between news and business sides, will we get stuff like Steven Brill’s cover piece from this past year, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us”? That’s the kind of journalism that many advertisers don’t like.
Only TIME will tell.
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