Conde Nast Might Kill Some Magazines After All

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Conde Nast, the twinkling magazine publisher whose glossy covers match the shimmer of its iconic Times Square building, has been pummeled by the recession. So the firm hired a group of McKinsey consultants to examine ways to restructure the company, which is the business equivalent of phoning your local amputation surgeon.

As Megan reported yesterday, now that the doctor has examined the patient, fingers have been crossed for the severity of the diagnosis. The grapevine gossip is 25 percent cuts through the company. Yesterday's update: Hooray, no magazine closings! Today's update: Yeah, about yesterday's update...


Romenesko finds that

Conde Nast execs might close titles rather than endure budget cuts so extreme that production quality would be jeopardized or advertising and circulation growth would be too difficult.

I think the graf that should have tipped us off to the potential for closings was this:

Meanwhile, it appears men's mag Details, oft-thought to be beleaguered, has been thrown a lifeline. However, since there are only about 35 staffers on the editorial side there, a 25 percent cut could be quite damaging.

It doesn't make sense to mandate 25 percent cuts at every magazine if you see profit potential at some magazines and not others. That's especially true when 25 percent cuts at flailing magazines like Details mortally gut the editorial staff. It makes more sense to cut losses and invest in the titles you believe in. News is McKinsey advocated the one-quarter cuts and let Conde figure out for itself how to get there. I would be shocked if Conde goes the route of all haircuts and no be-headings.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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