Does The Redesign of Time Magazine Mean It Has A New Business Model As Well?

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on March 25, 2007

I’ve been pondering the meaning of Time’s new redesign and can only conclude that a radical new business plan is afoot. The redesign by Pentagram’s Luke Hayman is clean, crisp, simplified, modern, a nice integration of New York Magazine and The Economist. Therein lies the rub. Time is now designed for a magazine of 500,000, not 4 million. It is no longer a popular magazine designed for a mass audience but a niche magazine designed for a much smaller commentariat (move over Economist).

Is that the intention of Luke and the Time people? Is it a mistake? Or have the folks at TimeWarner decided to radically alter the mission of Time to allow it to shrink in size and cost?

Cost comes to mind because as you move through the pages of Time, you realize that nearly all of it is now commentary about the serious issues of the day. Yes, there is wonderful photography for the long-form stories in the well of the magazine, but they appear to be shot to enhance the seriousness of the stories.

And so many of the stories are now done by columnists, many not on the staff of the Time (actually, it’s difficult to discern who is on and who is not). We have familiar faces—Joe Klein, Charles Krauthammer, Walter Isaacson, Caroline Kennedy that are “safe” and predictable brand names. Columnists tend to be much cheaper to fill pages than large staffs of reporters and writers.

So I’m left to conclude to that Time is changing its business model as much as its design. What do you think? Or do you even care?

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Reader Comments

Abbey

May 19, 2007 06:11 AM

I don't.

Justice

September 15, 2007 12:33 AM

Stop smoking rocks. Of course not.

Megan Steiner

March 14, 2008 02:17 AM

I don't necessarily care but it is of importance to me at this point, because I am analysing this Magazine for a source analysis paper, for my Critical Thinking class at Penn State.

As a writer, I CARE about the history and longevity of one of our country's most respected and well known news magazines. What they have to do to save it doesn't really matter to me, so long as they stick around.

It's clear they are having to change a few things in the face of the online media sources and other news magazines vying for attention. Change is not always a bad thing if it means the end result keeps them in business.

Ajinkya D

September 7, 2008 09:08 PM

Right, Megan. I too am writing a small paper on the critical analysis of TIME for my mag journalism class at Manipal University.
I also second the author in the fact that the new design signifies niche marketing in the near future. TIME sales have near stagnated in the last few years.

Jai Jai.

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