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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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