Sorry if I seem a little slow on the uptake regarding today's rather hefty layoff, of, by my count, at least 10 people from my favorite former employer, AdweekMedia. Wasn't in the office for much of the day, but here's what I think: even though the magazines will now, at last, share editorial operations, I still find it amazing the company has once again managed to sidestep what should be inevitable: combining the Adweek, Brandweek and Mediaweek brands into a single publication, kind of like, uh, Ad Age. Partly because it took me so damn long to post today, this isn't a new thought. As PaidContent.org's Rafat Ali said: "If they were really serious about long term viability, at least one of those three [magazines] should have been closed down, if you ask me, and possibly even two."
Instead, the company offers up a peculiar strategy in which there are still three magazines, but one staff. Does this mean reporters now have three bosses? That the magazines will carry the same content in different packaging? It's hard to tell from the official release, which says: "This integrated, yet industry audience-targeted approach to sharing content between brands is supported by the fact that only 1.5 percent of all of the print subscribers of Adweek, Brandweek and Mediaweek receive all three publications, which alleviates the potential for delivering repetitive content to subscribers." Well, I guess, but last time I checked, producing print cost money--producing customized print publications for three audiences with ever more interlocking interests costs even more, and to what advantage? As it's far easier to slice-and-dice content in customized form in a digital environment, that's where the three brands should continue to exist, if anywhere. Thus, it seems like the place for savings shouldn't necessarily be in cutting staff--too many talented have lost their jobs there--but in cutting down on other big costs, like three print publications, which, by the time they finally arrive, are increasingly an afterthought in a news-on-demand world. That takes courage, but better to make one massive, very difficult decision than dozens of smaller ones. Get on with it, people.