So says David Carr in a New York Times column yesterday. My first reaction to Carr’s opinion piece was to think of the John Lennon line: “I read the news today, oh boy!” But then Carr is stating his opinion, not fact, and also manages to warp a good number of facts along the way.
He writes, for example, that Fast Company and Inc., both being sold by Gruner & Jahr, “now have a value of zero.” That’s silly and completely inaccurate. The writer jumps to this conclusion merely because Meredith Corp., which agreed to buy both business magazines if they can’t be sold by G&J by the end of June, said such a sale would not be material to the overall purchase price. The reason it’s not material is because Meredith intends to make as much or more selling us than it has agreed to pay G&J for Fast Company and Inc. These are two very valuable national magazine brands being sold at the worst time for G&J but the best time for any smart buyer. Smart investors, after all, buy low and sell high.
Then, Carr somehow disconnects the success of online advertising with print. Fact is, the future of journalism is hardly a debate about print and online. It’s all about content. The content produced by the magazine staffs of Fast Company and Inc. are the basis of two successful websites that have been growing by leaps and bounds. Separating the two to make a point about the decline of all the business magazines competely misses the truth that it’s not about print magazines; it’s about brands and content.
Carr also makes the following odd statement: “Fast Company may be imprisoned by a rehetorical set that cannot be used without inviting derision–spare change agents, anyone?–but the big three business magazines employ some of the best journalists in business: it was Fortune that first revealed the Enron house of mirrors.”
Well, actually, Carr, you’re dead wrong. It was The Wall Street Journal whose investigative reporting revealed Enron to be a shell game. Fortune merely wrote a fairly unrevealing story whose point was that Enron’s stock may be too high.
As for our magazine being “imprisoned by a rehetorical set,” he clearly hasn’t read this magazine in a very long time. Fast Company has just been named a final for the Loeb Awards, the most prestigious honor in all of business journalism. This is the third time in the past four years our magazine has achieved such distinction.
And Fast Company has won eight important journalism and design awards for its past 16 issues through last year, including Folio’s Award as the best business/consumer magazine in the country, the New York Press Club’s award for the best business story in a magazine, and the Conference Board’s award for doing the best coverage of work/life balance issues.
Not too bad for a magazine that Carr says “is more prone to slogans that look good in needlepoint, quaint artifacts of a by-gone era.”