In itself, the exit of a junior staffer shouldn't be that significant to Forbes, the right-wing business magazine. But Lea Goldman's departure to Marie-Claire highlights the vulnerability of the storied business magazine, and the increasing importance of web-bait such as listicles in even the most seemingly traditional of media.
Forbes appears a charming throwback, immune to the pressure of the modern magazine business: the business title, founded in 1917 and, is still privately owned, a rare thing in these days of media conglomerates; and the headquarters is still the charmingly fusty building on the lower reaches of Fifth Avenue.
The magazine, which is a ghost of its former self, has lost much of its talent. Dennis Kneale is at CNBC, Elizabeth Macdonald at Fox Business News, Peter Kafka at website Silicon Alley Insider and Pete Newcomb at Vanity Fair. But Goldman's departure has hit Forbes harder because, more than most magazines, the business is now driven by web traffic, of which Goldman was the biggest producer.
Forbes, among the targets of a New York Times exposé of web marketing scams, has been surprisingly shameless in its efforts to inflate traffic to its website and thus lure online advertisers. And some of Forbes.com's most transparently click-whoring editorial packages, such as its slideshow-heavy packages on the Most Powerful Entertainers and Richest Women in Entertainment, were put together by Goldman.
Advice to the person who replaces Goldman: listicle-making, as Gawker alumnus Choire Sicha knows, is a soul-destroying task. Demand to be paid by the pageview.