A high-profile New York magazine company handing control of its flagship print property to a Web executive would be a great story about the transformation of media. Normally, writers at Forbes would be all over it — if it weren't happening to them. Yesterday's rumor about Forbes Media merging the magazine and Forbes.com — two distinct operations, housed in separate offices, whose managers don't get along — and tapping Forbes.com chief Jim Spanfeller to run the combination has provoked a collective wave of head-scratching from current and former Forbesians. Could it happen? One writer tells us that Forbes management has denied the rumor so unconvincingly that workers there are all concluding it must be true. "I work at Forbes. I'll be the last to know," says one. He disputes the idea that Forbes and its website don't work well together, giving several examples of Web and print writers crossing the line — but the fact that those are notable, rather than routine, just highlights Forbes's lack of cooperation. His note:
How should I know? I work at Forbes. I'll be the last to know. I'd heard rumors about .com getting a floor here, but rumors like that circulate all the time and never come true. If they did, we'd belong to Fox, the magazine and website would already have merged, we'd all be in one building Queens and Joe Nocera would be running the operation. I personally doubt Valleywag is well sourced here. There are also rumors about Spanfeller making a power grab. But what else is knew? Those rumors have been around since he arrived. Sometimes they're true, sometimes not. Or perhaps sometimes he succeeds at getting more power and sometimes he doesn't. I think the move might be true, and it might involve some shift in power, but the idea that there's a dramatic consolidation in the wind is almost certainly wrong. But that's just my opinion, your mileage may vary. I do think putting the two staffs in the same building would do a lot to get print writers writing for the web and web writers writing for the magazine. But this is already happening. Maureen Farrell and Andy Greenberg both write for print, and Brian Caulfield had a cover. Nathan Vardi (print) did a list of the world's most wanted fugitives for the web. Mike Maiello just went from the magazine to the website. If they do take over a floor of 60, I hope they bring their free coffee with them.