Conde Nast's Internet ProblemDoes super deluxe magazine publisher Conde Nast have trouble "getting" the internet? In a macro sense we'd say they have trouble "getting" the entire magazine business at the moment, since they're in the midst of hacking 5% of their staff off every title, including dozens of online staff at CondeNet. So in that sense their troubles are equally distributed! But as Big Money points out today, Conde has been particularly slow to embrace the web, especially considering the company's level of prestige. Could the problem be.... ego? Big Money says, correctly, that even the magazines with good websites have a relatively weak online presence considering their role in the media power structure. Conde, which was late to take the internet seriously, is even worse, although it owns some of the best magazines in the country.
In most cases, the company insists that new site technologies be developed by nail-bitingly slow internal IT teams rather than using high-quality, inexpensive technologies widely available on the market. It took one editor a whole year just to obtain a flash audio player. The company has famously refused to make magazine content available online and has not been willing to hire a generation of writers to create original content.
The psychological component: Conde Nast's magazines are a product of the ego of the boss, Si Newhouse. He's an old guy and he considers the web far less prestigious than print, and directs his resources accordingly. But that's a decision based on image, rather than business needs. If it was a business decision, Newhouse might be running Conde like, say, one of his mor workmanlike properties—the Newark Star-Ledger, which Newhouse's company threatened to shut down completely if the union wouldn't give up an advantageous contract. Then they slashed 40% of the staff, that being what they deemed necessary. That's business hardball. Conde hasn't even seen the beginning of it. [Big Money]