New York Lived the Dream. Now, the Nightmare

Item: We hear that New York Magazine recently called in its department heads and told them to prepare for more budget cuts. New York Magazine is the Gilded Age's demise, paper version.

It's not that it's terribly worse at New York than other places. Lots of magazines are folding; New York is merely losing its savoir faire. Historically, it's always been able to hire whoever, pay them top dollar, and let them write at their leisure. New York was like the New Yorker of New York, or something!

Editor Adam Moss's business model bears an eerie resemblance to the condo developers and real estate speculators who drove the boom and so many of the magazine's ad pages: pay the most to get the best. It's a formula that makes perfect sense as long since the costs of spending lavishly are trivial compared to the potential rewards. But in a downturn, survival is about controlling costs.

The magazine had its first (relatively soft) round of layoffs a few months ago, cutting Gael Greene and Jesse Oxfeld. They've cut back on freelancers, and they're making their huge roster of contract writers actually fill their word counts. End of an era!

More than any other magazine, New York embodied the boom times of NYC. Nobody was better positioned to cater to the rich young things who needed tips on exactly the right furniture stores, boutiques, vacations, and clubs where they could burn their copious, copious money. Unfortunately for New York, they're not made for a crushing recession. You can only focus maniacally on the somewhat inconvenienced lives of your target elites before you become a caricature of yourself. But when the money comes back several years from now, watch out!