Tough Times at Harpers
Business Jan 19 2011, 11:04 AM ET 12
There's something both puzzling and tragic about the labor disputes at Harper's. I had been aware of their struggles with circulation--indeed, I'm part of them. Given how high the price is, and how rarely I felt like I was finding surprising, challenging articles, eventually, regretfully, I stopped taking the magazine. Apparently, a lot of other people agreed, a problem that was compounded by the recession.
The budget deficit has led the owner to make changes; the changes has led to resistance from the staff. And since this is Harper's, naturally, the staff has unionized.
[yap yap yap unions bad]
Given where I work, I suppose I can't let an interesting side-point pass unremarked: MacArthur apparently thinks of us as his rivals; and he simply flatly refused to believe that we were profitable....When one staffer brought MacArthur's attention to a recent New York Times article that stated The Atlantic was profitable this year because of its heavy investments in the web, MacArthur responded: "They're lying. They're a private company and they can say whatever they want."
At least in this corner of The Atlantic, we wish our brother journalists at Harper's nothing but success; any feelings of rivalry have waned to nothingness since those rambunctious days of the 1880s.
I hope that you will take it from me, then, that we aren't lying; we really are profitable. I spent most of last fall being repeatedly sworn to silence on our progress towards corporate goals. These profits were achieved, not so that we could show the fellows at other publications, but simply because everyone--owner and staff--is happier with a profitable publication.
As you can see from the Harpers experience. When there's not enough money to go around, people fight over the scraps. Of course, getting to profitability is insanely difficult, which is why not many publications have managed the feat recently. Given what Harper's has gone through, I can see why MacArthur would find it hard to believe in a profitable magazine.
Silly man. Did he think Megan McArdle's support for Goldman, Sachs was free?
'Atlantic' turns first profit in decades
Washington, D.C.—The Atlantic Media Co.'s The Atlantic said Thursday the brand posted a profit in 2010, the first time it had done so in “decades.”
“It hasn't been profitable in institutional memory,” a spokesperson said.
Driven by name bloggers such as Andrew Sullivan and Megan McArdle, The Atlantic saw its online revenue balloon by 70% in 2010 compared with the previous year. In the same time frame, print advertising increased 27% and overall advertising jumped 37%
New print advertisers last year included Samsung, Singapore Airlines and Xerox Corp. New digital advertisers included Goldman Sachs, IBM Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp.