Thursday, June 21, 2007

'Time' Shoving Its Reluctant Writers Online

"A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time."
Mark Twain (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)

'Time' Shoving Its Reluctant Writers Online

Yesterday, Time Inc. chairman and chief executive Ann Moore did a Q&A with the Wall Street Journal. One of the things she said was:

The really big breakthrough is that editorial drank the Kool-Aid. The editors of Time Inc. really don't fear the Web anymore. The people who are leading the charge are the writers. When you realized that you could write online, and you would get thousands of readers responding, disagreeing, arguing, it was really great.
Oh, really? Because, in a recent in-house memo, it seems like Rick Stengel's having to really crack the whip over at Time to get his boys on the internets.
To: TIME Edit Staff
From: Rick Stengel

It's been a little more than four months since re-launched with a new look and purpose. By any metric the re-launch has been a success. Page-views are up about 70% over last year, time spent on the site is up 50% and I think we can all agree that not only looks better but reads smarter. We're doing well.

But not well enough. As good as is, it still needs to be better. And it still needs more content, much more. A number of our best journalists are writing stories and covering their beats for and the magazine simultaneously, and it gives me pleasure to single some of them out by name: Joe Klein, Jim Poniewozik, Karen Tumulty, Simon Elegant, Richard Corliss, Alex Perry, Bryan Walsh, Sean Gregory, Bobby Ghosh, Massimo Calabresi, Tim McGirk and Bruce Crumley. As you can see, this list includes many of our best traditional magazine journalists, and that's no accident; if you cover a beat or territory with passion and expertise, you can and should cover it any medium.

That list needs to grow. I sent out a memo last week about evaluations. Let me make this explicit: evaluations of every Time writer, correspondent, and reporter will be based on the quality and quantity of the contributions each of you makes to both the magazine and to is a daily responsibility; Time magazine is a weekly responsibility. TIME is made up of both.

I suspect that some of you regard writing for as an obligation, and not what you came to TIME to do. But times have changed, and we have to change with them. If you care about what you do - and I know you do - then you need to display your talent, your expertise, and your dedication online as well as in the magazine. That goes for editors as well as writers. Everyone should now have beats and areas of responsibility (Ratu has the list), and you should talk to Josh as well as your editors about what your contribution to should be.

All of this will only make you better at what you do - and make TIME stronger. It will serve you and serve our readers, who can and should expect the same devotion to great writing and reporting online as in print. We are now both a 24/7 news organization online and the indispensable weekly magazine that we have always been, and always will be. We don't own our readers or their time - we have to earn their attention and loyalty every week, every day and every hour in a media landscape that is only getting more competitive. Let's go to work.

Thanks, Rick

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