Thursday, July 19, 2007

Can Fans Save Business 2.0?

Can Fans Save Business 2.0?
Facebook Group Aims to Protect Time Inc. Title From Scrapheap
By Nat Ives

NEW YORK ( -- Can Business 2.0 become the "Jericho" of magazine publishing? "Jericho," of course, is the once-canceled CBS show that was revived after fans deluged the network with pleas to continue it. Now a self-described avid reader of Time Inc.'s Business 2.0 has started a Facebook group called "I read Business 2.0 -- and I want to keep reading!"

The Facebook group to save Business 2.0 includes Craig Newmark of Craigslist; Ned Desmond, president of Time Inc. Interactive; Om Malik, creator of GigaOm; James Ledbetter, formerly of The Industry Standard; and, unsurprisingly, Business 2.0 Editor Josh Quittner.

Since its establishment yesterday morning, the group has attracted more than 160 members, many of them prominent in new media, technology and business. They include Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist; Matt Cohler, VP-strategy at Facebook itself; Ned Desmond, president of Time Inc. Interactive; Michael Arrington, editor of TechCrunch; Philip Kaplan, founder and chairman of AdBrite online ad agency; Om Malik, creator of tech blog GigaOm; Blaise Zerega, managing editor of and former managing editor of Wired; James Ledbetter, former European editor of The Industry Standard; Sree Sreenivasan of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; and Jimmy Guterman, editor of O'Reilly Media's Release 2.0 and former editor in chief of Forrester, Gaming Industry News and CD Review.

Will it be enough?
How big it grows -- and whether fan fervor is enough to save a magazine with sinking ad pages -- remains to be seen. Among a bunch of challenged business books, Business 2.0 has caught some worried eyes with its 34.1% decline in ad pages over the first half of the year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. And Time Inc. has been unwilling to guarantee Business 2.0 will continue publishing. "It is true that we are taking a look at the title, but no decision has been reached at this point," a spokeswoman said.

Colin Carmichael, the reader who started the group, said he had been invited to lots of "save this, save that" groups on Facebook and wondered how Business 2.0 readers might respond to similar call. "I don't know if Time Inc. might be swayed," he said. "It's merely a P&L question for them. What might be more interesting is if current or potential advertisers take notice of the audience."

'It choked me up'
Editor in Chief Josh Quittner, who, The New York Times reports, has been looking for private-equity investors to save the magazine, said he signed up for the group as a purely reflexive emotional gesture. "It choked me up -- an old cynic like me," he said.

But he isn't convinced the group will help. "I know the internet has saved some TV shows," Mr. Quittner said. "I've never heard of it saving a magazine."

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