Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Time Inc: 'No Pressure' to Write for Web

BoSacks Speaks Out: New Bo-Rule. Anyone who refuses to write for the web better be thinking of retirement real soon. I will admit that I am a proponent and believer in a digital future. I can see, it, taste it and believe that it is on the near verge of dominance as an information provider. Why would anyone refuse to write for the web as well as print?

I'm sure I'm missing something here, and I request that those writers on this list can please fill me in on the logic. So far as I can tell we writers, use words to communicate. Why should I care how those words are read? So long as they are, in fact, at the end of the day, read by the public at large. Is there some sort of dead tree elitism going on here? Are my words less important then your words because mine are printed on ether? I think not. It's the thinking and the words that matter not the substrate. Digits or atoms they both support the written word.

Bottom line: If you don't follow the money, you are doing your career and your family an injustice.

Of course, it is very important to be sober when you take an exam. Many worthwhile careers in the street- cleansing, fruit-picking and subway-guitar-playing industries have been founded on a lack of understanding of this simple fact.
Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures

Time Inc: 'No Pressure' to Write for Web
BY Stephanie D. Smith

Though Guild-protected employees at Time Inc. now have the option of whether or not to write for the Web thanks to their new contract, that doesn't mean the pressure to be part of the company's digital focus has dissipated. Referencing the terms of the new contract, Time Inc. editor in chief John Huey sent a memo to Fortune and Time staffers on Tuesday informing them that "Guild-covered employees of Time Inc. are not required to contribute to the Web sites as part of their jobs; and will not suffer any negative impact as a result of not contributing." However, the disclaimer came after saying that Time Inc.'s best employees have managed to multitask. "As we are all aware, Time Inc.'s Web sites have become a critical part of the company's plans for the future....Many of our best journalists are writing stories and covering beats for the magazine and the dot-com simultaneously, and, your managing editors and I strongly encourage each of you to consider how you can best contribute to Fortune and Time to ensure their success."

In other words: If you want to be one of the company's "best journalists," you better write for both.

So do staffers feel the pressure to ramp up productivity now? Not really. Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer, Time managing editor Richard Stengel and just about every magazine editor in the industry has agreed that print, online and, for that matter, television and radio are all necessary to a magazine's growth. "No one says you have to go on CNBC. But management likes it when you do," explained one writer.

Even the Guild acknowledges that having employees write for both is a good thing, but their discontent came when top editors sent memos requiring print employees to do so, since Guild coverage did not extend to the Web previously. Huey's concession is part of a settlement between the company and the Guild on the matter. The contract, which expires in 2010, was approved Friday by a vote of 105-14. - Stephanie D. Smith

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