Field and Stream magazine cover detail, 1962.

Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Journalists

Let’s see.

The Los Angeles Times laid off >20% of the people who work in its newsroom. Line up five people. One is given a cardboard box. About 115 people got boxes.

Over at Time magazine, the CEO sent out a memo to staff that says, in part, “We must continue increasing our revenue while managing operating costs efficiently. Over the last 12 months we have diligently reduced our expenses. There is still more work to be done.” More work to be done by fewer people, as the union that represents Time’s editorial staff reported that 15% of its members were let go.

Business Insider’s CEO’s memo pointed out that last year they developed a vision and “This year is about making it happening and focusing our company and efforts toward the future.” Then the other shoe dropped: “Unfortunately, this also means we need to scale back in some areas of our organization.” As in some 8% of its employees being eliminated from the rolls.

Sports Illustrated, which figured a few years back that while it might have some of the best sports writing in the known Universe, putting sexy women in bikinis on its cover would provide more visibility for the brand and at the very least one-time purchases by people standing in line at Barnes and Noble, had about 100 people in its newsroom. Week-before-last the management sent out emails to many of those writers and editors advising them that their services were no longer required. And some of those remaining got a message telling them that they have 90 days or so. Sports Illustrated is owned by Authentic Brands. Authentic Brands also owns an array of other brands that aren’t ink-on-paper or digits-rendered-on-a-screen, like Airwalk and Eddie Bauer, Dolce and Gabana and Juicy Couture, Quiksilver and Reebok. It also owns the right to Elvis. Perhaps before you know it, when the King’s cred diminishes, his likeness will be looking for work.

Then here is the lede from an Associated Press story that appeared on January 21:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nearly three decades after it was established, Pitchfork, the most influential music publication of the internet age with the power to make or break an artist, is being absorbed by another entity — a men’s fashion and style magazine.

The magazine in question is GQ. Which was once titled Gentleman’s Quarterly. Break out the jodhpurs and ascots. According to the publication:

GQ is the authority on men. For more than 50 years, GQ has been the premier men’s magazine, providing definitive coverage of style and culture.”

A question about all this is whether Condé Nast, which owns Pitchfork and GQ, somehow imagines that only men are interested in “definitive coverage of style and culture.” By rolling Pitchfork into GQ it is undercutting that “definitive coverage” because without women there is nothing definitive about it.

Oh, and in keeping with the theme of job losses, it was reported that 12 people were given their walking papers, leaving a staff of eight.

This brief synopsis of those in the media world who have lost their jobs of late—and this is far from a complete list, as CNN reported, partially in a meta manner, “At the national level, CNN, The Washington Post, NPR, Vice Media, Sports Illustrated, Vox Media, NBC News, CNBC, and other organizations have cut swaths of their reporting staff.”—might lead one to think (correctly) the reporting for a living probably isn’t a stable choice.

But then there’s this:

Morgan Wallen and Eric Church, country music performers who are doing exceedingly well have acquired Field & Stream, a 152-year-old media brand, which includes both the publication and the retail trademark.

Unlike the case at Pitchfork, the editor-in-chief of the publication is keeping his job, as are the members of the editorial team.

Quotes from the new owners, as reported by The Tennessean:

Church: “I can remember my grandfather keeping a few of his favorite Field & Stream magazines on the dash of his truck. That truck took us on hundreds of outdoor adventures and I all but memorized every story and every picture on every page. They were my Bible. It is the honor of my life to make sure that legacy carries on. It is both this responsibility to an American Icon and also to a young boy in his papaw’s truck that will be the compass that guides our steps.”

Wallen: “There’s nothin’ I love more than being with friends around a campfire, on a boat, or in a deer stand — and Field & Stream represents all of those to me. Being part of its future is incredible and we want to keep bringing people together outdoors, makin’ memories, for generations to come.”

So the media scene is being decimated, yet here are two musicians who are doing their part to maintain something that certainly would otherwise have a shaky existence as a publication (though would probably live on as a brand in Dick’s Sporting Goods (which had owned the retail trademark), next to something owned by Authentic Brands).

Condé Nast bought Pitchfork in 2015 for an undisclosed sum. So here it is nine years later, consolidating it into another of its properties—which means that it is essentially writing off much of whatever its investment was.

Where are the analogues on the rock side to Church and Walen?

It is often said that country music fans are more dedicated and faithful. Seems that the country music musicians are, too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *