The Hollywood Reporter, once one of the biggest of the Hollywood trade papers, has been atrophying readers for years now as print journalism continues to lose ground to the Internet. The company tried to stop the hemorrhaging with a website of its own, but the site has floundered compared to other entertainment destinations like The Wrap, Indiewire, and Deadline.
Fighting to stay relevant -- and alive -- the company brought in former Us Weekly Editorial Director Janice Min back in June. Working alongside Richard Beckman, the chief executive of E5 Global Media (THR's parent company), Min's announced a bold new plan for THR -- the launch of a new glossy weekly magazine. The cynical amongst us are already wondering how jumping from a daily newspaper format that people weren't interested in to the also-on-the-decline weekly periodical market is a step forward, but Beckman and Min have a bold plan. We'll just have to wait and see if it pans out.
Looking to put real journalistic integrity back into the Reporter is the first step. Less pandering to the studios with stories that are little more than re-written press releases and more in-depth reporting and investigative journalism are the first order of business. Readers may have already noticed some of these changes. Back in July, Min ran a news story with unnamed sources saying that ABC's former Entertainment President Stephen McPherson's resignation was tied to multiple harassment complaints. This wasn't your typical THR fluff piece from years past.
Hit the jump to find out how THR hopes to survive -- and thrive -- with their new magazine format.
Airing Hollywood's dirty laundry sounds like a recipe for disaster when most of your ad revenue comes from that same industry, but Beckman has a plan for infusing new revenue streams into THR -- and making the company less beholden to industry players. They're hoping to get high income trend influencers to read the new weekly, which should entice a broader range of advertisers to pay for space in each issue. This all sounds great on paper, but isn't the market already filled with magazines loaded with pages of ads for fancy liquor, luxury cars, and expensive watches? Clearly, the editorial content is going to have to be top notch for THR to distinguish itself in a crowded marketplace.
Beckman, who goes by the nickname Mad Dog, isn't shy when it comes to calling out the competition. "It's our negligence -- the way we've served up our content over the last couple of years has allowed some really poor competitors to emerge," he tells The New York Times. He later calls Hollywood executives who try to pigeonhole him "morons."
There is some definite good news to come out of the move, though. THR will increase their editorial staff by 50%. The newsstand cost of a single issue of the magazine will be $5.99 (up from the daily paper's $2.99 price point), but the annual subscription price will drop from $300 a year to $249. The daily print version will cease to exist, but subscribers will now get a digital PDF copy that reports breaking news on a daily basis.
I've got some genuine concerns about this change in format for THR, but I'm not willing to write them off yet. The jump to a magazine seems risky and almost counter-productive to me (why not just put all this energy into their website instead?), but maybe this will work out -- if they manage to start breaking stories ahead of everyone else. The real make or break issue will be the price. THR will have to do something impressive to set themselves apart from the pack in order to coerce people into spending $6 a week for information they can get online for free. What do you guys think? Daring move on the upper level executives' part or is the last gasp for THR? Opine below.