• McGraw-Hill, which announced recently that it's looking to get rid of BusinessWeek, has now announced plans to get rid of 550 employees. [WSJ]
• Jim Spanfeller, the president and CEO of Forbes.com, either decided to leave the company or was forced out, depending on who you talk to. [DF, NYT]
• As expected, the new Harry Potter movie raked it in yesterday. [THR]
• Donald Trump's long-running libel lawsuit against author (and New York Times business editor) Timothy O'Brien has been dismissed by a judge. [NYP]
Ending a longstanding internal split that dates back to the days of the first dotcom boom, Forbes Media is merging the staff which puts out the conservative-leaning business magazine and its online component, which run separately and with a ludicrous amount of mutual suspicion and jealousy. (Valleywag had gotten wind of these plans last month.) An internal memo sent by CEO Steve Forbes to staff says that print and online sales and marketing will be immediately integrated, reporting up to an "office of the chairman" which includes Forbes.com publisher Jim Spanfeller, whom rumors had previously pegged as the head of the combined operation. Integration of the Web and print editorial staff won't happen until early 2009. Translation: No one in the newsroom will know what's happening to their job until next year. Here's the memo:
A high-profile New York magazine company handing control of its flagship print property to a Web executive would be a great story about the transformation of media. Normally, writers at Forbes would be all over it — if it weren't happening to them. Yesterday's rumor about Forbes Media merging the magazine and Forbes.com — two distinct operations, housed in separate offices, whose managers don't get along — and tapping Forbes.com chief Jim Spanfeller to run the combination has provoked a collective wave of head-scratching from current and former Forbesians. Could it happen? One writer tells us that Forbes management has denied the rumor so unconvincingly that workers there are all concluding it must be true. "I work at Forbes. I'll be the last to know," says one. He disputes the idea that Forbes and its website don't work well together, giving several examples of Web and print writers crossing the line — but the fact that those are notable, rather than routine, just highlights Forbes's lack of cooperation. His note:
Most magazines keep their Web and print staffs apart, a legacy of petty rivalries, bureaucratic turf wars, and a fear of change. But Forbes Media has elevated balkanization into an art form. The two sides of the company barely speak to each other. The Forbes family tolerated this, but Elevation Partners, the Silicon Valley private-equity fund which counts Bono as a partner and now owns 40 percent of Forbes is not so patient. A tipster tells us that a "big shakeup" is coming, with the editorial staffs of both magazine and website getting "smashed together."Literally, in the real-estate sense. In New York, Forbes is housed at 60 Fifth Avenue, while Forbes.com is at 90 Fifth Avenue. Now, the publisher is said to be taking a floor at 60 Fifth to house the dotcom reporters, while it clears out "deadwood long-timers." The new mandate: Everyone will write for both Web and print. Which sounds sensible — unless you work at Forbes. What Forbes is not planning to announce: What sounds like a merger is really a takeover — by Forbes.com. Jim Spanfeller, the publisher of Forbes.com, will run the combined operation. "It's a massive coup, one that print people have long seen coming and long feared," says our tipster. As well they should: The editors of Forbes have long looked down on their Web brethren. Now they will be working for them.
Seven years ago there were less than 50 online ad networks. Today there are more than 300. But that number could shrink just as quickly, reports Lucia Moses in MediaWeek. At least, that's what her executive sources at publishers Rodale, Martha Stewart and Forbes hope. Rodale's MaryAnn Bekkedahl says that when her company experimented with an ad network, it served ads in the wrong language, broke exclusive arrangements with sponsors, and tried to put a fast-food ad in on a fitness site. Forbes.com CEO Jim Spanfeller tells Moses Forbes has the solution: It offers advertising clients its own third-party sites handpicked by the company for editorial compatibility. Martha Stewart Livig Omnimedia does the same thing with its Martha’s Circle, co-CEO Wenda Harris Millard says, because “magazines are wonderful brands and the networks are not going to protect [them]." But we know what's really going on here.Publishers are bad-mouthing ad networks, only to offer the smaller publishers who really need them their own networks instead. That's not cutting out the middleman to protect brands — that's steering away interlopers from outside the media business, while jealously guarding their relationships with Madison Avenue. Either way, smaller publishers which can't afford their own salespeople will get taken to the cleaners. It's just a question of who drives.
Media buyers and major publishers say that despite ComScore shareholders' worries, Google's Ad Planner, which provides Web metrics and demographic data to online advertisers, won't dislodge Web-traffic measurement leader ComScore or its rival Nielsen. “[Google needs] to add so many things, it’s not even a consideration at this point,” Mediasmith CEO David Smith told Mediaweek. “It’s absolutely not ready for prime time.” And publishers say Ad Planner won't provide advertisers a more accurate look at their inventories. “Their numbers are as bad or worse as anybody else’s out there,” Forbes.com CEO Jim Spanfeller said. So why bother? Google just wants advertisers to pay more attention to the sites it reps through its AdSense network.