Barney's Rubble

TechNet Magazine Makes News

Five magazines in five years? And they said print was dead.

If you listen to media pundits, you'd think print is more obsolete than 8-track cassettes. But what are you doing right now? Reading crisp, clean type on a nice white page, with no flicker or electromagnetic emissions.

These same media brainiacs can certainly point to magazines that are out of print, everything from Byte to InfoWorld, PC Magazine to Network Computing. Doesn't that prove that if print isn't dead, it at least has one foot in the dirt?

Not at all. Most magazines that fail do so for a simple reason: Their costs are higher than revenue. When revenue dips and products fail, publishers blame the market. But here's a little secret. These books were built up when the market was soaring, and costs grew and grew. As things go south, it's impossible to cut enough to stay alive -- at least in print.

These publishers aren't dumb; they just inherited legacy books too fat to keep alive.

My group at 1105 Media is different. Five years ago we had one magazine, Microsoft Certified Professional. That morphed into the Redmond magazine you now enjoy. Then we launched Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News (RDN), bought and revamped Visual Studio Magazine, and decided to create Virtualization Review.

I think this track record is why Microsoft is now entrusting us with running its TechNet Magazine and MSDN Magazine.

Lest you think we're print bigots, we believe that some magazines can successfully shift to a Web-only model. RDN merged with Visual Studio Magazine, and now RDN has a comfortable home on the Web.

TechNet Magazine, likewise, is now Web-only. While it will still have the hard-core, hands-on content that made it famous, there will be far more reader involvement and constant updates. The best news of all? The man heading up TechNet Magazine is Jeff James, former editor in chief of Windows IT Pro magazine. Jeff and I go way back. He wrote reviews for me at AmigaWorld fresh out of high school. He knows technology, knows IT and knows how to write a great story.

MSDN Magazine, meanwhile, remains very much in print, but will also see an exciting lift in online content.

So, let's do the math. In five years we went from one magazine to five, and all this time print was supposedly dying. Hmm.

By the way, I still love 8-tracks!

Do you love print, or are magazines living on borrowed time? Don't waste paper, but e-mail me your thoughts at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Dec 9, 2009 James Pollock

OK, it is true that I did, in fact, first read this column in print form. But here it is on the web, too... and it reads MUCH more ironic now that it does.

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