“The goal is to be what we are, a great content company, and not a magazine company. We are a great content company that survives and lives on every form of distribution.”
In no uncertain terms, Time Inc.’s chair and CEO succinctly defines his vision for the company’s future, in an interview with Alexandra Steingrad of WWD.
It’s clear that, under Ripp’s guidance, Time Inc. is making that fully engaged in the shift from a magazine publisher to a media content brand. When asked who is making a success of this model in the current marketplace, he references National Geographic.
“They started out as a sleepy old magazine company owned by a not-for-profit organization. They are now a channel,” Ripp explains. “You can go on trips with them around the world. They have stores. They have games for schools. They have educational materials. They have super-served their consumers in a way that their brand allows it to be served. All magazine publishers should be thinking that way.”
And he feels that, in this age of constant content, journalism still plays a crucial role.
“I actually think there’s more of a need for journalism than ever before — especially when governments are racking up massive debt and there’s a lot of silliness going on in Washington. Having high-quality journalism is absolutely vital for our democracy. It is what defines us from the rest of the world,” he asserts.
That said, he is also a supporter of native advertising (remember the Time magazine cover ad last year?), and caused industry uproar when he moved the editorial side under the business arm of his company late in 2013, not long after taking the helm. Still, he defends this as the right choice.
“Most print editors are not very good at making videos and TV shows, and most print editors don’t know a damn thing about selling products and services. They are really good at magazines. We limited our ability to expand those brands beyond print magazines by putting print editors in charge of them,” Ripp said, adding that as long as you’re labeling what you’re doing as advertising, there shouldn’t be a problem with journalists working with advertisers.
It’s an interesting read and an insightful peek inside the head of one of the most powerful people in the media content business.