NEW YORK (Reuters) - Time magazine hits newsstands on Friday with a new look to attract the Web generation as it bets that ink on glossy pages can satisfy readers in a way that the Internet cannot.
Time’s March 26 edition is the first to show the results of its attempts to cater to new readers, mostly through layout and design changes that managing editor Richard Stengel said reflects modern tastes.
That includes a cleaner look courtesy of more white space, as well as larger headline text and big bold photographs.
“I want it to be as beautiful and exemplify all of the things that print can do that the Internet can’t do,” Stengel said in an interview. “That’s the reason you want to have a magazine.”
The magazine also offers a mix of writing styles, from quick-hit bullet points to more contemplative features, to a mix of text and visuals that tell a complete story.
Time’s redesign is one of several things that publisher Time Inc. and its parent Time Warner Inc. have been doing to keep loyal readers while trying to attract new ones.
Time and other U.S. news weeklies have been fighting to retain readers as many of them spend more time getting their news on the Web.
Paid circulation is an important factor for advertisers. As readers forsake print editions, advertisers usually follow.
These trends prompted Time Inc. to cut 250 jobs in January and agree to sell 18 magazines to Swedish publisher Bonnier.
Other magazines have closed down and gone completely online, such as the U.S. edition of movie magazine Premiere published by Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.
“I‘m doing the opposite of running away from print,” Stengel said. Time refused to say how much the redesign cost.
Some experts have argued that print facelifts do little to fix underlying problems, but Time’s changes are a positive sign for the magazine, said Reed Phillips, a managing partner at media banking company DeSilva & Phillips.
“The fact that they are going to invest the money is a clear sign that they don’t think it’s futile, or they wouldn’t invest the money,” he said. “And at this stage you know Time Inc. is watching every dollar.”
Time also has focused more on analytical reporting to differentiate it from the wire service news that people skim on the Internet, Stengel said.
“The lion’s share of people online are not looking for things that are in-depth,” he said.
That does not mean Time has become a bastion of long stories. Many are short, such as “Downtime,” a section that includes weekend entertainment recommendations.
Another is “The Score,” a section that ranks celebrities’ popularity by adding the number of news and blog “hits” they generate in a Google search.
There are no fast rules on story length, Stengel said.
“A magazine is like a buffet,” he said. “Sometimes you want an appetizer, sometimes you feel like a big hunk of prime rib, and sometimes you just want a salad or something. You can find that in a magazine every week.”