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Portfolio Postmortem: Business Mag Missed The Membership Mark

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From the ashes of just-shuttered Portfolio comes yet another smoke signal that the business of magazines is in need of a major tune-up — and fast.

The Deal‘s Yvette Kantrow today compared the now-defunct Portfolio to the currently expanding Bloomberg, pointing out that the latter does a much better job of providing a niche audience with a product its members are willing to pay for. Sound familiar?

It should: mediabistro.com founder Laurel Touby was singing that same tune when she sat down with The Deal’s Mary Kathleen Flynn last week to discuss the maladies of the media industry. In the video interview‘s second installment, Touby suggests that outlets monetize their content by making it an essential product to their specific readerships, which they should treat at member-based communities. “Treat readers as your friends that you want to help,” says Touby.

Seems Portfolio never got that message: “It never delivered on its lofty goal of creating something significantly different than any other business pub out there, even as editor Joanne Lipman gobbled up talent that the rest of media immediately labeled ‘stars,’” wrote Kantrow.

“Though Portfolio vowed to produce serious, yet-accessible long-form business journalism, it seemed to traffic more in luxury and CEO porn,” Kantrow continued. “To make it in business journalism, perhaps you need to serve people who actually like business.”

Megan Stride

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