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Variety’s Quasi Sunset

Posted on the 21 March 2013 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

TAKEAWAY: Variety, that daily newspaper with one of the world’s most enviable beats—- Hollywood—will not print daily starting Tuesday.  But it is not a total goodbye for Variety, which will now appear digitally and print a weekly edition.

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Variety not just covered Hollywood, but it was sometimes in the movies itself, as in this scene from Oscar winning film, The Artist, the 2011 Oscar winning French romantic comedy

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Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond an aging, fading star in the 1950 Billy Wilder classic Sunset Boulevard/photo courtesy of

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The newly redesigned Variety website

It is becoming a familiar story and one that we are likely to see repeated often in the future: a popular, even iconic daily newspaper whose management decides to stop daily publication in print, go full throttle digitally and salute print with a once a week ink on paper product.

Now it is Variety’s turn to make the transition. The show biz’ and entertainment industry watchdog, the one that many Hollywood stars and movie moguls read before they even brush their teeth in the morning (or so we are told), and, one that has appeared itself on TV shows and movies, most recently in The Artist and Argo, has just announced its new publication plans.

And so, it is so long, Variety, and hello Variety digital.  After almost 80 years as a Hollywood presence, Variety is changing the way it does business. The popular tabloid format newspaper now has to undergo changes similar to those that the industry it covers has had to adapt to: downsize, rethink, redesign, remake.

I fancy the reference from the Los Angeles Times story about Variety and fading movie stars:

So Variety is doing what all aging Hollywood stars do when they want to feel better about themselves: It’s getting an expensive makeover. The website has been redesigned and is now free to access. Starting next week, a revamped version of the 108-year-old weekly edition of Variety will make its debut.

Think Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in the classic Billy Wilder’s film, Sunset Boulevard. Like Norma, this aging but still here Variety, is ready for its close up, not on the big screen, but on all the small ones.

Hollywood people of a certain age, including plenty of modern day Norma Desmonds, will definitely miss coming into daily contact with the printed Variety

For a new generation of Hollywood movers and shakers comfortable with their digital devices, however, it will be as if the old Variety never said goodbye.

The shape of things to come

While on the subject of changes at Variety, it is probably safe to say that, when it comes to the fate of the printed newspaper, in my own view, we are going to see three developments taking place, some of them already quite obvious:

The survivors: The printed newspaper that continues to print daily and weekend, but with considerable reduction of sections (a good thing!), better content flow to accommodate today’s lifestyles, less of a protagonist role (become part of the media quartet and let digital break the news), and perhaps even a smaller format (think compact, or even A4!).  I see a large number of dailies worldwide going this way. For some this is already work in progress, for others in five years, or even 10 or more years. I have no doubt that these newspapers will not only survive, but may even thrive, once the transitional turbulence subsides. I am cheering for these!

The weekenders: They will give up on daily publication, extending the goodness and familiarity of their brand to digital editions, with emphasis on phone and tablet, but with a robust printed edition on weekends, full of sections, long narratives, good photography, the ideal print companion to digital that comes at the end of the week for long lean back and disconnect time.  The best ones will travel between content that circles the serious, the silly and the practical.  I hope to be involved in the remaking of some of these weekenders. These, too, will be happy survivors, after the initial trauma of daily print cancellation.  Variety is headed here, and I hope it is not just another day Variety for its weekly version.

The lingerers: The newspapers that will continue to print, perhaps almost in a robotic fashion, simply because they have owners who will not mind supporting them.  In some cases, the owners or the families who publish the newspaper consider it part of a mission to continue to do so, even at a loss. (However, I am aware of situations where newspapers that are not financially solvent continue to be published because they are a vanity project for an owner who simply wants to own a medium through which to express his/her political opinions/ambitions.  These owners keep the papers alive, but do little to change them to adapt to today’s publishing climate, which is sad). It is even sadder to think that these newspapers will be semi alive, like a patient with a terminal illness, but who’s kept plugged to life artificially. The question is: for how long?

And, indeed, there is a small fourth group that simply won’t make it, in print or digitally. I am hoping these will be the exception.  We know that today people spend more time consuming the information we produce than ever before.  A publication with a great brand name would be foolish not to capitalize on it through digital platforms.  Storytelling is storytelling, regardless of where it happens.  Think twice before sending your publication to its grave without considering the options available.

Of related interest:

Variety Goes Weekly, Names Three Top Editors

Where’s Mario until March 21, 2013?

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Mario’s upcoming speaking engagements

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Take advantage of our iPad Design/Ad Lab workshops

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Do you want to take your brand to the next level by creating a tablet edition? Garcia Media can help. We now offer one- to two-day iPad Design Lab workshops on demand to jumpstart your presence on this exciting new platform. We also offer iPad Ad Lab workshops to develop engaging advertising models for your app. Contact us for more information.

Variety’s quasi sunset

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