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Turning the page on print journalism
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Turning the page on print journalism

On Feb. 9, Dotdash Meredith — “America’s largest digital and print publisher” — announced the end of the print edition of Entertainment Weekly.

Leaving aside the fact that “Dotdash Meredith” sounds like a multi-level marketing company that sells whimsical knitwear and candles, this is very sad news, real end-of-an-era stuff.

Dotdash, a publishing unit of Fox founder Barry Diller’s InterActivCrop, purchased Meredith — home to such publications as People, InStyle, Better Homes & Gardens and EW — for $2.7 billion last year. At the time, CEO Neil Vogel claimed there would be no loss of jobs, but that promise wasn’t worth the digital platform it was printed on.

Last week’s announcement included the information that the transition is expected to terminate roughly 200 positions on the print side.

“This is an important step in the evolution of Dotdash Meredith, and I want to be clear with everyone about what we are doing and what is ahead,” Vogel said in a memo. “We have said from the beginning, buying Meredith was about buying brands, not magazines or websites. It is not news to anyone that there has been a pronounced shift in readership and advertising from print to digital, and as a result, for a few important brands, print is no longer serving the brand’s core purpose. As such, we are going to move to a digital-only future for these brands, which will help us to unlock their full potential.”

I’m not sure what the “core purpose” of Entertainment Weekly is, beyond “delivering entertainment news to people who care about entertainment,” but coming from a man who also used the phrase “cost synergy” to mean “laying people off,” I suppose clear language is too much to ask for.

I’ve been reading Entertainment Weekly since it came onto the scene in 1990. My family had a subscription and when I moved out, it was one of the things I splurged on. I still subscribe, even though “Weekly” became a misnomer back in 2019, when the print version moved to a monthly format, and even though a lot of the musical acts covered these days make me feel like an octogenarian.

It’s difficult to overstate its influence on me, especially back in those pre-internet days. EW introduced me to a huge world of filmmakers, authors, musicians and actors. Some incredible journalists — Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwartzman on film, Gina Arnold on music, Gillian Flynn (of Gone Girl and Sharp Objects fame) on television, among many others — really drove home that writing critically about entertainment was an art (and also a real job).

EW was unique at the time, different from its celebrity-obsessed sister publication, People, and the entertainment mags focused on industry insiders, such as Variety. It was serious about pop culture, but not snooty. The writing was fun, and sometimes irreverent, but offered context and history too.

I always imagined how cool it would be to go to work every day with people who loved pop culture as much as me, who saw the value in it, whether as frivolous entertainment or serious commentary or lasting works of art.

Luckily, I’ve found that kind of camaraderie at the Free Press, working with my fellow Arts & Life scribes who are so smart and funny, engaged and plugged in.

But I’m going to miss the arrival of my EW friends in my mailbox each month. I’m sure CEO Neil Vogel’s dream for the magazine’s digital future is a grand one, but for this paper-reared reader, it’s likely to get lost in the noise of the internet. To me, it’s a magazine, not a brand.

Jill Wilson

Jill Wilson

Jill Wilson

What’s up this week:

Manitoba Chamber Orchestra’s free online Winter Series continues on Thursdays until March 3. Tonight’s 7:30 p.m. show is Oblivion, featuring Rachel Kristenson (violin), Momoko Matsumura (viola and violin) and Minna Rose Chung (cello), performing Divertimento K. 563 (WA Mozart), Trio Op. 9-2 (Beethoven) Duet for Violin and Cello (Reinhold Glière) & Oblivion (Astor Piazzolla). Tune on the MCO’s website.

 

Rufus Wainwright (Facebook photo)

Tickets are on sale now for Rufus Wainwright’s upcoming show at the Centennial Concert Hall. The Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk singer-songwriter brings his Unfollow the Rules Tour to Winnipeg on April 15 at 8 p.m. Get tix here.

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The Foo Fighters announced Monday they would be adding 10 new dates to their upcoming North American tour; a Winnipeg show is among the additions. The rock band fronted by Dave Grohl comes to Canada Life Centre on Sept. 21. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. 

Comedian Nate Bargatze is bringing The Raincheck Tour to the Burton Cummings Theatre on June 16. The American standup can be seen in his Netflix specials The Tennessee Kid and The Greatest Average American, or heard on his podcast, Nateland. Tickets (price TBA) go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 18.

 

Recommended:

TV: Thanks to reader Kirk K. for reminding me about the excellent new version of All Creatures Great and Small; I had episodes of the new season piling up on my DVR. The PBS Masterpiece series is the latest adaptation of James Herriot’s autobiographical books. It follows the adventures of a young Scottish veterinarian who takes a job in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s lovely, comforting television, and beautifully shot; I wouldn’t be surprised if tourism in Yorkshire has seen a bump. The first season is streaming on CBC Gem; episodes of the second season are still airing but if you want to catch up, you can buy them on Apple TV. 

 

Julia Garner in Inventing Anna. (Aaron Epstein / Netflix)

Inventing Anna is the latest from hitmaker Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal), a lightly fictionalized version of the story of convicted grifter Anna Sorokin, a.k.a. Anna Delvey, who bilked banks, hotels and elite New York society out of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Based on the New York magazine article by Jessica Pressler, it stars Julia Garner (Ozark) as the self-styled “German heiress” and features a slew of Rhimes regulars. 

Though the limited series is on Netflix, it retains a bit of a network TV feel and overdoses on melodrama during its padded nine hours, but Anna is a fascinating character.




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