Time Inc. Creating 'Digital Desks' and Magazine Hubs

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Time Inc. Chief Content Officer Alan Murray.
Time Inc. Chief Content Officer Alan Murray. Credit: Time Inc.
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In a "progress report" memo to Time Inc. editorial staff, Chief Content Officer Alan Murray on Monday announced the formation of 10 digital desks that will be dedicated to topics including business, celebrity, entertainment, food and sports.

"The job of each desk will be to cultivate and grow our digital audiences in its area," Mr. Murray said in the memo, which was obtained by Ad Age. "The desks will include reporters and editors from different brands who will continue to work for those brands, but the desk heads will coordinate their efforts to help Time Inc. innovate and grow."

Mr. Murray, in an interview back in July, when he was appointed to the top editorial role, said a priority would be figuring out how to better organize the company's disparate brands and pool resources where it makes sense. "It's not clear that the best way to attack that market is always with a single magazine brand," he told Vanity Fair at the time. "We have all these different lifestyle brands. What this new structure lets us do is ask, is there a way to put all of our lifestyle content together or all of our health content together or all of our news content together in a way that better serves the mobile, social audience better?"

In the memo, Mr. Murray, who also edits Fortune magazine, pre-empted any concerns about magazine brands being combined. "To be clear, this is not a centralization of edit teams or a diminution of the importance of our magazine brands," he said. "Rather, it is a reflection of the reality that the way we reach devoted digital audiences is very different from the way we reach magazine audiences, and it requires a different organization and approach."

Among other, more audience development-focused responsibilities, the digital desk heads will be tasked with "helping to serve digital advertiser demands and otherwise working to profitably grow the overall Time Inc. audience."

He also announced the formation of "multi-magazine hubs" that will handle production responsiblities such as design, layout, and copyediting. "We believe this will prove particularly effective for the monthly magazines and will help us deal with declining magazine revenues without sacrificing quality," Mr. Murray wrote.

Magazine companies are generally looking for opportunities to reduce the costs of the production process, when possible. In February, Hearst and Condé Nast announced a new business, PubWorx, that will centralize the production process for both companies, and is also looking for external clients.