Latest Tech Magazine to Contract

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Executives at Red Herring convened the magazine's staff this morning to break the latest news in the economically-battered new-economy magazine world.

Effective November, the title will become a monthly. Twenty-eight staffers, mostly in editorial, will be laid off out of a total workforce of about 170. Its last issue as a twice-monthly will be dated Oct. 15.

In a classic bit of new-economy bad timing, Red Herring changed its frequency to go twice-monthly last fall, just as the Net-related advertising boom softened.

'No real surprise'
"This should really be no surprise," said Julian Lowin, Red Herring's publisher. "We've been talking to some advertisers about" a frequency change "for a couple of months."

Mr. Lowin also said that when he was discussing taking the reins at Red Herring late last spring, there were already talks about potential frequency changes. As many as three special themed issues may be published in 2002 as well.

Twice this year San Francisco-based Red Herring scrapped a planned fortnightly issue. While the title has been brutalized by the tech downturn, circulation demand has been strong. For the first half of 2001, its circulation shot up 44.5% to 352,243, despite a sharp 51.2% drop in newsstand sales.

Red Herring went through a round of layoffs in May, after having gone through two in October and December of 2000. In April the title scored $15 million in new funding.

Mr. Lowin deflected questions about Red Herring's financial status to CEO Hilary Schneider, who in a statement through a spokeswoman said, "Red Herring continues to be a strong performer in the business publication category. We are always looking for strategic opportunities that allow us the flexibility to invest in various areas of the business."

'Yo Team'
In a note to the staff that started with the jaunty salutation "Yo Team," Ms. Schneider said that "advertising continues to rebound from the low levels of the early summer" -- a notion Mr. Lowin also played up, while conceding that Red Herring's ad page drop of 53% through July was unlikely to significantly change by the end of the year.

Ms. Schneider's internal e-mail made no mention of staff cuts.

The shutdown of The Industry Standard last month pointed not only to the dearth of ads targeting new economy types, but simply a slowdown of news as the entire sector stalled -- which makes Red Herring's frequency change a good idea in one media buyer's eyes.

"From an advertisers' perspective," said Charles Valan, vice president of strategic print services at Universal McAnn, New York, "I'd rather see a magazine deliver a whole on a monthly basis than half on a [twice-monthly] basis."

In early fall, Red Herring will begin a new trade campaign in conjunction with McAnn-Erickson, San Francisco, based around the tagline "Business Moving Forward."

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