Business, Media

Liposuction at Conde Nast magazines

By Branko Brkic 29 September 2009

It may as well be the end of the world: the last bastion of uncompromising, high-quality, high-cost magazine publishing still standing, Conde Nast, is about to undergo the  unthinkable: a cost-cutting drive.

The imminent exercise is a culmination of a three-month project by McKinsey to establish how and where to cut without killing the company’s cherished brands.

From McKinsey’s perspective the job is simple: all the fat can be excised and a leaner, meaner company will emerge. Some estimates believe almost 25% of costs can go without affecting the magazines in readers’ hands. And they’re probably right: the world of publishing is having a pretty bad run right now and disaffected staff have nowhere to go anyway. Conde Nast has already closed Portfolio and Domino.

But, to many, Conde Nast’s culture has epitomised extravagant spending. To work there meant never having to think about daily expenses – or anything material for that matter. Conde Nast magazines are legend in their own bylines: New Yorker, Vogue, Vanity Fair. Their editors, the likes of David Remnick, Anna “The Devil Wears Prada” Wintour, Greydon Carter, are larger than life – and they cost plenty. Their armies of assistants, shrinks, stylists, chefs, drivers attend to their every need. Mind you, the supporting acts don’t have it bad themselves: Conde Nast parties, like Vanity Fair’s post-Oscar thrashes, are the best on the planet. Even the junior staff use town-car service when on assignment and stay only at the best hotels. Now the mighty are shedding the lard and the crash will reverberate through the magazine universe. And with it, down will go the dream of being a magazine employee and still living a good life.

Read more at the New York Times.

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