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Word, Charged e-zines fold

The popular culture e-zine and the extreme sports site shut down, ending one of the longest runs so far in Net publishing.

The popular culture e-zine Word and the extreme sports site Charged have been discontinued, ending one of the longest runs so far in Net publishing.

Icon CMT Corporation (ICMT), an end-to-end Net access provider for businesses, officially announced today that it will no longer produce the sites, despite their underground popularity.

"While our online publications played an important role in establishing Icon CMT as a leading producer and distributor of online information and applications, the publishing business is no longer part of our core strategy," Scott Baxter, president and chief executive of Icon CMT, said in a statement.

Between both publications, about ten people were laid off late yesterday, according to Marisa Bowe, who was editor in chief of Word. Launched in June 1995, Word was known for its rich and interactive display of comics and art, as well as fictional and journalistic stories and commentary about life, work, people's hang-ups, and ordinary things.

"We had a certain sensibility that was off from the mainstream without being in-your-face about it," Bowe said today.

"We spent no money on advertising and had 120,000 page reads a day," she added. "But [Icon] isn't a media company, and it has had to focus on its core business" since going public last month.

Similar to HotWired's also defunct "Adrenaline" section, Charged focused on action sports, such as skateboarding and surfing. The site also featured articles about movies and games.

The folding of Word and Charged is a reminder that many high-profile experiments in online publishing are coming to an end. Investors want to see these sites make money--whether or not they are editorially compelling and have loyal readers. The same goes for print magazines about the Net. (See related story)

For example, in November, Wired Ventures said it would cut 33 positions at its money-losing Wired Digital unit. Lifestyle sections such as Rough Guide also were to be phased out.

Archives of Word and Charged will remain available online, and Icon said it is still open to prospective buyers.

Bowe would return if Word was revitalized. "We would love to talk to anyone who was interested in helping us keep the traffic, brand, and identity," she said.