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Time shakes up new media

The publishing giant reorganizes its new media operations and names an eight-year marketing executive as president.

Jeff Pelline Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jeff Pelline is editor of CNET News.com. Jeff promises to buy a Toyota Prius once hybrid cars are allowed in the carpool lane with solo drivers.
Jeff Pelline
3 min read
Time Incorporated said today that it would reorganize its new media operations and named Linda McCutcheon Conneally, an eight-year company marketing executive, as president.

The widely anticipated reorganization comes after long criticism of the print media giant's execution of its online strategy and its Web site, Pathfinder. The company's stable of well-regarded print publications remains profitable, but analysts estimate that Pathfinder continues to lose money.

But competition is intense. Other media giants such as Walt Disney also are gearing up their new media efforts, not to mention software giant Microsoft.

"We are better positioned to become profitable and become the new media leader than anybody else. It's about a war for scale," McCutcheon Conneally, 39, told CNET NEWS.COM today. "One of the fixes were going to make is a clarity to the approach to the businesses."

McCutcheon Conneally wouldn't predict when Pathfinder would be profitable, except to say that it wouldn't be this year. She did, however, say that Pathfinder had been growing.

Site traffic has increased 56 percent since January 1997, measured in page views, she added.

McCutcheon Conneally's predecessors also held the title of editor, as well as president, but she said she doesn't think her lack of editorial experience is a liability. She's leaving the editorial duties to online editor Dan Okrent. "I'm the grubby moneymaker," she joked.

"In this dynamic business, we wanted to better leverage our resources to improve our focus and efficiency," said Norman Pearlstine, editor in chief of Time Warner, in a statement.

A company spokeswoman said it is "too early to tell" whether there will be layoffs, although the staff will be reshuffled.

Under the plan, all new media efforts under Time Incorporated will be centralized. "Budgets will be rolled into one" and costs will be managed centrally, the company said. People assigned to online efforts of Time's magazines, such as People, Sports Illustrated, Money, and Time, will continue to work on their respective titles but will report to Time Incorporated's New Media.

That's a paradigm shift for many print media conglomerates that are expanding on the Web, including trade publications. Many of them run the magazines and their respective Web sites as independent units--but at the same time maintain a standalone "master" Web site that combines all the publications--in this case, Pathfinder. Some employees complain that the structure duplicates costs and can cause political infighting.

The reorganization also separates Time's new media business into five separate initiatives. The first is to continue to expand Pathfinder's audience; the second is to launch syndication efforts for Time's content; the third is to use the Web to market the content to an audience that can't be reached outside the United States; the fourth is to sell subscription renewals online, saving money; and the fifth is to create revenue from Time Incorporated merchandise.

The syndication of Time's content, such as a recently announced deal with AT&T's WorldNet access service, will continue, McCutcheon Conneally said. The company's content is in high demand by Net distributors, she said.

Some opportunities for e-commerce run the gamut: from selling videos from the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition to a database for the Fortune 500, she said.

McCutcheon Conneally will report directly to Perlstein. She replaces Time New Media president Paul Sagan, who resigned last October after less than 12 months.

She joined Time New Media in February 1995 as director of ad sales and marketing and was named vice president sales and marketing in September 1996. She previously held marketing jobs at Time and Money magazines.

McCutcheon Conneally also is a founding member of the Internet Advertising Bureau and serves on the company's the Board of Directors.

Last week, Time New Media's Bruce Judson, one of Pathfinder's first developers, resigned to "pursue entrepreneural-related interests." Pathfinder was founded in October 1994.