Iconic titles — from Sports Illustrated to FORTUNE to Salon — are worth saving. All they need is a rebranding that’s so out-there, it just might work

Illustrations: Julien Posture

Almost seven years ago to this day, I was a 20-year-old intern at TIME Inc. having my first small taste of life as a media consultant. While I normally brought home $9/hour, the company offered me a single-day promotion, allowing me to pocket $450 to reverse-mentor a retiring senior executive on the fundamentals of Twitter. The media maven approached the session with genuine curiosity, probing me as if I were Jack Dorsey as I walked through the basics of hashtags and distilling your stream of consciousness into 140 characters. …

We’re all being duped by extremely questionable data

Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/Getty Images

Last month, The New York Times published the comical notion that Google makes $4.7 billion in annual revenue from news publishers. The statistic was based solely on a 10-year extrapolation from a single off-handed comment Marissa Mayer made in 2008. By the same methodology used in this study, I can now sprint 100 meters in about three seconds and drink around 200 Bud Lights in a single night.

As this “fact” was remarkably egregious, it got its day in the court of public opinion and was roundly mocked across the web. Unfortunately, when it comes to statistics haphazardly tossed out…

‘Information wants to be free,’ and other lies we told ourselves

Credit: Simone Golob/Corbis/Getty Images Plus

As invitations for my five-year college reunion hit my inbox and countless pleas to pay into Northwestern University’s $7 billion slush fund blow up my cellphone, I’ve been waxing nostalgic about my time as a journalism student. I strolled in as a starry-eyed freshman in September 2010 with media morale arguably at its historical low point — just one year removed from the New York Times taking a $250 million loan from Carlos Slim Helú at the nadir of the financial crisis.

I remember the incoming freshman speech like it was yesterday. The message from the dean at the time…

The tech elite live in a different world than most of us, and they won’t fix what they don’t see

Photo: Amy Osborne/Getty Images

As the “days since last Facebook scandal” meter hovers permanently near zero and life inside and around Facebook is described as “fresh hell” and a trauma floor, logic would suggest that the entity as a whole is facing an existential business crisis.

Nope. The company’s stock is up 40% so far this year as “fresh hell” continues to be stunningly profitable. Moreover, if you work in technology, at least one person you know who has a solid moral compass has excitedly started a new job at Facebook without a shred of cognitive dissonance.

How is any of this possible? How…

A modest proposal to address the college admissions crisis

Let twice as many people through this bad boy

Across America, today is the deadline for millions of 18 year-olds decide which institution of higher learning they’d like to take on shitloads of debt to attend. Happy Decision Day kids!

This year, my alma mater (Northwestern) proudly proclaimed that it had rejected 91.1% of applicants for the class of 2023. We’re far from alone. Harvard rejected 95.5% of applicants, Columbia 94.9% and Duke 92.8%, all trickling towards new heights of elitism.

Inevitably, this number always stirs up a sort of perverse pride among young alumni about how there’s no way we would get into Northwestern now. “DId you see…

Can we trust our tech overlords to bundle the publishing industry?

Photo: Noah Berger/AFP/Getty Images

For a company that looked like it had frankly given up on selling to the commoners, Apple’s keynote this week was a refreshingly egalitarian product launch. The company announced a low-interest credit card, a TV streaming service, and the long-awaited Apple News+.

Even with the ludicrous 50 percent tax Apple levies on publishers, the potential ubiquity (read: 1 billion iPhones) of Apple News+ makes it about as close to a potential savior of journalism as the free market has the ability to create. No other company can offer the same scaled combination of distribution and bundled incentives to entice people…

Tech titans chased growth at all costs, forgetting about content until it was too late

Credit: serazetdinov/iStock/Getty Images Plus

For a zero-growth business, media sure gets a lot of love from an industry that is obsessed with growth at all costs. To this point, the results haven’t been great.

Venture capital is getting lumped in with private equity as a two-headed corporate boogeyman that is destroying the fourth estate. This is fundamentally unfair. Private equity firms, such as Alden Global Capital, follow a methodically bloodthirsty pattern: They pounce on wounded media companies, rip out vital organs while the animal is still alive, and then try to sell the carcass at a tidy profit. …

What New York magazine opening a brick-and-mortar store tells us about the new media business model

Photos: Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for New York Magazine

Probably like many men in long-term relationships, I spent Christmas Eve hopelessly meandering through U.S. retailers, trying to find a solidly adequate gift for my fiance. Maxed out on giving jewelry or vacations that I secretly wanted to go on, my travels brought me to the storefronts of Soho in New York City, brimming with the real-life presences of beloved digital brands such as Allbirds, Warby Parker, and Untuckit.

Amid the usual holiday glitz and glamour, there were really only two interesting ideas: Amazon 4-star, and a holiday pop-up by the Strategist, the commerce arm of New York magazine. Both…

5 things about the retail giant we should be paying attention to

Photo: Ali Balikci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

In a marginally better anticlimax than most M. Night Shyamalan plot twists, reports indicate that Amazon has decided to split its HQ2 between Long Island City, New York, and Arlington, Virginia. Mercifully, Amazon’s grand quest to use the starry-eyed idealism of mid-market politicians as a tax-evasion bargaining chip against NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is finally over. New York is getting 25,000 more sweaty bodies on the rush hour 7 train while Arlington will have lunchtime lines at Sweetgreen that stretch into the Pentagon parking lot.

Overall, the HQ2 hoopla was a brilliantly executed PR…

The recent purchase of TIME should remind publishers of the power a strong brand can wield

Photo by Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

Founded in 1756, The New Hampshire Gazette proudly bills itself as “the nation’s oldest newspaper.” With no online advertising whatsoever, the paper has endured the move to digital with little more than a steadfast commitment to its readers and brand identity. It’s a lesson the world’s largest publishers are finally taking to heart.

While not quite the nation’s oldest magazine, arguably our most iconic media brand now has a new owner with Marc Benioff’s purchase of TIME from Meredith Corp. …

Mike Mallazzo

Drinking gin and writing about the future of media and commerce.

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