The iconic entertainment publication Variety will discontinue its daily printed edition on March 18th. The move is part of a broad reorganization to make its news coverage and distribution more friendly to the new world of digital media. Variety will also drop its online paywall on March 1st, and has named three new editors-in-chief, managing television, digital content, and film, respectively. A redesigned weekly print magazine will debut on March 26th.
"Internally, we've been referring to the paywall dropping as 'the end of an error,'" said Variety's owner, Jay Penske. "It was an interesting experiment that didn't work. We look forward to welcoming back longtime Variety readers when the paywall drops March 1st." Penske Media Corporation, which also owns the popular blog Deadline Hollywood, purchased Variety last October for $25 million in what the New York Times called a "fire sale" and a seizure by "blogger insurgents." Penske promised then to take down the online paywall instituted by its previous owners, but to maintain a presence in print. Now we're finally seeing what that looks like.
Since taking control of Variety, Penske has installed a new publisher, Michelle Sobrino-Stearns, and hired away Claudia Eller from the Los Angeles Times to head up coverage of the film industry. Variety's own Cynthia Littleton and Andrew Wallenstein will lead coverage of TV and digital, respectively. "Having three editors-in-chief… is an innovative approach to address the quickly changing media landscape. It is designed to foster collaboration in our coverage of these three core areas of entertainment," said Penske.
"Variety announced that its disastrous paywall is coming down March 1st when a very generic redesign debuts."
Deadline Hollywood editor-in-chief Nikke Finke was characteristically acerbic on the changes at Variety, which is an in-house competitor. Current editor "Tim Gray wasn’t fired as expected but instead demoted to overseeing international coverage and unspecified 'other special projects' after presiding over Variety’s humiliating loss of readership and influence and advertising," writes Finke. "Additionally, Variety announced that its disastrous paywall is coming down March 1st when a very generic redesign debuts." As of this writing, the beta preview of Variety's web redesign was broken, missing image assets.