When news broke this morning that Gourmet, the best food magazine ever (to which I contributed now and then) was being brought back as Gourmet Live, not a magazine, but a holy meeting point of Foursquare, Facebook, Ipads/Ipods, Twitter, and Gourmet’s back-catalog I felt sad. It wasn’t just that the concept was pathetic, though it is: Gourmet is now going to be a community of registered users who look at recipes and food ideas and earn points the more their friends look at them. It’s pathetic on many levels. For one thing, it’s so obviously buzz-word and Internet marketing firm driven (the future is social media! kids love Foursquare because they earn points! your greatest fans are your greatest marketers!) And yet on another pathetic level: It’s so two months ago: Foursquare is already waning, Twitter is too, and Facebook has something that Gourmet never will: Your friends. So it’s just pathetic on every level: Condé Nast cheated of their money, future, and their very own assets by fast-talking internet marketing firms.
But you know what’s even worse? Si Newhouse used to know what made his properties valuable: Voice. Personality. Point of View. That’s why he hired Anna Wintour, Ruth Reichl, and all. And voice, personality, and point of view are what have been eating his lunch for a decade. To wit you know what these people all have in common?:
They have in common that they’ve got a strong voice, a strong personality, and a strong point of view and they’ve been using that voice and putting out their favorite cupcake recipes. But you know what everyone has? Cupcake recipes. Here’s another list:
Better Homes & Gardens
The back of the flour package
You know what they have? Cupcake recipes. You know how many cupcake recipes there are? Millions. The thing people need in life, the thing people will pay for is: Connection, validation, community. The way you create those things is through: Voice.
Here’s another list. You know what’s succeeded the past few years?
New York Magazine
You know why? Voice! Point of view! That’s what people connect to! And voice comes from people. So Gourmet got rid of their biggest asset: Their people. Ruth Reichl and all. And replaced them with the thing everyone has: The best idea of two weeks ago, and recipes.
As I said, when the news broke this morning I felt: Sad. Now I just feel sick.