Blog Post

Note To Variety: It’s Time….

Last week, a Leading Voices column of ours on the Hollywood trades and online competitors, by guest writer Ken Sonenclar, generated some discussion on our site, on Twitter, and private e-mails. So much so that Nikki Finke called me a “major asshole,” among other things. But that’s the predictable Nikki for you.

Among the comments on the piece, someone called “Jason” — obviously a former insider — wrote a long and impassioned plea for Variety to change. We’re reprinting it below as a separate post, because, who knows, maybe Variety and its bosses will get some good from it.


7 Responses to “Note To Variety: It’s Time….”

  1. Yes, tell it like it is. The attitude described at Variety is the same that has cost the music industry so much. Technology and content is about change, constant change and adaptability. The ones that can re-invent themselves are the ones that survive the long haul these days.

  2. This criticism of Variety sounds very familiar to me, especially if you just substitute the words Miami Herald for Variety in the story. And most particularly, this line: What is Variety doing – with its history, access, talent and management – to shake it up?

    The difference is that when I lived in the Washington, D.C. area, I was so keen on getting my issue of Daily Variety, which was delivered by messenger each morning within a VERY SMALL zone of D.C. which my office was NOT in, that thanks to a friend, I was able to have it delivered to the Army-Navy Building on Eye Street, where the New York Times’ Washington bureau is located.
    (It’s just across the street and only a couple of hundred feet away from the MPAA office and the late Jack Valenti, a DC icon and institution who despite his fame, was always the personification of the friendly Texan whenever I ran into him. He was one of a kind!)

    Maureen Dowd and I were the only two people “in the building” who subscribed to Daily Variety and she frequently picked-up my copy if she got to the building in the morning before I got off at the Farragut West Metro station, since they were left at the concierge desk. When she took mine by mistake, I was left with her’s.

    Meanwhile, at roughly the same time, a few years ago, the geniuses at the then-Knight Ridder-owned Miami Herald decided that they didn’t want to deliver their paper anymore to longtime subscribers in Palm Beach County who wanted the paper, even while they were still advertising the fact that you could purchase the Herald in many South American countries.
    At the time, this seemed to be a thinly-veiled attempt to appear still RELEVANT to elites and advertisers there.
    Especially the sort of high-profile people they want to attend their annual Latin American forum on exports and trade in Miami, which they always trumpet like it’s really quite something, running breathless prose on what the Ecuadoran Trade Minister said about something or another that 99.9% of Herald readers in South Florida and beyond have zero interest in.

    Of course, in some ways, that’s exactly the sort of thing Variety was writing about, the industry, it’s just that show biz is so much more interesting than agricultural tariffs.

    The corporate honchos at Knight-Ridder who were content to let the Herald readers make do for years with a third-rate website that would’ve been an embarrassment for newspapers in cities much smaller, were only too happy to throw longtime subscribers in Palm Beach overboard while appeasing people in distant lands who could care less if the Miami Herald existed, or covered the rampant corruption going on in South Florida’s City Halls and County Govt. redoubts.

    But publishing is still a business, so, that being said, how does the Herald justify only sending a reporter to cover my town’s City Commission meetings once in 19 months, despite all sorts of endemic corruption and longstanding examples of incompetence, while devoting countless resources to something nobody outside of the Herald building on Biscayne Bay actually cares about? How is that serving customers?

    Well, now those particular geniuses have been replaced by McClatchy’s set of geniuses, and despite some slight improvements to the website, and retaining natural institutional advantages and resources that other media in South Florida lack, the Herald is so far from what it once was or ought to be, that whether it survives or not is NO LONGER an issue of personal investment for readers like me but rather an academic exercise.

    Variety’s problems are, by contrast, much easier to solve, the question is whether they have the resolve to do the very things they have seemingly sworn they’d never do, in order to survive.
    Unfortunately for its readers, the Miami Herald seems to lack both the desire and the resolve.
    Personally, I have more faith in the people at Variety than I do at McClatchy and the Herald.