Publication gets a facelift

This past weekend, we unveiled the brand new weekly Variety — which is exactly the same as the old one, but different.

There’s a new design and a few new features. But basically, our mandate hasn’t changed: We’re still covering the business for people who work in the industry. In a time of constant changes, there aren’t many news orgs still doing that, so we’re happy to keep the focus. But like many showbiz veterans, we concluded it was time for a facelift. (I mean, Variety is 106, for Pete’s sake, so a little cosmetic surgery can only help.)

I wanted Daily readers to know, because there’s a lot of misinformation out there in the world of showbiz reporting — as you may have noticed. There is surprisingly little overlap between readers of Daily and Weekly. So if you’re a reader of both, fine. If you’re interested in starting with Weekly, that’s fine too: With Variety, a subscription to one entitles you to the other.

Either way, I wanted to clarify the new/same Weekly and, as a bonus, to correct some misperceptions about us. Here’s what Weekly won’t be: It won’t be a “new direction” for the paper. It’s won’t be a consumer-gossip-celeb-driven look at the industry. And it won’t be a summary of stories that have already appeared in Daily. (It hasn’t been that for many years, but some readers still have that image. Ah, well…)

Here’s what Weekly will be: We will continue to run longer think pieces. And, as the biz expands its global view, we will carry even more international news. We will also be more people-focused, with profiles of executives and creatives whom you need to know about.

Along with regular coverage — film, TV, technology, legit, music, below the line, legal, etc. etc. — there are new features such as Money Trail (a look at showbiz funding) and Talent Watch (profiles of producers, directors and writers whose experiences can offer insights into the industry). And more additions will come in the future, both to Daily and Weekly.

In the past two years, the Variety team began something we’d never done before: surveys to ask readers what they wanted. The overwhelming response was that we should keep doing what we’re doing, but even better. Readers want serious coverage of the business. Happy to oblige. Several also described us, affectionately, as a community paper. Which is true, even though the “community” is global.

Since we’re offering new ways to read Variety, such as news alerts and iPad applications, some readers have expressed concern that we might phase out the print business. Wrong, wrong, wrong. We’re adding options, not subtracting them. The philosophy is that you pay one subscription price, and you can read us any way, anywhere you want.

The reports of print’s death were greatly exaggerated. Sure, things have changed in the news world, but it’s interesting how many Variety readers (across all generations) like print. (And, as a bitchy side note, it’s interesting that showbiz bloggers who once predicted the death of print are now cranking out newspaper editions during awards season to fortify their little incomes. Gloat? Moi? Nah, life is too short.) Other trade pubs and “industry” websites have tried to reinvent themselves. Our biz model is working, so we don’t need — or want — a transformation. So this is not a relaunch, not a reinvention. Variety is still B2B, as they say. To repeat, it’s the same but different: same goal of giving you need-to-know info.

Change is always unsettling, especially in the tumultuous 21st century. But a few tweaks are consistent with our tradition, otherwise we’d still be covering vaudeville and Wild West shows.

Weekly Variety is a work in progress, as are Daily and Variety.com. Give us feedback. We actually do pay attention.

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