Business as usual with updated design and new features

Welcome to 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 years old, for pete’s sake, so a little cosmetic surgery can only help.)

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 about industry trends. 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 you need to know about.

Along with regular coverage — film, TV, technology, legit, music, below the line, legal, etc. — you will see new features this week such as Talent Watch and Money Trail. More will come in the future.

In the past two years, the Variety team began something we’d never done before: Surveys to ask readers what they wanted. The 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.

A few years ago many predicted the death of print. Obviously things have changed for many newspapers, but it’s interesting how many Variety readers still love to read us in print — and this is across the board, it’s not a generational thing. (And, as a bitchy aside, notice that those noisy showbiz bloggers who once predicted the death of print are now cranking out newspaper editions during awards season to try to fortify their little incomes. Gloat? Moi? Nah, life is too short.)

Other trade pubs and “industry” websites have reinvented themselves because their business models weren’t working. 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.

This is a work in progress. Give us feedback. We actually do pay attention.

TIMOTHY M. GRAY

tim.gray@variety.com

variety.com/gray

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