The controversial founder of Spin magazine says most magazines today are “garbage” and the business is in the midst of a “Darwinian culling.”

“They are generic, lifeless, gutless titles embracing mindless voyeurism of vapid celebrity lifestyles,” Bob Guccione Jr., told Dirk Smillie of Forbes (5/03/10). He believes magazines aren’t attracting ads because their journalism isn’t risky enough. “What’s the point of media if you’re not rocking the boat?”

He doesn’t have much respect for the digital side either. “Most blogs are produced at a sixth-grade writing level,” he opines. “There are no Mark Twains out there.”

Publishers should focus on risk taking and reader loyalty, he thinks. “There’s too much obsessing about Web traffic,” he says. “Who cares if a website has 3 million monthly uniques if people aren’t engaged with the site? I’ll bet you Wine Spectator hasn’t grown that much over the years, but who wouldn’t want to own it? By doing this, we condition people to feel that fidelity is unimportant on the Web.

“In magazines, loyalty is a natural by-product. It becomes part of the identity of the magazine. I don’t feel that on the Web. I like the New York Times online, for example, but as much as I’m a fan, I’m not loyal to it in that medium. If they start charging for it, I’ll look elsewhere.”

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