Friday, January 14, 2011

A Tag Line Retired

"Directors & Boards is to the field of corporate governance what Variety is to show business."

That was the judgment rendered 10 years ago by the New York Stock Exchange's nyse magazine, at that time a well-written and designed publication distributed to the Exchange's member companies. In its Winter 2001 issue, the magazine took a look at what was ahead for corporate boards and turned for insight to Directors & Boards as one of its primary sources.

When the article appeared and we saw what was written about us, our reaction was, "What a wise conclusion this authoritative outsider came to." Of course we used the NYSE's Variety comparison as a tag line in our promotional materials and other outreach to the governance marketplace. Beyond the feel-good nature of this commendation, we did feel they got it right — that we were producing a journal that anyone serving on a board or interested in being a director needed to read, just as anyone working in the entertainment industry needed to be reading Variety.

But that apparently is not the case anymore when it comes to Variety. A recent report in TheWrap, an online Hollywood news service, concludes that Variety has lost its once-dominant position in the entertainment must-read hierarchy: "Beset by aggressive competitors and shackled by a paywall in the age of instantaneous news coverage, Variety has become a shadow of its former self," writes TheWrap's Sharon Waxman.

As someone who first started being an avid Variety reader in my teens, I am saddened that it may be sliding into irrelevance. And I am almost inconsolable that it looks like we must retire what has been a venerable descriptor for Directors & Boards. As I read other coverage coming out of Hollywood that traces the ups and downs of the trade papers, it unfortunately appears that Variety is no longer to the field of show business what Directors & Boards is to corporate governance.