Time Inc. guild fails to read corporate website, missed the whole ‘we’re no longer a magazine company’ management memo

Jeff Jarvis notes (with his patented commentary) that Time Inc.’s editorial guild just won a contract demand that prevents magazine editors from having to require Guild members to contribute to the web.

According to WWD.com’s coverage of the Guild agreement yesterday:

“The magazines under Guild protection include People, Time, Fortune, Fortune Small Business, Sports Illustrated and Money. The contract clause comes after Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer and Time managing editor Richard Stengel sent memos to their staffs this summer that said print reporters were required to write for the Web; Stengel wrote at the time that performance evaluations of every Time writer, correspondent and reporter would include Web contributions. Though most reporters these days write for both print and online, The Guild, which does not protect dot-com employees, took issue with Serwer and Stengel’s demands.

What makes this matter even more bizarre are the contortions Time Inc. executives have been twisting into lately in attempts to describe their company — the world’s largest magazine company — as something other than a magazine company. (I blogged in detail about this in May.)

So, it is with even more irony that the Guild would seek a contract that will prevent its members from having to do anything but write for magazines, when Time Warner is telling its shareholders and the rest of the world that “Time Inc. continues to transform into a multiplatform publishing company that creates, sells, aggregates and delivers premier branded content through whatever platform consumers demand.”

This makes Jeff’s observation all the more relevant:

“Idiots. The Guild should be demanding instead that its members should all be permitted, encouraged, and trained to work for the web. The web is the future. But the Guild assure that its members will die with trees. This means that its members will not be qualified to work in the omnimedia future present. And tactically, it means that management now has every motive to get rid of print people and hire newer, cheaper, younger, more qualified web people.

Update: A Guild representative responded via comments on Jeff’s blog. Apparently, some facts and interpretations are wrong in the WWD.com report. However, there’s still not enough clarification to make me stop scratching my head over what Time Inc. executives consider their business to be. In fact, after his clarification, I’m even more confused.