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Culture Editor Jonathan Landman Leaves the New York Times; Blogger Andrew Sullivan Leaves the Daily Beast

Jonathan Landman

First Landesman. Now Landman.

Jonathan Landman, who was named the NY Times‘ culture editor in September 2009, announced by e-mail to his staff today (as reported by Andrew Beaujon on the Poynter website) that he would be taking a buyout and leaving the newspaper. No successor has been announced at this writing. (The similarly named Rocco Landesman, as you remember, announced last month that he was leaving the chairmanship of the National Endowment for the Arts. His deputy, Joan Shigekawa is now NEA’s acting chairman.)

Landman’s departure is part of the continuing sad saga of the decline of print journalism: The Times reported on Dec. 3 that its executive editor, Jill Abramson “was seeking 30 managers who are not union members to accept buyout packages” as a cost-saving measure “in an increasingly troubled advertising environment.” Voluntary buyouts were also made available to employees represented by the Newspaper Guild.

This is the latest in a series of staff reductions at the paper, aimed at addressing the challenging economics of print journalism in the digital age.

Addressing the challenging economics of what I do, one of this country’s most widely read and most prolific bloggers, Andrew Sullivan (who once sent my traffic soaring when he linked to CultureGrrl), posted today that he was leaving the Daily Beast, which hosted his blog, to strike out on his own. His The Dish will charge readers a $19.99 membership fee but will allow non-members an unspecified “limited number” of free reads per month. (Access to the home page will be free to everyone, and links to Dish posts from outside sources won’t be counted towards the monthly quota.)

The blog’s subtitle appears to be a poke at Fox:


The Daily Beast (which hosted Sullivan when he left the Atlantic) was the online home of Newsweek magazine, which has just terminated its print version. (Newsweek’s editor-in-chief, Tina Brown, continues at the Beast.)

Less than three hours after his declaration of independence, Sullivan reported that he had received “an avalanche of memberships,” one-third of which were for more than the $19.99 minimum.

Less illustrious bloggers everywhere will be interested to see if Andrew, who has been tirelessly posting for more than 12 years (with help from a few staffers), can make this work. He blogged on his own for six years with only two pledge drives, and then partnered successively with three mainstream-media companies. (Time was the first.)

I’ve been blogging for six and a half years, with sparse contributions from readers (subtle hint?). What should be next? A mainstream-media connection? An intriguing but unlikely possibility. A membership model? I have a devoted following, but my niche audience of art lovers is a tiny fraction of The Dish’s readership for its wide-ranging political commentary.

“We felt more and more that getting readers to pay a small amount for content was the only truly solid future for online journalism,” Sullivan wrote.

I hope he’s a successful trendsetter.

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