As the award season looms, the trades who live and die on Oscar ads (and indieWIRE is no exception) are lining up their big guns. Nikki Finke’s Deadline has lost ad sales juggernaut Lynne Segall, who is now throwing her muscle behind Janice Min’s The Hollywood Reporter, which is heading into its second Oscar season with a renewed sense of purpose, as the weekly print edition has not yet yielded the levels of non-endemic advertising that they had hoped for. Thus THR is adding Oscar-blogger Scott Feinberg to their online ranks in time for the Oscar season. Segall worked with Feinberg (“The Feinberg Files”) at LATimes.com’s The Envelope.
THR is a fascinating work in progress, as Min has built a sharp, traffic-chasing website–they’re actually trying to challenge EW’s online numbers—but has yet to find the right mix of elements for the glossy weekly, which may be on supermarket newstands, but remains a Hollywood trade. While diminished, Variety is the old-fashioned class act of the top three trades, partly because online traffic is irrelevant to them–they’re playing to their (aging) subscribers only, for as long as they last. Deadline bullet-points non-stop breaking news, and leavens that deluge with Pete Hammond’s thoughtful Oscar columns. He knows his stuff. The question remains how much of an ad sales hit they’ll take without Segall and her lucrative print editions.
THR is far more entertaining and tabloid, putting the Kardashians on the weekly cover, and heading downmarket with B-movie producer Avi Lerner, photographed with Robert De Niro and Katherine Heigl. But Variety is increasingly out of the conversation behind its pay wall and focused on its trade show business, a course also pursued by Sharon Waxman’s The Wrap. Variety doesn’t even have an Oscar blogger or columnist–aside from occasional commentary from editor Tim Gray–and they’re currently interviewing for a new awards editor.
It’s tough for the online-oriented trades to stay upscale when they are building numbers. But the whole point of awards season coverage is to appeal to the high-end Guild and Academy members. THR’s addition of Feinberg to the THR’s “The Race” blog is about adding volume and noise with multiple daily posts online (Feinberg will report to THR.com editor Joseph Kapsch; Stephen Galloway, Gregg Kilday, red carpet reporter Merle Ginsberg and jack-of-all-trades Tim Appelo will continue to file Oscar coverage for the daily and the weekly.) Feinberg is not nearly as respected a writer/columnist as Appelo, who holds his own with Deadline’s Hammond and The Wrap’s Steve Pond. Discerning Academy voters want to read intelligent commentary; they will tune out the cacaphony of noise.