Will Vibe Reboot Digitally?

From NYC tipsite Idolater comes this  interesting tidbit (thanks to SFW Music Editress Jen Maerz for passing it on): One day after Vibe magazine announced 50 employees would be laid off and print operations would cease, founder (and Michael Jackson producer) Quincy Jones mulled the possibility of returning in a digital-only format. “I'm trying to buy my magazine back now,” Jones told EbonyJet's Adrienne Samuels Gibbs. “They just messed my magazine all up, but I'm gonna get it back. You better believe it, I'm'a take it online because print and all that stuff is over.”

Q clearly sees the writing on the wall–Idolator's report also mentions recent layoffs at Spin  –and such a move would make sense, for several reasons: 1) Vibe, which debuted in 1994, was a recognizable brand which appealed to a wide urban demographic. Fifteen years of publications is a long time, and it's doubtful any new title could emerge with any sort of built-in following overnight. 2) Vibe.com–for which I have occasionally written–was reportedly profitable, though the print edition has been bleeding cash for at least two years. 3) The big advantage of digital publishing is that it comes with less overhead than the printed page; in addition, there's no three-month gap between when words are written and when they appear, so it's possible to present current, up-to-the-minute content as well as breaking news.

However, several looming questions hang over Jones' head: Can Q rescue the brand name without assuming Vibe's heavy load of debt? And what digital model will Vibe.com v. 2.0 run with? Will they use assign the best and brightest freelancers (hint, hint) nationwide to pen revealing pieces which blend politics and culture such as tha homie Jeff Chang's coverage of the 2008 DMC and RNC conventions? Or will they cheap it out and rely on staff-generated content written by a small group of inexperienced scribes with limited reportorial skills? We're hoping on the former.

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