Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Time Inc. Buys a $99k Home in Detroit

Bill McGraw of the Motor City Journal reports on Time Inc.'s purchase of a Parker Avenue home in Detroit for $99,000. The home (which sold for $252,000 a few years ago but has been for sale for two years now) will be the base of operations for some serious storytelling in the magazine publisher's portfolio of magazines, which range from the flagship Time to Sports Illustrated to This Old House.

This is an impressive angle to me for several reasons:

I love that it blurs the lines between residence and commerce. Setting up operations in a home is not a new idea, of course, but if the neighbors don't mind, it's an innovative way to get on the scene. Another example: a few years ago, and I can't find the link, I read about a Boston PR firm that had set up a summer house on the ocean as a sort of live showcase for new consumer brands, inviting waves of journalists to spend the weekend there.

This is also quite an investment for a publisher right now, considering the state of print. Sure, $99,000 is a modest NYC salary and they apparently paid cash. But in a time where many publishers are laying off people, cutting resources, and doing everything they can to find a workable business model - and Time itself closed its Detroit bureau about ten years ago - this is a considerable investment to be on the scene.

And finally, it illuminates not just the dire condition of Detroit's economy, but the national interest in doing something about it. If journalists believe one thing, it's that by telling stories in vivid, lifelike detail, they can make a difference by raising awareness. So it's a good sign that Time is coming to the neighborhood.

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