ArtInfo.com has a little more depth on the sale of the Magnum print archive worth an estimated $100 million to Michael Dell’s MSD Capital. A couple bits from Magnum’s managing director Mark Lubell reveal that he “developed a three-year ‘turnaround business plan’ to move the co-op away from the revenue streams it had traditionally relied on. And that, “Magnum’s 51 members and 13 estates voted for the plan unanimously.” (story here)
Although he declined to go in to detail about how the company plans to use the proceeds from the sale of its archive, Lubell says that some money will go toward a Web initiative that will give photographers a platform to distribute content. Funds will also be devoted to helping photographers reach field destinations for stories and see them through long-term — the kind of journalism that was once Magnum’s bread and butter. For instance, photographers will be sent to Haiti over the next 12 to 18 months to document the nation’s effort to rebuild. After the initial tragedy subsides, “everyone leaves,” Lubell says, and because the aftermath isn’t headline news, coverage of continuing crises typically aren’t “funded in traditional media circles.”
I’d heard rumors in the past that the members fully understood that if Magnum were to have a future they would have to forge it without the help of magazines and newspapers. It looks like we’re about to watch that plan unfold.
It’s interesting to contemplate how in-depth coverage came to be packaged with junk and now that people can get their junk without their depth the numbers don’t seem to support that kind of thing anymore. I like the idea that when people say stories need to be shorter Magnum could do the opposite and make them longer than ever before. That’s the kind of thinking that will lead to a solution at some point. Some of my favorite moments working at a magazine have been getting shoots back from photojournalists. No one can tell a story, capture defining moment, thrive under duress and deliver the goods like they do. I can’t imagine a world without them.