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Time Inc. Takes Another Run at Digital Media

WSJ reports that in the fall of 1994, before most people had even heard of the Internet, Time Inc. took a bold step: It put much of its premium print content online for free, launching Pathfinder, a Web-based trove of its magazines, including Time, People and Money.

The move appeared to position the company to seize an early lead in the fledgling medium. Time Inc. had vast news-gathering resources and huge archives of text and photos, and Gerald Levin, the cerebral CEO of its corporate parent, Time Warner Inc., was a zealous advocate of the opportunities of the digital age. But instead of staking out new territory, Pathfinder fell off the map, plagued by strategic missteps and internal wrangling.

Now, Time Inc. is in the midst of another major effort to turn itself into a leading Web player. And this time, there is evidence that the publisher's management is willing to fundamentally alter the way the magazines are run to make the Web push work.

In recent months, Time management has taken steps to dissolve the divisions between its Web and print operations. It has made selling ads online a priority and demanded that writers produce more copy for its Web sites. It is also expanding the sites to include more video, blogs and photographs.

Former "Wonkette" blogger Ana Marie Cox has been hired to write for Time magazine and its revamped Web site, alongside Andrew Sullivan, another well-known blogger and columnist. Time Inc. has even launched an irreverent viral video Web site aimed at young male workers called "Office Pirates."

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