I’m a hopeless creature of habit. I’ve worn the same make of shirts and shoes since my teens. I’ve driven the same make of automobile since 1972. When I become paranoid that one of my favorite products might be discontinued, I feverishly turn to stockpiling. (I’ve done that with a particular brand of after-shave since the mid-1990s.)
So you can imagine my disappointment when I learned on Monday that Conde Nast Publishing is discontinuing its “glossy business magazine,” Portfolio, after fewer than two years in publication. The fact that Portfolio achieved habitual status with a business journalism junky like me in such a short time speaks volumes to the quality of the publication.
I really look forward to each monthly edition. The extended story length enables a thorough portrayal of each subject. The editors don’t shy away from complex or controversial topics like monetary policy, financial engineering, sex discrimination in the workplace, and good, old-fashioned greed.
Best of all, I really appreciate the journalistic DNA that Portfolio shares with its Conde Nast siblings. The magazine’s unabashed celebration of the “cult of business personality” in in-depth profiles of the most colorful characters in business rivals anything in Vanity Fair. And the quality of the writing very often meets the standards of New Yorker.
It’s ironic that Portfolio’s final May issue is “The Leadership Issue.” According to the Wall Street Journal, Si Newhouse, the chairman of Conde Nast’s parent, Advanced Publications, “had high hopes for the publication” that he reportedly “loves.” However, Portfolio’s legitimate shot at leadership in the field of business journalism was ultimately undermined by the shortened horizon of today’s profit-challenged publishing industry. Not very “leader like.”
So, for now, I still have my New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and Forbes. And, who knows, Portfolio could come back some day. I went a decade without my Brooks Brothers yellow Oxford cloth shirts, and they finally came back. One can always hope.