At 11, Nicholas Coleridge thought a journalistic career would be an enjoyable doss; 40 years on, the Old Etonian is running Conde Nast UK with increased circulation, headcount and profits. He believes his beautiful products will beat the web any day. Matthew Gwyther reports.
Optimists are thin on the ground in the world of media at the moment. The industry is enduring a battering the like of which it hasn't seen for decades. Worse, it is being storm-tossed by two separate weather systems. Firstly, there's the cyclical monsoon of economic downturn, experienced by everyone in business: advertising budgets get washed away very early in the cost-reduction process. Secondly, and more alarmingly, there is the possibly irreversible climate change caused by the rise of the internet.
The fact that the web offers so much for free threatens to drown the conventional business models of media companies who sell information and advertising space to the world. Print media appear especially vulnerable: newspapers, local and national, are being blown over in increasing numbers. Even those with rock-solid roots are concerned. There is, for example, a rumour that Paul Dacre - the estimable editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, owner of the Daily Mail - may be willing to close down his organisation's websites until a rival works out a method properly to 'monetise' and make them pay for their own lunch.