Skip to comments.'E&P' Suspends Operations--Good Chance for Return (Editor & Publisher closes)
Posted on 01/04/2010 1:36:26 PM PST by Second Amendment First
E&P will shut its doors this afternoon after more than 125 years in operation as "the bible of the newspaper industry" and one of America's oldest magazines. Staffers are vacating the offices in New York City, but we still hope to be back.
We shipped our January issue on Monday and it will be mailed to subscribers next week. This Web site and our two blogs will remain alive but we will not be updating them after today. Office phone and email service will be suspended but staffers--a vast majority have worked here from 10 to 25 years--can be reached at the addresses below.
Several possible buyers have stepped forward but any firm agreement, we're told, is at least two weeks away. There appears to be a fairly good chance that Editor & Publisher will resume but we cannot say when or in precisely what form.
To check for updates, find out what staffers are up to -- and keep up with fresh news and commentary that some of us will continue to produce daily (in what we hope is merely an "interim") -- go to a new, possibly temporary, blog, "E&P In Exile," by clicking below. Leave a comment if you wish:
As many know, we got our surprising closing notice from The Nielsen Co. on December 10, which was met by outrage, thousands of supportive messages and even an unlikely place on the Twitter trending list.
Staffers decided to stay on to finish the January issue and keep our Web site going until the end of the year in hopes of encouraging outside help and bids for a takeover.
Below you will find all of our home emails. Stay tuned, check out the new blog, and thanks again for your backing and kind words. Speaking for the entire staff, it's been an honor, a challenge and a pleasure, to serve you.
UPDATE: AOL has just published a major piece on E&P:
Greg Mitchell (editor): Epic1934@aol.com
Charles McKeown (publisher): email@example.com
Shawn Moynihan (managing ed/online ed): firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Rosenberg (senior ed.): email@example.com
Joe Strupp (senior ed.): JoeStrupp@aol.com
Jennifer Saba (senior ed.): firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Fitzgerald (editor-at-large): email@example.com
Reiko Matsuo (art/design director): firstname.lastname@example.org
Betsy Maloney (assoc. advertising director): email@example.com Greg Mitchell (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor. His latest book is "Why Obama Won." His twitter feed is @GregMitch. He blogs at: http://gregmitchellwriter.blogspot.com/ ...His new Web series is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5BgUwzvYJw
By Steve Outing
Published: December 29, 2009 11:25 AM ET
NEW YORK Back in 1995, Editor & Publisher invited me to start writing a freelance column for its brand-new Web site, initially called MediaInfo.com. An ex-newspaper journalist, I had become an early "expert" on the intersection of online services and the World Wide Web with the newspaper industry, and I began covering interactive media for the bible of the newspaper industry.
Nearly 15 years later, this is (most likely) my last column, if E&P -- the magazine and the Web site -- disappears from view.
Back when I started, I couldn't possibly have guessed that: 1. I'd continue to write this column for that long. 2. The newspaper industry would fail to benefit from the Internet, and bequeath opportunities to eager entrepreneurs who did capitalize, big time, at the expense of newspapers.
A confession As much as I have loved newspapers, since the Web came along in late 1993, it hasn't been the paper, per se, that I loved -- but rather the type of journalism that newspaper companies were able to produce. While far from perfect, newspapers were able to afford the big editorial staffs, which other media forms could not, to cover their communities well and (often) uncover mistakes, corruption and wrongdoing by government and business.
In fact, in the mid-1990s I really expected that by 2009 there to be a lot less paper moving around. I hoped that would be the case, actually, since the trees felled and all the trucks spewing pollution throughout the process of getting newspapers onto millions of home driveways each day has long struck me as environmentally damaging and ultimately unsustainable.
Back then, had you asked me to project 15 years ahead, I would have suggested that newspaper print editions would get overtaken in usage by online and digital replacements, and that primarily the older generations would still be reading on paper. Actually, that's why I chose the name of this column, "Stop The Presses!", back in 1995. It felt right, both hearkening to the past and foretelling the future. My E&P editors in 1995 were savvy enough to get the joke, and overlook the possibility that some E&P readers might take offense at what my column's name implied.
Back to the present, I've decided to end this column with two lists: 1. How things should have gone for the newspaper industry. 2. Since they didn't go that way, what to expect next.
The 20/20 hindsight fantasy scenario If Quentin Tarantino can produce a fantasy revisionist-history blockbuster like "Inglourious Basterds," about a band of Jews killing Adolph Hitler and the Nazi leadership, then I can script how the newspaper industry's previous 15 years should have played out.
1. In 1994-95, newspaper executives recognize that the Web is something with the potential to rock their world, and increase R&D budgets significantly in order to plan for and begin building new businesses based on fast-developing new technology. Knight Ridder (now defunct) does not shut down its pioneering Information Design Laboratory (1992-95) in Boulder, Colorado, and transitions into a corporation that goes on to build successful Internet businesses that complement its core newspaper publishing business.
2. Learning from media history (e.g., TV started out as radio with a video image of the announcer speaking into a microphone), newspaper leaders decide not to repeat it this time around. They direct new-media R&D staff to design new online services that create original content and new utilities -- things that are not possible in print but are online. Print journalism is still leveraged online, of course, but it does not dominate the new-media team's thinking or mission.
3. Fat and happy with enviable profit margins, newspaper companies' leaders take note of the wave of Internet start-up companies in the late 1990s. Business development executives with technology experience are brought in from outside the newspaper industry to identify the most promising trends and start-up companies, and begin making acquisitions and/or significant investments, in a big way. Newspapers may be fiscally fat and happy, but their leaders want more, see opportunity, and they have the money to invest in complementary Internet businesses.
4. Some of these investments and acquisitions take off, and newspaper companies have on their hands complementary businesses that will grow to dominate their sectors. Newspaper executives take a mostly hands-off approach, leaving evolution of the acquisitions to technologists who have their eyes on media's future.
5. Even though these new digital acquisitions seemingly (through late-1990s news-leader eyes) have little to do with the uber-profitable business of publishing newspapers, the acquisitions are marketed (at little or no cost) aggressively in the newspapers. Newspaper executives, educated and persuaded by the technologists they've brought on board, foresee the day when their new acquisitions will out-earn print revenues.
6. Newspaper executives and editors early on grasp the essential difference between print publishing and the Internet: one-to-many only, vs. one-to-one (plus one-to-many). This epiphany, experienced early on, permits industry investments and acquisitions into new businesses that leverage the ability for people to communicate with each other online; newspaper companies end up being part of what eventually becomes the social networking industry. Journalists are educated on interaction with the audience as a result of their employers entering this new space, and that begins the cultural transition of the newsroom toward an interactive relationship with readers rather than the lecture model.
7. As the Internet bust of 2000 hits, newspaper executives begin to doubt their strategy, but their portfolio includes some Internet companies that ride out the temporary slump. As the Internet bounces back, newspapers recognize the wave heading back up and resume their digital-expansion strategies.
8. In the mid-2000s, the era of cheap money, newspaper executives see the tremendous growth of the best Internet companies and resist inclinations to consolidate and acquire other newspaper companies. Instead, they up the game of complementary acquisitions and investments in the digital and burgeoning mobile spaces.
9. As reader and advertiser behavior changes, newspaper companies accept the fact that their newspaper operations will produce less profit and soon will need to either cut staff or subsidize newsrooms from more profitable new businesses. Because of their foresight, they are able to maintain high editorial quality while making the transition to a digital-centric model for their core news business.
10. The late-2000s recession is ridden out by newspaper companies because they have diversified and grabbed the digital opportunities as they arose early on. There's still room to invest and focus on the next big media opportunity: mobile content and services.
Ahh, that sounds so simple. If only someone had created a time machine in the mid-1990s, then comic-strip artists and late-night comics wouldn't be making fun of newspapers as today's buggy-whip makers.
What's next Since the newspaper industry in general took the wrong path, let's get back to reality. Here's what we're likely to see in the next few years as a result of how newspaper leaders chose to respond to disruptive technology.
1. Small-town independent newspapers don't grow much, but they are able to continue with healthy print circulation for several more years. But eventually, they start hurting more, like their metro cousins, as local advertisers shift more and more money to cheaper, more effective digital advertising opportunities.
2. Urban metro papers continue to shrink. More papers stop publishing in print on some days of the week; others go to Sunday-only for print and online/mobile for the rest of week; and a few go entirely digital. Unfortunately, we see some more newspapers die.
3. The wave of small news start-ups -- non-profits, hyper-local for- and non-profits, placebloggers who've figured out how to make a living, combo professional- and citizen-reporting digital news services, university-affiliated news entities, etc. -- that we see emerging today grows rapidly. Journalists laid off or bought out by newspapers start many of these services, aided by new companies that help them on the advertising, business and technology sides (e.g., GrowthSpur ), and new local digital ad networks serving all local media, new and old.
4. Some of these small entities partner with local newspapers, gaining for themselves revenue to support their mission, while giving the newspapers quality content much cheaper than the papers could produce it themselves. This is especially the case with costly and time-intensive investigative journalism, where local non-profit public-interest news sites (a la VoiceofSanDiego ) partially support themselves with money from "old media."
5. News aggregators (Google News, et al) and personal digital agents (e.g., Circulate, but more likely to come from the likes of Google or Facebook) become the norm for consumers getting their customized news streams on their computers, mobile phones, e-readers, and other devices. As a result, newspaper Web sites become less important. Newspaper publishers and editors learn, in order to survive, how to get their content into all the appropriate streams. And they develop ways to monetize content as it flees the home pond (Web site) for the many new streams (aggregators, agents, social news streams, etc.). Those that don't, die.
6. The saber-rattling over pay walls at newspaper Web sites will die down as Google, which many newspaper executives seem to perceive as the No. 1 cause of their woes, accommodates their concerns and introduces more technology that helps news producers turn digital dimes into quarters (or more). Paid content by newspapers is supported by new systems, but it's a small amount of the content they produce.
7. Newspaper companies that do survive and prosper do so by devoting significant resources (at executive and technical levels) to mobile as the next platform of opportunity. They don't repeat the mistakes of a decade earlier made with the Web, but instead raise mobile to a top priority.
8. Newspapers that do well adapt quickly to the instant nature of crowd-sourced news (e.g., aggregating and filtering eyewitness reports from Twitter), rather than fight it.
9. Some newspaper companies survive the journey across the chasm between the old print-centric model and a new digital model. These are most likely the companies whose board of directors install new leadership not chained to the success of past business models. Among the survivors, we're more likely to see repeats of National Public Radio's digital transition, where a new CEO (Vivian Schiller) was hired because of her digital experience, mindset and vision, even though she had less of that for radio.
10. I continue to write about the future of news on my personal blog, but don't emphasize newspapers so much.
Bye, for now I'm looking forward to re-reading this column in about five years, to see if I'm on target or missed widely. Meanwhile, you'll find me focusing on a new project, the Digital Media Test Kitchen at the University of Colorado at Boulder, hosted by the School of Journalism & Mass Communication. Watch my blog and you'll soon see that launched.
To everyone who's read this column over the years, whether routinely or occasionally, thank you for taking some of your valuable time to listen to my ideas, and respond and interact with me. To everyone I've talked with or interviewed over the years, thank you for educating me on innovation in news and sharing your knowledge and vision.
Lol...ya. Good luck with that.
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Clueless and verbose to the end.
I would send all those people listed above and email, but no matter how factual and honest I could be in pointing out exactly what they did to cause their own demise it would fall on deaf ears.
Good: the contributors, to a person, were America-hating liberals.
I’m mystified as to the snide and somewhat celebratory attitude some here take toward an American industry in distress.
We are increasingly a short-sighted culture. And we like to place blame. The news media — particularly the print media, in this case — by being out front, accepts its role as the bearer of bad tidings. The messenger gets stoned, so to speak, and that’s been the case for millenia.
However, our short-sightedness also comes with a bit of amnesia. While we resent the media for honoring 0’s ascendancy, we also forget the many instances over the years when we’ve known of the failures, the struggles, the misdeeds, the important issues of our people and our times. The print media gave us that, and we as a society lose every time a paper silences its presses.
The Founders knew the value of an unshackled media, thus its inclusion in our Bill of Rights. Ever look back at the broadsides of that day? We may resent media opinion today, but it is milquetoast in the context of history.
Depends, of course, which side you’re on and which side you’re reading.
Some seem to think that print media is fading because some outlets print editorials that don’t agree with the conservative position, that readers have turned away.
Readers have indeed turned away, and it has nothing to do with politics. They can now get for free on the internet what they used to get from classified and display advertisements. Who buys a newspaper to shop anymore?
Want to hear the latest news? Sign on to the internet or switch on cable TV. Politics has little to do with newspaper woes; technology does, indeed.
Freedom of written and broadcast opinion, then and now, is one of our most valuable rights. That celebratory party you seem to want to throw might better be a wake.
We are the losers here.
Winners. We are the winners.
And what on earth do you think you’ve won?
Fewer media outlets, particularly in the times we’re living in and in the turbulence that may lie ahead, is NOT a good thing.
Your myopia and your ignorance of history is astounding.
Ignorance of history? LOL!
For starters, tell me about Guttenberg.........are we better or worse off since he demolished the idea of only a few people having access to the written word?
What is happening now may very well be on par with Guttenberg.
If you’re trying to say that the internet is a good thing, I’m with you.
But trashing traditional media, particularly print media that has recorded our history since the nation’s inception, is both short-sighted and stupid.
We need both.
And Gutenberg is spelled with one t.
Gutenberg, I wonder why my spellcheck didn’t catch it?
What is happening now is we are losing the media the news is printed on and distributed by, but not the people who report on the news itself. Sure, there may be a ‘dip’ during the transition, but worthwhile journalists and newsmen will survive and emerge on the other side. They will be better journalists for it.
The deadwood, not so much, and we are better off without them. Let them eat cake.
You know what really bothers me? Everything becoming electronic and digitized.
Who doesn’t thrill to see the old headlines, the front pages, the clippings of the grandparents’ wedding announcement, the old photos with long-gone faces staring through the years?
We’re losing that. Sure, we can save to disk, but will anyone be able to see what we’ve left in 100 years?
And what if true disaster strikes? An attack on our electricity grids, an EMP attack. armed rebellion. No internet, the airwaves silenced — how will we communicate?
Better save some of those old presses. My hope is that the smaller community newspapers survive to record our history and to keep us in touch if we face nationwide crisis in the future.
Over time, even the more dense citizens begin to see the disconnect between what the papers reports and what they have learned from personal experience. They will find reports to confirm their reality, whether it be anonymous pamphleteers in the 1700's or internet blogs in present times.
While individual citizens may lack a large budget to fund investigative reporting teams, we can utilize online data to aid our own reporting. And we can do it with a wider perspective than we got from the NYTimes or WashPost. Just look at the reporting errors you see every day that FReepers are so good at spotting.
In the forty years of my adult life, I have been a voracious reader of newspapers of all stripes, learning of many people, places and events, but a decade ago I came to the conclusion that most, if not all large papers had become, if not organs of the state, organs of the left-wing agenda. The only thing I learned anymore was how total the propaganda had become.
We are not necessarily heading into fewer outlets for information, but a wider selection, if not always dependable. Not that the MSM was always dependable either. Most cetainly we are headed into a very turbulent period, but we will be better informed whether by internet, fax, phone. Or Paul Revere.
One of the best things here on FR are the daily posts of the New York Times, 70 years ago as World War II was beginning.
Just reading the quality of the journalism from those old newspapers, despite perhaps some of the editorial leanings they may have had, shows just how much the craft of journalism has fallen since those days.
I disagree, obviously.
Information about what is going on in the world is far more available today than ever before. One reason this is so is the decreasing ability of the professional journalism priesthood to control what people are permitted to know. The decline of these overwhelmingly leftist institutions is hardly something to regret, for those who cherish freesom.
Ah, freedom. For those who cherish freedom. Not freesom.