Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nielsen shutters Editor & Publisher (with updates)

As someone who spent their youth in the newspaper industry, this one hurts: 'Editor & Publisher' to Cease Publication After 125 Years.

According to E&P's editor, Greg Mitchell, employees will be around through the end of the year and will be updating the web site. But the print publication is closed immediately.  For my thoughts on this, follow me below the fold (with updates).

In either 2001 or 2002,  I sent my resume to VNU when they were searching for a new publisher. It seemed like the dream job for me: journalism background (check), many years in the newspaper business (check), advertising sales and sales management experience (check),  trade magazine experience at the publisher level (check).

Sadly no. No interview, not even a "thank you for sending us your resume". Grr.

The position was eventually filled and soon the weekly E&P became the monthly E&P. Since reading the classifieds and the NewsPeople sections were my main reasons for subscribing, I wondered how going monthly would effect the publication. But E&P survived and their online presence improved.

The real reason to keep subscribing to E&P, though, was Greg Mitchell. Greg brought new energy to the publication and was someone who was more visible outside the publication, as well. Greg didn't appear to be an industry insider (probably a strike against him). But Greg brought intelligence and superior writing skills to the position. His political perspectives and his columns concerning how the media was falling down on the job during the Bush years kept E&P a must read. 

(Because of all this, I often wondered, however, what the overlords at Nielsen felt about Greg's work. . .)

125 years*. During that time other publications that wanted to cover the newspaper industry have come and gone. But E&P has been the industry's voice throughout.  (For a short time in the 80's there was a very good magazine for the industry, but the name escapes me: smart, sarcastic, gossipy. It died, presumably, because no one wanted to advertise in a magazine that told the truth about what was happening to newspapers. Does anyone recall the name?)

Papers I have worked for (the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Santa Monica Outlook) have long ago folded, though some remain by under new ownership. And now E&P has folded.

I once joked to a colleague a few years ago that "nanotechnology" must be a real industry now because it has it's own trade publication.

In other words, is it really an "industry" if there is no trade publication writing about it? What does that say about the future of the newspaper?

* The AP's story on E&P's demise has this headline: Editor & Publisher closing after 108 years. E&P's site reads "125" because the original publication, The Journalist, originated in 1884.

Updates:
You can keep track of Greg Mitchell through his blog here.
CJR interviews Greg about the announcement.
Steve Outing, freelance columnist for E&P has his say.
Forbes interview with Joe Strupp.

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