Saturday, March 13, 2010

Week in Review

Short reads on a Saturday morning:

•  Well, it might not be here yet, but pre-orders have begun: Apple yesterday started taking orders for its iPad; and no, I didn't cough up the $500+ needed to be the first person at my local Starbucks to sport a tablet.  But it IS coming, and it looks like the offerings from publishers will be substantial enough to declare tablet publishing a reality. Here was my take on the subject of business models and strategy yesterday.

•  In trade publishing, the big news, especially here in the Chicago area, was the return of Stagnito in a major way. Backed by private capital firm Cardinal Growth, Stagnito Media picked up the food group from Nielsen Business Media. The group includes Progressive Grocer, Convenience Store News and The Gourmet Retailer. "Our goal is to introduce a new business model to the food market to take advantage of the trend towards targeted and measurable integrated media,” said Harry Stagnito, President/CEO.  We'll see what this means in the coming months.

In the meantime, Penton Media is officially out of bankruptcy, having cut its debt load. With some magazines experiencing modest increases in ad pages, we'll see if Penton can make it in an industry where many of the major players -- Reed and Nielsen, for instance -- are getting out.

•  Joe Strupp, former Editor & Publisher editor, has found gainful employment with Media Matters and now has his own blog there -- appropriately titled Strupp. Congratulations.  This week he points to a new blog on the Sacramento Bee's web site: Weed Wars, overseen by reporter Peter Hecht who covers the "pot beat".  I visited the blog and report that it does not give the reader the munchies.

•  Finally, rather than do yet another round-up of layoffs in the newspaper and magazine industry, I'll leave it to Roger Ebert of the Sun-Times to review the decision by Variety to layoff two of its veteran critics, film critic Todd McCarthy and chief theater critic David Rooney.  Let's just say that it not a rave. In fact, the only artwork included in the piece is a giant thumb's down.

"What I'm saying is that Todd McCarthy is not a man Variety should have lightly dismissed. He is the longest-serving and best-known member of the paper's staff, and if they made such a drastic decision, we are invited to wonder if Variety itself will long survive," Ebert concludes.