By Steve Outing
(Disclaimer: I worked as a contract or freelance columnist for Editor & Publisher Online from 1995 till this week, covering for the site and sometimes E&P magazine the intersection of newspapers and the digital revolution. I do not have inside information about why Nielsen Co. shuttered E&P, and the words below are strictly my opinion.)
The demise of Editor & Publisher (the now-monthly magazine and companion website) can be quickly understood from the following three links:
- John Temple: Rest in peace, E&P: Killed by an aggregator
“It’s easy to underestimate the power of aggregation. But the truth, in my view, is that Romenesko replaced Editor & Publisher long ago as the place where journalists turned to find out what was going on in their world. It’s not limited by one medium or industry. It’s timely. And it’s deep. The magazine couldn’t compete. And it’s not just Romenesko. There are many sites and blogs to turn to today to learn what’s going on in journalism. Which is why E&P couldn’t survive as a viable business.”
The former editor and publisher of the defunct Rocky Mountain News hits the nail on the head. E&P still operated like a traditional trade-magazine publisher, just using a different medium (the web) for daily coverage and cutting back on print (from weekly down to monthly in its later years). To this day, it was weak on user participation and aggregation from other sources, even though its traditional news coverage was strong and well respected. E&P probably should have hired Jim Romenesko years ago rather than let the Poynter Institute lure him.
- Steven Berlin Johnson: “Old Growth Media and the Future of News“
This is a transcript of a speech presented in early 2009. It’s long, but it is the best description I know of about why traditional trade publishers are doomed unless they properly adapt to the new digital media environment. Johnson uses the example of the old Macintosh magazines, pre-web, and how they were marginalized by the growth of Mac insider websites, e-newsletters, and blogs over the years.
What started out in technology journalism, Johnson explains, eventually will spread to many other sectors of news. It already has in some areas such as sports and politics. For industry news, the same dynamic will strike in niche after niche. Johnson’s message also points to the importance in the business press of aggregation and curation.
- A tweet by Vin Crosbie yesterday
“Root of E&P mag’s death was Steve Outing’s start of Online-News listserv in ’93, creating ability to report industry news faster than print.”
News media consultant and now university educator Crosbie is referring to an e-mail discussion list that I started either at the end of 1993 or early in 1994. Online-News and its companion discussion list Online-Newspapers grew to be significant and lively gathering places of news professionals and innovators looking to leverage the Internet to bring news into the online age. The information shared by a large group of passionate and knowledgeable news innovators was often the kind of stuff not found in traditional media trade publications.
Crosbie is perhaps stretching things to directly link E&P’s demise in 2009 to the start of an industry listserv in 1994, but his point is valid.