Magazine about newspapers launches its very first blogs. Gosh.
The magazine Editor & Publisher has long been the must-read trade rag for anyone in the U.S. newspaper business. Which is another way of saying: Like the industry it covers, Editor & Publisher in print has been fading for years. E&P in print switched from a weekly to monthly in 2004, while its web site became the title’s hub for daily and breaking industry news.
I can’t comment on the quality of E&P – I haven’t read it, consistently, for years, and can’t remember the last time I touched an ink-on-paper edition. I routinely bump into its reporting – but mostly through links from elsewhere. E&P is among the 300+ RSS feeds I track in Netvibes. But my interests and work have drifted to other fields and new horizons for knowledge, action and innovation in the connected culture.
The problem for E&P, of course, is that in an age of choice it’s hard for anyone to “own” a conversation, let alone a market. And in the case of E&P, it didn’t even bother with the conversation. To this day the magazine’s web site doesn’t allow readers to post comments. A variety of web sites and bloggers have emerged to provide reporting, commentary and vibrant forums for reader discussion and socializing around the business and practice of news. This include’s Rafat Ali’s PaidContent on the business of media and The Poynter Institute’s Jim Romenesko on the people in news. PaidContent, aquired by the UK’s Guardian Media Group earlier this year, provides a much richer sweep of global digital media business news and trends. Romenesko produces a voluminous rapid-fire aggregation of gossip, tidbits, rants and musings from across the web on newspaper, magazine and TV journalism. It’s painfully U.S.-centric, so the Editor’s Weblog from the World Editor’s Forum provides a vastly more informative window on global trends and innovations in newspapers (Disclosure: I’m on the WEF board).
Now, at long last, E&P has launched its very first blogs. One, called Fitz & Jen after its authors Mark Fitzgerald and Jennifer Saba, covers the business of newspapers; the other, E&P Pub, seems to be a lighter, more gossipy window into news. It’s supposed to include what journalists would talk about in the pub.
I’d rather go to the pub. Both blogs cater to a dwindling and discredited tribe of U.S. newspaper die-hards who now split their attention among a multitude of data sources and discussions about the news industry’s favorite topic and favorite source of hand-me-down best practices and innovations: itself.
I’m not sure how the E&P Pub is going to out-banter Romenesko. The business blog looks more promising. E&P still distinguishes itself from most blogs by hiring reporters who do real reporting, rather than simple aggregation, linking and analysis. Now they’ve got one too many publishing layers – and one too many publishing systems. They need to scrap the old, static “online magazine” entirely and publish their hearts out via E&P blogs with comments. News is social. Reporting, tips and commentary through conversation add information, insight, passion, purpose and social value to the news experience. Like the industry it covers, E&P is late to the conversational party. But the party is still on.
Andrew Nachison is founder of We Media. He lives in Reston, Virginia.