Friday, December 18, 2009

The end of E & P

Unless an angel with deep pocket intervenes, Editor & Publisher is going out of business.

That's not particularly important news to most of you, but for those of us in the newspaper business, it's yet another depressing brick on a sagging load.

E&P, as it's commonly called by journalists, has been for over a century the unofficial bible of the newspaper world. It's a trade publication by, about and for the Fourth Estate.

In recent years, you could tell it's demise was just over the next horizon.

First, several years ago, its print edition shifted from weekly to monthly. Its on-line presence grew. But as with the industry it covers, E&P was largely disappearing before our very eyes. And therein lies the Catch 22.

In the glory days of newspapering, everybody wanted to be the first to read E&P when copies arrived in the office. There were the industry stories, of course. But the main attraction was the Classified section, where newspapermen and women from all departments would turn to view the many job openings up for grabs. (Saying you read E&P for the stories, not the Classifieds, was like saying you read Playboy for the stories, not the pictures.)

As the industry shrunk, so did the Classified section, and so did the necessity of reading E&P (particularly with the popular on-line site Romanesko feeding constant news updates about the industry). And as the Classified section dwindled, so did E&P's revenue stream - just like what's occurred in the industry E&P covers.

E&P last week became victim of cuts by Nielsen, its parent company. Word is, the staff will be allowed to print the January edition, then that's it. But E&P staff, heartened by words of support from within the industry when word of its closing was announced, is hopeful those words will translate into financial backing.

We'll see. If not, the end of E&P will rank as a symbolic an event as any for the state of the newspaper industry.
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