Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Happy New Year?

Posted on | January 8, 2009 | No Comments

So the predictions I promised will have to wait a day or two. Back to business this week, and it’s crazy, eerily so, given what we’re reading and hearing every day.

That said, there’s more than enough gloom to go around, especially if you’re in the B:B trade press. I chatted today with a longtime electronics editor who freelances, and to say it’s tough out there would be an understatement. His big lament is that no one in publishing seems to have a plan. Budgets, which used to be revised quarterly, now don’t really exist. If they do, they’re like a feather fluttering toward earth, pretty to watch, impossible to catch.

In the electronics sector, you can read about layoffs every day on You’d think with everybody fearful of the future and their jobs that advertisers would flock there. Nope. As the New Year dawns, Times is running Google remnant ads in its banner slot and house ads everywhere else. On ED, and EDN, you’d think DigiKey was the last advertiser standing.

It seems like Hearst’s Electronic Products is the only site with multiple advertisers.

This is overstatement, of course. It’s January and January and December are traditionally very slow months, but it’s not fun to look, at given the macroeconomic beat-down we’re taking as a globe. The long-anticipated Forbes layoffs hit yesterday. And then you have to suffer through Eric Schmidt at Google saying “I love newspapers, they’re key to the democracy, but gee I really don’t have any answers.” Um, Eric, you’re part of the problem. How about a real content-sharing agreement with publishers for a start? Get real. Let’s talk when your stock dips below $100 later this year.

And then Michael Hirshorn in The Atlantic predicts the death of New York Times’ print edition by May. Okaaaayyyyyyy.

At least Jack Shafer at Slate gives publishers more props than most for their digital efforts, going back almost 30 years.

It’s not just the veteran reporters who are given the bum’s rush that make this a tragedy. Information is the mother’s milk of innovation. My job in PR is to help companies do a bit of the publishing themselves, but there’s a cultural problem: They’re not wired that way, even the ones who get it.

Now maybe a legion of laid-off reporters and editors subsumed into Corporate America solves this problem. But it won’t be before May.

It’s a real pisser. You can’t bail out publishers, because they’re the Fourth Estate. Maybe we all should have gone to work for Detroit, where not paying attention gets rewarded with bailouts.

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No Responses to “Happy New Year?”

  1. Jack Shafer
    January 9th, 2009 @ 7:07 am

    Jack Shafer at SLATE! Not Salon. Thanks.

    –Jack Shafer

  2. Greeley's Ghost
    January 9th, 2009 @ 10:46 am

    Geez, I’m an idiot. Apologies, Jack! Fixed.

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