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 itâ€™s crazy, eerily so, given what weâ€™re reading and hearing every day.
That said, thereâ€™s more than enough gloom to go around, especially if youâ€™re in the B:B trade press. I chatted today with a longtime electronics editor who freelances, and to say itâ€™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 donâ€™t really exist. If they do, theyâ€™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 EETimes.com. Youâ€™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, youâ€™d think DigiKey was the last advertiser standing.
It seems like Hearstâ€™s Electronic Products is the only site with multiple advertisers.
This is overstatement, of course. Itâ€™s January and January and December are traditionally very slow months, but itâ€™s not fun to look, at given the macroeconomic beat-down weâ€™re taking as a globe. The long-anticipated Forbes layoffs hit yesterday. And then you have to suffer through Eric Schmidt at Google saying â€œI love newspapers, theyâ€™re key to the democracy, but gee I really donâ€™t have any answers.â€ Um, Eric, youâ€™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 Timesâ€™ 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.
Itâ€™s not just the veteran reporters who are given the bumâ€™s rush that make this a tragedy. Information is the motherâ€™s milk of innovation. My job in PR is to help companies do a bit of the publishing themselves, but thereâ€™s a cultural problem: Theyâ€™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 wonâ€™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.