Denying Readers the 'Enhancements' of Annual Publication?

If publishing less frequently enhances a publication, why not go all the way? Editor & Publisher magazine has almost done that by announcing that it will ‘enhance’ coverage by switching from weekly to monthly publication, beginning in January.

As much as we enjoy being buffetted by a good PR spin, E&P‘s announcement is fatuous and it underscores the magazine’s decline under ownership by VNU Media. The magazine’s print circulation and advertising pagecounts have plummeted since VNU purchase E&P a few years ago. VNU might will try to hide behind the excuse of the worst media advertising recession in a half century. But what debunks is a comparison of E&P and its partial competitor, Newspapers & Technology. Click the hyperlink below for our analysis:

Digital Deliverance Executive Vice President James Tailer notes that during the years in which E&P‘s printed edition has shrank, Newspaper & Technology‘s printed edition has grown. Years ago, the bulk of E&P‘s ad revenues came from equipment vendors. But they have almost all migrated to Newspapers & Technology, leaving E&P with mostly corporate promotional ads (such as ads from the Associated Press, Knight Ridder, or Gannett).

Tailer points to two causes for this migration:

  • First and foremost, E&P‘s advertising rates continue to be way too high. A quarter-page ad in its weekly printed edition cost more than USD3,000, too much for many vendors to advertise in it or do so regularly. Meanwhile, Newspaper & Technology‘s ad rates were more reasonable, often half E&P‘s rates on a regular schedule. This makes a major difference for vendors, particularly during a recession.
  • During the past decade, E&P has failed to serve two of its most important readerships:. One of those readerships obviously is newspaper technology executives, most of whom migrated to Newspaper & Technology. The other lost readership was the publishers themselves. Although E&P does publish articles about publishers, it doesn’t publish enough articles about the everyday decisions that publishers make — such as decisions about printing presses, pre-press equipment, circulation issues, etc. E&P had focused too much upon catering its articles to publishers’ boardroom issues and not publishers’ office issues.

    Likewise, E&P let itself become editorially stuck somewhere between the journalism reviews (such as Columbia Journalism Review and American Journalism Review) and technology journals (such as Newspaper & Technology). Those publications cover their niches far better than E&P does, leaving E&P without a viable niche of its own. That edotproa; error began under the Brown/Phillips family’s ownership of E&P prior to VNU’s involvment, but VNU should have seen and understood this and the advertising pricing error and had plenty of time to correct those problems. We think VNU Media’s administration is to blame.

    So, what about E&P‘s plan to use its Web site to:

      “…provide readers with over 50% more news coverage and analysis of the newspaper industry, according to Editor Greg Mitchell. “‘This shift will enable us to keep pace with the changes in the news industry which, thanks to the Internet, wants information now, not next week,’ said Michael E. Parker, president of the Marketing/Media & Arts Group of E&P parent VNU. “‘E&P, essentially, will be changing to an hourly frequency while maintaining its award-winning print presence.'”

    E&P’s own articles have failed to report any trade journals that are profitably publishing online, except for perhaps Variety, a publication that dominates coverage of its own industry in a way that E&P no longer dominate coverage of the newspaepr industry (perhaps not so ironically, VNU Media owns Variety‘s archrival, The Hollywood Reporter).

    As for increasing the E&P site’s news coverage by 50%, we note that hiring just another online reporter for that site would increase the site’s staff by 100%, so a 50% increase in news coverage should be hard for it to achieve.

    Its switch from weekly to monthly publication also will definitely hurt E&P‘s classified advertising revenues.

    It’s too bad that VNU Media has mismanaged this venerable trade journal of the newspaper industry. We wish them well on their Web site plans.

  • One Reply to “Denying Readers the 'Enhancements' of Annual Publication?”

    1. E&P goes — weakly

      Vin Crosbie (who knows more about this than I do) says that the Web didn’t kill Editor & Publisher as a weekly. He blames by poor management by VNU. I confess, I haven’t read E&P since 1996. So, I was…

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