Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sign of the times....

The Boston Globe ran a report this morning about one of the technology industries major publishing houses ceasing the printing of the print version of PC Magazine. We've all heard and read about declining subscriptions, circulations and advertising dollars, but this news really hit home.

When I began my career in technology PR, PC Magazine was considered a top-tier industry trade publication. To get an interview or meeting for your client, you literally had to pray, beg, borrow or steal since every company dreamed of having their product or service written up in the pages of the PC Magazine bible. While the content and incredibly savvy writing will simply move from print to online, this news really does speak to shift in multiple industries--including PR.

PR pros, now more than ever, need to familiarize themselves with online editorial (and the lack of journalistic 'rules', social media, citizen journalism and the blogosphere. Getting your client on the front page of the Wall Street Journal is lovely--but only if someone reads it. Nowadays, getting your client launched via, or the like, is a valuable accomplishment.

Delivery of news has also changed how we absorb information. Alerts to your phone, Blackberry or Treo or your RSS feeds seem more the norm than a read-through of the daily paper. Local newspapers have returned to their roots--focusing on just that--local news. A major shift is now afoot in media publishing, new media, and the value of a print-based outlet. Keep your eyes open since there is definitely more 'shake out' to come.

(From the Boston Globe;
PC Magazine will switch to online-only operation
Ad revenue is falling fast, publisher says

By Stephanie Clifford
New York Times News Service / November 20, 2008

Ziff Davis Media said yesterday that it was ending print publication of its 27-year-old flagship PC Magazine and would make the title online-only. It is the latest of several magazine publishers to drop a print edition as advertising revenue plummets and the cost of printing a paper version rises.

"The viability for us to continue to publish in print just isn't there anymore," Jason Young, chief executive of Ziff Davis, said.

However, while most magazines make most of their money from print advertising, PC Magazine derives most of its profits from its website. More than 80 percent of the profit and about 70 percent of the revenue come from the digital business, Young said, and all of the writers and editors have been counted as part of the digital budget for two years.

The change will not require much of an adjustment, because the focus has been on getting stories to the Web first, said Lance Ulanoff, editor of the PCMag Digital Network, which is what and its accompanying websites were renamed yesterday. "All content goes online first, and print has been cherry-picking for some time what it wants for the print edition," he said.

Circulation at PC Magazine had been declining since the late 1990s, when it hit a peak of 1.2 million. This year, the magazine's rate base was 600,000.Young said that while the print magazine would be profitable in 2008, he had forecast that it would lose money in 2009. The final print edition will be the January issue.

Seven production, circulation, and advertising employees will be cut as a result of the move, out of a total of about 140 who work on PC Magazine and Young said the company was considering making its other print magazine, the video-game publication Electronic Gaming Monthly, into an online-only format, but would not decide before the end of the year.
Other publishers have also moved publications online-only.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recently announced it would go online-only beginning in January. "We're trying to deal with the cost pressures," said Jonas Siegel, the Bulletin's editor.
The Boston-based Christian Science Monitor said in October that it would cease printing its paper weekday edition and appear online only; also in October, Hearst Corp. closed CosmoGirl but kept its website.