Friday, 30 January 2009

Former Press Gazette and Media Week boss: 'Why I don't need them anymore'

Neil Thackray, who was chief executive of Quantum Publishing when it sold Press Gazette and Media Week four years ago, has launched a blog looking at the major issues facing the B2B sector in the age of the internet.
Thackray writes:"The Internet has had two pernicious effects on the future editorial viability of business magazines. First the news, the lifeblood of a weekly mag, is available 24/7 and immediately.
"I haven’t picked up a copy of Media Week or Press Gazette since we sold them four years ago. This hasn’t been deliberate, its just that I don’t need them any longer when I can find the news on the web. I bet your reading habits have changed. And so have all the readers of business magazines habits changed.
"The second effect has been the result of the phenomenon you are reading now. The lone or collaborating blogger. It is almost a cliche that now everyone is a journalist. As journalists get laid off, there will be more and more lone writers."


Tim Burrowes - MuMbrella said...

While it's a bit depressing to hear that your old boss doesn't read your old paper (and you and I are in the same boat there, Jon), Neil's point is a good one.

One of the biggest problems for print mags has always been distribution. In the past we got away with it, because people needed the info they contained and would seek it out.

But for me the real value of print (and I'm talking about B2B in particular) is in offering the kind of longer insight and analysis that suits the medium.

(For instance, I bet Neil's original, long piece would have been much easier to read had it been laid out nicely in a magzine.)

But as print mags have declined, their ability to thrust themselves into punters' hands has gone the same way.

Here's an example. My local newsagent (in Sydney, Australia) appears to have fallen out with The Economist, so there's been no edition in there for three weeks. And despite being a committed reader, I'm yet to find an alternative convenient outlet, so haven't seen it for three weeks.

The same goes for B2B mags, if the reader gets out of the habit (or never gets into it), then it never takes root.

Neil may be right when he says he doesn't need PG and Media Week. But if they are still doing their jobs properly, then if he did become a reader again, I bet he would find value in it.

How about giving him a three month trial, Haymarket?


Tim Burrowes
Editor -
(Editor of Media Week back in the day)

Jon Slattery said...

Dear Tim,
Hope all is going well in Australia. Thanks for your comment.

Good point about distribution.
When I was at Press Gazette we often had complaints from readers that they couldn't get a copy from a newsagent outside London or that the delivery was late.


Jon S.

PS Dominic Ponsford at Press Gazette has offered to send Neil a subs form for PG.

Neil said...

I agree that offline media need to recognise that the old news model is now web based. And that means writing in a different way, What is odd is the resistance of many mag editors to change. Pick up almost any b2b mag and it will have a few pages of news, a bridge with opinion and letters, a couple of proper features, a lazy feature, an ad get feature about a product, whats left of the job ads, a diary page. Just the same as it was five. ten and twenty years ago.

Everything about information consumption has changed but most b2b mags haven't - yet.

I think there is a future for dead tree publishing but it isn't by producing the magazines we used to.