Greg Mitchell Greg Mitchell, 12/15/2009 [Archive]

It Took 125 Years To Build Editor & Publisher, And Only Minutes To Kill It



It Took 125 Years To Build Editor & Publisher, and Only 10 Minutes To Kill It

By Greg Mitchell

That's what transpired last week, out of the blue. Our handful of staffers heard the news in a small conference room at Nielsen headquarters in New York's East Village, in a building that once housed another institution -- one of the world's first department stores, Wanamaker's.

Kirkus Reviews, which dated back to the 1930s, was given the boot at the same time, even as Nielsen sold eight of our sibling business publications to a new consortium.

We knew some sort of deal was pending, and expected to be part of it, or left behind at a Nielsen happy with its new income from the deal -- and perhaps ready to, finally, spend a little on us, notably to upgrade our when-dinosaurs-walked-the-earth Web site.It was not to be, even though we had never been warned that we were on the brink and didn't seem to be facing any bigger challenges than 90 percent of all magazines these days.

Perhaps they thought that the news of E&P's demise would get lost in the media excitement over the selling of Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek and some other well-known titles. It was not to be.In fact, the opposite occurred, which, I confess, gives me some pleasure.The vast majority of headlines in major newspapers and radio and TV reports went to E&P's demise.Brian Williams even closed the NBC Nightly News with it.

Believe me, we were amused, though heartened, to see 'Editor & Publisher' (with the correct ampersand, no less) hitting #4 on the top Twitter trending topics, and stay in the top ten most of the day.It must have shocked others, as well, as many tweeted, 'WHAT is Editor & Publisher doing in trending topics?'

Best of all, we were swamped with emails from longtime fans who expressed outrage at the sudden closing, offered to send money (or help us go online), praised our work and said this meant doom for the newspaper industry.I wouldn't exactly go along with that final prediction, but it was good to hear so many tell us how much they loved us and what a big role we had played in their lives, some going back decades.

'You helped me get jobs four different times,' one fella wrote about once-legendary classified section.Others hailed our frank (and multiple award-winning) coverage of media failures in the run-up to the Iraq war, and other hot topics.

We heard from famous names and unknowns.We even received words of praise from many we had criticized in the past with our usual "no sacred cows" reporting.Maybe it's just the old cliché of you-don't-know-what-you-got-till-it's-gone.

Somehow we kept that coverage going pretty well, right to the end, despite major staff cutbacks in recent years, most notably Dave Astor, who had served the syndicates world so well for a quarter of a century.

In any case, the outpouring of support -- staggering, really -- has been so overwhelming that not only will we be publishing our January 2010 edition, there's at least a decent chance that someone will step forward and help us continue. If not, staff members may join together in some kind of (unpaid) online effort.Stay tuned. And thanks for the memories.

Greg Mitchell has been editor of E&P since 2002.He has written 10 non-fiction books, most recently "Why Obama Won" and, on Iraq and the media, "So Wrong for So Long." His book "The Campaign of the Century" won the Goldsmith Book Prize.While at E&P he has won 10 Neal Awards, the top prize in the business press. Greg can be reached at epic1934@aol.com.

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