When the trade magazine for an industry closes, it’s a sure sign that things aren’t looking good for said industry. When the trade magazine for an industry that includes magazines closes… well, you tell me what that means. Nothing good, that’s for sure.
The Press Gazette has been bumping along, barely getting by, for a while now so while today’s announcement is somewhat of a shock it can’t be said to be a surprise.
The publication will be mourned by those in the media and rightly so. Not too long ago it was still essential reading. Even when it switched from a weekly to a monthly and got by on reduced staff it was still worth reading, if only as a place where you could get a reasonably comprehensive roundup of national, local and regional and it still provided food for thought.
But the writing has been on the wall for a while, as illustrated nicely by Dave Lee’s anecdotal post. It was still important reading but not vital reading. It was useful but the website wasn’t a daily must-read.
If anything its demise acts as a pretty good barometer and illustration of the industry itself. It was struggling with declining revenues, cutting costs, struggling with whether it was a print or online publication and, most importantly of all, struggling to stay relevant in an online world. It was just about managing this, but having mediaguardian.co.uk as a competitor didn’t help.
More worrying is what this means – and says – about the media itself. We’ve already seen other big name publications, most notably Maxim, disappear from our shelves.
And while we’re not quite at the levels of the US where several big names have gone, local press is seriously struggling to keep going here. Plenty of people I’ve trained with, worked with or have got to know have been made redundant or have been asked to work shorter hours. The prognosis is not good.
Roy Greenslade asks if anybody will be willing to save the Press Gazette. But we’ve been here before and the publication has just lurched from one owner to another, struggling to stay alive all the time.
And this is, let’s not forget, a media industry that, for whatever reason, cannot make a magazine about media aimed squarely at them work .
The industry will be much the poorer without the Press Gazette, especially as it seems their online offering won’t actually offer any proper journalism after the start of May (which kind of defeats the point in keeping it going). Hopefully somebody will give it the proper send off, the celebration of its life that it deserves.
It’s going to be a long hard year for the media, sadly. I still maintain that the cycle will come back round at some point (whenever that may be) and the industry will pick up.
But quite what the industry will look like at that stage is anybody’s guess. That the business model has to change is beyond doubt, but if anybody had a clue on how best to change it, it would have happened long before now.
 Although this is a slightly simplistic way of looking at it and the various owners can be said to play at part in this.