When it was announced earlier this month that Editor & Publisher would be closing after over a century of publishing, it was the crappy cherry atop an awful year for news organizations shuttering titles, going bankrupt or closing completely. As we go towards 2010 with one foot still in 2009, it’s always fun to take a good, hard look back at what happened and ask ourselves, “Whose fault is this?”
At least that’s what Steve Outing is doing. In his final column for E&P, Outing writes that 15 years ago he would never imagined that “the newspaper industry would fail to benefit from the Internet, and bequeath opportunities to eager entrepreneurs who did capitalize, big time, at the expense of newspapers.”
Wait, what? What entrepreneurs are we talking about here, exactly? Media moguls like Nick Denton and Rupert Murdoch (the latter of the two still trying to figure out how to capitalize his newspaper holdings digitally)? Outing imagines a recreation of newspaper’s inglorious history, one in which (among other things) publishers don’t try to buy out the competition in the early aughts, but instead focus on expanding their digital space despite the Internet bubble bursting.
By the time we hit where we are now, Outing suggests, “the late-2000s recession is ridden out by newspaper companies because they have diversified and grabbed the digital opportunities as they arose early on. There’s still room to invest and focus on the next big media opportunity: mobile content and services.”
So the issue here isn’t that news orgs were greedy in a dramatically ironic Citizen Kane sort of way, but that they weren’t greedy in the right medium? That again leads us back to the question of what eager entrepreneurs Outing is talking about, and if they aren’t, in fact, the idealization of what he imagined to be the perfect publisher?
Read More: Goodbye, for Now: Looking Forward —Editor & Publisher