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R.I.P. E&P

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epAdd another surprise that’s not a surprise to the long list of publications that died in 2009: Editor & Publisher, the No. 1 title serving the newspaper industry itself, is folding at year-end.

E&P was such an institution – it’s been around since 1901, but existed under a different title since 1884 – that it’s hard to imagine a media world in which it doesn’t exist. That’s why it’s closing is so surprising.

On the other hand, The Nielson Co. had been trying to sell its media publications group, including E&P, Adweek, Brandweek, Mediaweek, Backstage, Billboard, Film Journal International and The Hollywood Reporter. Most of the group was just sold; E&P was not included in the deal.

I don’t know anything about E&P’s finances, but you don’t need an MBA to understand what that means.

Trade books that cover the media industry are chronically short on advertisers. They all live a subsistence existence. E&P’s folio has been razor thin since I first saw it in the early ’80s.

If E&P ever made good money (high margins), it never made big money. And in times of recession, small-money magazines do worst in the effort to maintain their margins.

I’m sure E&P is in the red, and that any forecast in which it could become proftable again doesn’t deliver enough earnings to justify the turnaround project.

And with the dire condition of many newspapers, E&P’s expiration is a symbolic event that was probably inevitable.

In that context, that E&P should die broke and alone isn’t a surprise at all.

I’m sorry to see it go, and feel for everyone on the staff. It was a great institution right up until the end.

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About the Author:

Bob Rosenbaum is founder and principal of The MarketFarm, a content-oriented strategic communications firm.

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