Yesterday's announcement that InfoWorld is discontinuing its print edition is one that leaves me with decidedly mixed feelings. On the one hand, as someone who has been writing and/or editing for InfoWorld for over twenty years, it's pretty devastating to think that soon nothing with the InfoWorld banner will be arriving in my mailbox every week. On the other hand, as someone who moved to the weblog side years ago, I'm not directly affected and I fully believe it's the right thing for InfoWorld to do. But I think it raises a question for readers, and not just readers of InfoWorld, as to how long the content they value is going to be in print.
I will admit that it's only with effort that I'm resisting the temptation to wax nostalgic about my experiences at InfoWorld and the many outstanding journalists, insightful technologists, and even one or two brilliant business people I've know there. And I reserve the right to do that some other time, but not right now. After all, perhaps InfoWorld's best days are yet ahead of it.
Anyone who has been getting InfoWorld in their mailbox for a while no doubt is not any more surprised than I am that they finally decided it no longer made sense to have a print edition. Given how thin it's been, maybe the only surprise is that it took this long. The action for InfoWorld has been online for some time, and they've decided that's where their business is. And that's decision you can expect many other publications that you read to make in the coming years. And not just computer trade mags, but everything from your local newspaper to scientific journals.
I will share one reminiscence with you, but it's not a warm and fuzzy one. Back in the early '90s, I was the Editor of InfoWorld, so I was the one in charge of the editorial budget, including the Test Center. As part of that, I had a pretty good idea of what our competitors in the IT weekly space were spending. I'm far removed from that now, and I have no inside intelligence on InfoWorld or any of its competitors (or former competitors, since we certainly can't call InfoWorld a weekly anymore). Still, I am relatively certain that the combined editorial budgets of all them today, adjusted for the brief weirdness of the dotcom boom, would only be in the same ballpark of one of the individual publication's budgets back then. And the reason I can be sure of that is you only have to glance at an issue or two of any of them to know they are living with a fraction of the advertising revenue they used to enjoy, and with a fraction of the editorial staff on their masthead.