In the newsroom of the first daily newspaper that employed me, Editor & Publisher magazine was forbidden because of the employment classifieds that justified the "editor" part of its title. The editor regarded it as subversive literature, luring his staff to faraway places with the promise of riches, or at least a living wage.
I don't remember what a subscription cost, but it was out of reach. Half the newsroom banded together to pool funds and buy a single subscription -- a hefty investment for those of us who were paid $2, maybe $2.50 an hour, to cover the news of the day in Champaign, Illinois.
We passed around our weekly copy in a brown paper bag like a bottle at the bus station.
After four or five months, the reporter in whose name the magazine was delivered got a job in a bigger city, like maybe Peoria, and the E&P subscription disappeared with him. The rest of us were left behind with the collection of broken chairs and malfunctioning typewriters.
Today the Nielsen Business Media people pulled the plug on Editor & Publisher, announcing that the magazine will be shut down as it sells off other media trade publications that it operates: Adweek, Brandweek, Mediaweek, Billboard and the like.
Editor &Publisher shared too many characteristics with the newspapers whose industry it covered. Historically weak on content and poorly designed, it was reliant on the cash cow of classified advertising. For those of us struggling, underpaid, at the beginnings of our careers, it was a welcome glimpse into a bigger and more promising world. And, also like many newspapers, it eventually passed from the control of a family to being just another brand in a corporate stable.
We could blame the Internet for destroying E&P by making it superfluous.
Or we could blame the Nielsen Company, which trashed its classifieds franchise through mismanagement, entangling the listings with perhaps the worst online classifieds presentation on the Internet and mingling journalism jobs with listings for installers to put Nielsen audience-measurement boxes in the homes of TV-watching families. They drove away the audience and employment listings to startups like JournalismJobs.com and the Poynter Institute's database.
What was left dwindled to a monthly, I think. Despite the good work of people like Mark Fitzgerald and Jennifer Saba, I just quit reading it. The magazine no longer represented a welcome glimpse into a bigger and more promising world. We all are wired now. Distance and scarcity are abolished.
For that, I suppose, you can blame the Internet. I will choose to remember E&P as the magazine of my youth, the one my dad brought home from his newspaper job, the one with ads for exotic jobs in the great hunting and fishing paradise of the Permian oil basin in Texas. On the front: A cowboy advertising the San Francisco Chronicle, because the Chronicle means the West. And in the back: An essay by Robert U. Brown. Shop talk at -30-.