Talk is not cheap

Sobering: The World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum just canceled their annual convention, which had been scheduled to take place in India in only two months. Stephen Brook at the Guardian reports:

“The economic crisis has had a devastating effect on participation in the events, which are simply not viable at this stage,” Bertrand Pecquerie, World Editors Forum director said in an email seen by MediaGuardian.co.uk.

It’s an indication of how dire the financial straits are for newspapers — no matter how WAN itself keeps pronouncing paper wonderful. It’s an indication, too, I think of the falling value of trade associations, which I wrote about here. And I’m afraid it may be an indication of the I’d-put-my-head-in-the-sand-if-it-were-still-on-my-head running around of the industry. That is, coming together to learn best practices and get new ideas is more important than ever but papers are saying that can’t afford it.

By the way, the theme of this year’s editors’ meeting: Doing more with less.

: LATER: Brook sought official comment from the WEF and Bertrand Pecquerie was nice enough to CC me because of my tweet on the topic. He says:

Postponing two conferences – the Publishers Congress and the Editors Forum – is not the end of the world and Jeff cannot take his desires and opinions about the state of the industry for reality.

It is just a management decision based on facts. A newspaper association is at the end of the chain of the newspaper industry: when managers and editors cut costs and ask not to travel, evidently conferences and seminars are the first to be threatened.

So WAN and WEF decided to postpone to November the Hyderabad conferences and they will be held. Remember that the headline of our 2009 Editors Forum is “Doing More with Less”, doing more content with less resources. It applied for March, as it will apply for November 2009.

The Editors Forum conference is just one of our activity and it is postponed, as so many projects in so many industries and in so many countries.

  • Kimberly

    I’m not convinced this is something they couldn’t have avoided. There have been thousands of opportunities to adapt over the last 5-10 years. If they haven’t adapted enough to stay afloat, they’ve allowed themselves to become obsolete. Unfortunately, it may be too late for many of them to reevaluate their role in local media and recover.

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  • http://www.claudepate.com Karl

    “Postponing two conferences – the Publishers Congress and the Editors Forum – is not the end of the world and Jeff cannot take his desires and opinions about the state of the industry for reality.”

    Oddly enough, I though Jeff’s opinions stemmed more from the bankruptcy of the Tribune Corp. and the Mpls. Strib, the near bankruptcy of the NYT, the unwinding of the Seattle P-I, the inexorable decline in print circulation almost everywhere, etc., etc. Maybe none of that is based on reality either.

    “when managers and editors cut costs and ask not to travel, evidently conferences and seminars are the first to be threatened.”

    I think there are any number of former newspaper employees who would beg to differ, but why are costs being cut if Jeff is hoaxing the public about the state of print?

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  • http://www.editorsweblog.org bertrand pecquerie

    Thanks for adding my comments, Jeff.

    I will keep you informed when new dates will be fixed for the 2009 Newspaper Congress and the Editors Forum.

    Bertrand Pecquerie
    World Editors Forum
    http://www.worldeditorsforum.org

  • http://sellingprint.blogspot.com Michael Josefowicz

    So it would be cool if they put together a networked video conference.hint: i think lots of FedEx stores and schools have great video conference rooms. Then they could do a wiki for the discussions. Then they could do twitter for the cocktail party aspect. Then linkedin to network for jobs. Then email for open conversations. Then Skype for private conversations.

    Probably a lot cheaper and more productive. Start the discussion about three weeks before the conference. Then all get online for a day or two to move the discussion further and ask questions.

    Oops! But then…what exactly is the Trade Association getting paid for? Oh yes, they are the trusted brand and that is some value. Just a lot less than they were back in the day.

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