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

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.