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Editor & Publisher Gets a Lifeline from Boating Publisher — But It's Going to Be Tough to Stay Afloat

Editor & Publisher was almost the latest casualty in the great magazine massacre of 2009. They ceased operations on December 31st, only to be snapped up by Duncan McIntosh. The California-based boating periodicals publisher saved them from obscurity in the annals of trade magazines last week. Even with an infusion of funds, though, can E&P steer a course through the industry's stormy seas? Don't hold your breath.

At 126 years of age, E&P -- which in both its online and print editions covers the American newspaper industry -- gets points for sticking around longer than many of the papers they've covered. And for being an authority during a time where the very foundations of the newspaper business are rocking. But is there a need for such coverage?

New owner Duncan McIntosh contends, "Such a critical information source for a newspaper industry so desperately in need of help should not go away." (But remember, he's the one who signed the check to buy them.)

Others disagree.

E&P's parent company, Nielsen Business Media, was quick to put the publication on the chopping block along with Kirkus Reviews. At the same time, Nielsen sold a slew of other pubs including Adweek and Billboard to a new company, e5 Global Media. John Temple, the former editor and publisher of the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News, predicted the demise of Editor & Publisher back in 2006, claiming it had become irrelevant because of left-leaning coverage. In a more recent requiem, Temple cited aggregators providing up-to-the-minute industry coverage such as Jim Romenesko at The Poynter Institute as the new go-to source for journalists. Mark Fitzgerald offered up an elegant rebuttal -- but then again, he is E&P's editor at large.

What Fitzgerald doesn't address is exactly where E&P fits in the rapidly expanding landscape of industry news. Even as the 26-year E&P veteran steps into the editor's role, his former E&P colleagues Greg Mitchell and Joe Strupp are hard at work on a new blog, E&P In Exile, that is playing aggregator with the big guys. And over at Newsosaur, Alan Mutter is offering sage commentary on the state of the industry every step of the way.

It's not even clear that E&P is all that timely anymore. When I scanned E&P's top stories yesterday, I found that "Fake AP Stylebook Scored a Book Deal." Heck, I covered that one back in November.

Perhaps Fitzgerald's experience in diversity coverage will be one of the publication's new niches. But whatever direction they choose, they need to figure it out fast, or we'll be saying farewell for real.