From the Editor
In her book “Basic Black,” Cathie Black (president of Hearst Magazines) relates a number of stories about Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today, where Black was formerly president. She cites him as saying something like, “The press is the only species besides rats that likes to eat its young.” The quote struck me square between the eyes. I’d have to agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Neuharth, and even tack on another phrase to his comment, that the media also eats its old and its middle-aged. For the past few years, it seems that much of the industry—not all, but much—has watched smugly whenever a magazine, especially a big, juicy, monolith, shutters.
I have written several editor’s notes in this publication expressing a feeling to the contrary. I see any publication closing as a blow to the industry. That is not to say that every closing is a reflection of some aspect of the industry’s struggle; on the contrary, many contributed to their own demise. Regardless, they are all magazines—each and every one of them is one of us.
Mr. Neuharth’s comment spelled out succinctly the harshness that lines the walls of the media industry. However, there is also a saying that goes something like this: to unite a group, present them with a common enemy. Today, we have a common enemy: change. In fact, we have several common enemies, if you tack on paper and postage cost increases, and an economy that’s hitting many companies hard.
Don’t get me wrong, I try to be among those who embrace change, and honestly believe that the change we are facing, while no doubt will leave us all weather-worn, is presenting us all with new opportunity. But, change is an enemy in the sense that it is hurtling us (and dragging some of us kicking and screaming) into the unknown. It is creating fear. It is something to be reckoned with, something to be tackled, or even better, ridden like a wild bull. The challenge we all face is figuring out how to do that and not have change, instead, throw us aside in a heap.