Monday, 6 April 2009

Goodbye Press Gazette

Sad news today as Willmington announced the closure of Press Gazette.
I loved UKPG, as it was, and remember scanning it when the NCE results were published to see my name. Hell, I even remember when it had pages of real jobs in it; that makes me feel very old.

Even though it was experiencing tough times, I thought Press Gazette would struggle through and I'm sad to see it go under as it's been a part of my reporting life.
When I started earning a daily hack's salary (I thought it was a princely sum, too) I became a subscriber. I loved Dog to bits, the letters page was always excellent, and the industry news was relevant to me.

Then Piers Morgan bought it and it seemed to fill up with trivia, London-centric gossip or features with his mates; Press Gazette became something that, when it dropped on the doormat, I had little inclination to read.
Press Gazette staffers Martin Stabe and Patrick Smith had also worked hard and successfully at engaging Press Gazette's readers and when they left for bigger, better things, I just lost interest in it completely.
Alongside that - and I just know I'm going to be dubbed humorless for this - I was really uncomfortable with the whole the Grey Cardigan 'Crystal Tits' joke. There are way too few women holding senior posts in this business and, even though the column was fiction, I found it unpleasant and snide.

My growing disenchantment, the dwindling jobs pages, and a growing tendency to read it online, eventually led to a cancelled subscription. Then it stopped becoming relevant online reading, with Journalism.co.uk proving such an excellent site that Press Gazette couldn't compete, for me, in terms of relevant industry news, comments, blogs, links and entertainment. I'm not even sure I follow its Twitter feed any more - and how apathetic do you have to feel towards a news source to say that?

But, sentiment apart, there's another reason I feel I should mourn the passing of Press Gazette. If we, as an industry, can't drum up the interest to support and sustain an established trade magazine and website, what does it say about the future of newspapers? Press Gazette lost advertising, lost readers, lost staff, lost revenue and, eventually, just lost.
It is a decline and fall that I fear will be mirrored by a number of UK regional newspapers in the coming months.
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