Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Hemorrhaging Continues...More Conferences Canceled

In keeping with our reports on the "AIG Effect", we see two more prominent national annual conferences have thrown in the towel, citing the economy. This one is a twofer, though, as it also ties into another focus of this blog, the fitful death of newspapers/print publications...


Two annual meetings in the publishing industry have been canceled for 2009, both casualties of the economic recession.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors announced that it is canceling its 2009 annual meeting just two months before the convention was to take place, April 26-29 in Chicago. Plans were well under way, but officials decided to cancel it because of low attendance projections and the stress of the economy on members. With the newspaper industry struggling, ASNE leaders concluded that the challenges editors face at their newspapers demand their full attention, said Charlotte Hall, president at ASNE, in a press release. Also, said Hall, attendance would have been significantly lower than normal. The convention typically attracts between 400 and 500 attendees.

This is the first time since 1945 that ASNE has canceled its annual convention.

“This is a uniquely stressful period in our business as we face both structural change and deep recession,” stated Hall. Even though the learning opportunities at the convention would have been valuable, the greatest priority is leading our own newsrooms as we shape the future of the business,” Hall stated.

The board of directors will meet electronically to handle association business that would have otherwise occurred at the meeting. One piece of business is a vote to change the bylaws and drop “paper” from its name to expand its membership to include editors of online-only news Web sites. “We intend to press on with our transformation of ASNE to ensure its relevance in the digital age,” Hall said.

For many of the same reasons, the Magazine Publishers of America canceled its annual convention, the American Magazine Conference. The conference was scheduled for October 18-20 in Boca Raton, Fla.

“The cancellation of this year’s AMC is in response to the difficult economic climate facing all businesses, including the magazine industry,” said Nina Link, president and CEO at MPA in a press release. “We recognize that this year our members are looking at a variety of ways to achieve savings, which would include curtailing certain discretionary travel and hotel expenses.” They hope to resume the AMC next year in Chicago.

The Sauce
This is far, far from over. I hate to use a hackneyed phrase like "perfect storm," but this situation truly is.

Take a look: the events and travel industry is suffering from bad press because of bad actors like AIG. Simultaneously, in an almost perverse twist of fate the print media is being ground under the heel of Internet news.

Is the death knell of print pubs a Thermidorian reaction to the hegemony of corporate media? Or is it mostly the depressed economy coupled with the rise of the Internet as a credible means of delivering news?

Or is it something else? I don't know. But I do think we ain't seen nothing yet.

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