Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Whither the trade press?

Steve Gillmor

Saturday night we had dinner with an old friend from the trade press. He's resisted the siren call of the blogosphere longer than most, and pretends to cast doubt on its significance with the best of them. Oddly, he paid more attention to the podosphere when it emerged late last year; I took that as tacit acknowledgment of both spheres.

Over cabbage soup at Max's Opera, we dissected the continuing slide of the trade space. Print books, notoriously slim in the summer months, are even slimmer this time around. I noted Matt McAlister's bolt from Infoworld to Yahoo!, a 48-page issue from Information Week (typically the last to drop folio below the baseline ratio of ads to editorial), and the appalling lack of bodies in a JavaOne press conference as significant data points.

This may seem like so much inside baseball to most of you, but this has been building for a long time. What's new is the insistent voice of the blogosphere beginning to dominate the conversation between vendors and customers. It's more of a zero sum game than many are willing to accept. Analysts are consolidating (read: contracting) and tech news has been commoditized to something approaching loss leader. Folks like Stephen Shankland and Ephraim Schwartz are increasingly providing analysis in their beat areas, and of course the Redmonk boys are open-sourcing their methodology if not their recommendations.

The trade press is an essential part of the industry dialog. Someone has to provide the narrative account, someone has to do product reviews, someone has to do analysis. Bloggers are amateurs and cannot provide anything like the consistency necessary for quality reporting.

Elizabeth Albrycht comments.

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