It may soon be time for a whole generation of tech-inclined journalists to find better things to do with their time.
Tomorrow's the deadline for creditors to accept Ziff Davis' restructuring plan, and the word is that salespeople are preparing advertisers for the possibility of bankruptcy under Chapter 11. The filing, according to reports and Ziff press releases, is a “prepackaged” one–the reorganization plan that Ziff has been shopping around would be filed, with the approval of the majority of bondholders and debtors.
But there's a certain amount of uncertainty, still. You can dress up a pig in bows and makeup, and call it “prepackaged”, but it's still a pig.
Regardless of how you look at it, the reorg of Ziff, which has changed hands twice in the last decade and became a tech publishing giant after a long history of publishing more traditional trades and special interest publications, is representative of the death of technology publishing as a growth category. Our future , it seems, is gaming and skateboards.
I figured this out three years ago, when I saw the writing on the wall at InformationWeek. Business IT product reviews were going the way of the dodo, along with the rest of the deep technical content there; the time had come to say goodbye to all of CMP (M-I-C-H-A-E-L L-E-E-D-S).
Since I've been at Ziff (one year, as of Wednesday), the company has cut half its staff. Six Ziff magazines have been consigned to the dustbin of history. As the sole breadwinner supporting a family of five, you can imagine that I've watched this play out with more than a little interest and concern.
I started in the tech publishing business 12 years ago, as I left the Navy and was looking to break into the publishing business. I've ridden this bull loger than some; there are a couple thousand fewer people employed full-time in tech publishing today than there were three years ago. But I think the last big ride has come and gone; I've got no choice but to ride whatever comes along next. Right now, that ride is Baseline; I've just got to hope it doesn't throw me before the bell.