Ode to a Trade Pub that Gave Me Many Sleepless Nights

The news that IT trade pub InfoWorld is ending its nearly 30-year-old print publication (while continuing its online and events properties) is not a wet blanket over the entire print publishing world. It’s more of a long-overdue nod to the bloated state of the tech publishing industry. When dozens of IT publications – three within IDG alone targeting senior IT execs – are competing for ad dollars in an industry that has gone through massive vendor consolidation (meaning the ad pie is shrinking), you have a problem even before what’s left of your print revenues start flying over to the Web.

I haven’t read the print version of InfoWorld for years, but I have fond memories of the publication from my days at PC Week – InfoWorld’s bitter rival during the ’80s and ’90s, aka the tech journalism boom times. We competed fiercely for every piece of breaking news. Outside my office in the newsroom of PC Week (now eWeek), we kept a “Scoop Scoreboard” to track our wins vs. the competition. Our receptionist, the legendary Betty Edwards, would call me every Tuesday morning to let me know when the stack of InfoWorlds had arrived, and reporters held their breath as they scanned the front page to see if they’d been scooped (and would soon be answering questions from cranky editors as to why).

Both publications would both send massive news teams to Comdex – I once had an $11,000 bill from the Vegas hotel where we housed our newsroom – and, after we launched our respective Web sites (PC Week’s crude 1994 implementation, built by our lab rats, was one of the first news websites) our goal at PC Week was twofold: to post every bit of breaking news from the show ahead of InfoWorld, and to beat them with exclusives from the event in the following week’s print mag. 

Jim Forbes, a former colleague of mine who worked for both publications, has a great look back at InfoWorld‘s storied run. I will never have as much fun as I did in the PC Week newsroom during the late ’80s and early ’90s. It’s too bad that the leaders of great publications like PC Week and InfoWorld let new competition (CNet), new media (the Web) and a paryalyzing unwillingness to embrace new publishing models pull the rug out from underneath them. The writing was on the wall for print rags like InfoWorld long ago; look for others to follow.


3 thoughts on “Ode to a Trade Pub that Gave Me Many Sleepless Nights”

  1. I too remember th PCWeek newsroom with a lot of fondness, including my late Thursday night calls to you or Stacy to see how many storied I had on Page one–I think in my time there I had five all “by Jim Forbes” Page One issues.
    but some of the other things I remember still make me laugh
    –dcc’s “wall of pitch letters with his last name misspelled.
    –dcc’s snotty window view
    — phone calls to a certain female staffer’s phone on deadline when she was over talking to you on the coy desk and then enjoying watching her run back to her cube, while two fun loving pranksters would prarie dog out of their cubes to enjoy the show.
    –Beth’s framed xerox of the check for the cad convertible she totalled in front of LAX on a trip to Ashton Tate.
    –the image of Ernie sleeping at night with the lights on and a loaded gun nuder his pillow. The stress really did get to him.
    –me getting grilled by a young news editor on how I could possibly get a story that he couldn’t and my droll reply ” at this level of the game we play all the innings….”
    –calling IBM PSD’s VP at home after he went to bed to get an on record confirmation of th eforthcoming P2 launch and most of the line up.
    –Pizza night on Boylston and the great drug use detection revelation inspired by observing who was hungry and who didn’t eat the pizza.
    –My role in the $11,000 room charge bill in the Hilton Comdex newsroom. I bet yiou never found the live lobsters I ordered from room service and freed under the bed.
    But most of all I remember the good times, hard work, patience and skill of the copy desk which made me loko far better than I was and which also played the most important role in turning out a top-ranked industry standard weekly.
    thanks for the plug, now move down here to San Diego, Rob.


    PS, I also remember flying the red eye out from SFO to Logan everyother Friday night for news meetings, the gettnig home late the next Friday night after a 24-hour turnaround.

  2. Incidentally, IW is the second pub this week (Child is the other) to kill the print edition for Web only. can’t argue with the economics of distribution…and where all the ad dollars are flowing.

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