Monday, October 5, 2009

The journalism world as we now (not) know it.

Just spent three days in San Francisco at the Online News Association Conference, listening to lots of new media types talking about technology, entrepreneurship and journalism. Interesting, often exciting developments in the new world of journalism.

But you don't need a three-day conference to see how much is changing, and how quickly.
I learned that just walking around: After my first day workshop, I walked
to the Ferry Building to find something good to eat, a tip found on, a foodie recommendation website, and honed in on the Hog Island Oyster Company, which had received an abundance of five star ratings, and featured a cheap oyster happy hour from 4 to 7.

Scored a seat at the bar, and struck up conversation with a young couple: he was an electrician, she worked in a dental office. They both loved to eat, and went out frequently in the Bay area, and then posted about it on Yelp. This was their hobby and passion. In fact, she was an Elite user, had posted several hundred reviews. And in fact, it might have been her recommendation that got me sitting next to her from my tiny town of 350 people what, 2,700 miles away.

Fast-forward to this morning, when I open the website to find that one of my FAVORITE food magazines, Gourmet, launched in 1940, and edited by Ruth Reichl, the Anna Wintour of food, is about to stop publishing.

Coincidence? Maybe not. Will the website live on? Who knows. This development is an unbelievable shock. Gourmet is a venerable brand, with a top editor, a very loyal following and nearly a million circulation.


Moral of the story: the world you thought you were entering as a journalism major is shifting beneath your feet. What are you going to do about it?


scH2O said...

But Saveur has increased readership.
So there's some room for food magazines in the post web world. Just not as much room.

S.P. Sullivan said...

I never wanted to write for Gourmet anyway.

I'm starting to like the slimming down of the journalism job market. Only room for true believers these days.

Ask me if I agree with the above statement in May.

BJ Roche said...

As this news has percolated among readers and journalists, I've realized Gourmet is a generational pleasure. We old birds learned to cook with it, developed our dinner party skills, and stayed with it over the years because we also loved Ruth Reichl. (Who, btw, I just read, was making a million a year at Conde Nast.)

I wonder if many writers in your generation will have the chance to develop such traction in your careers. Even though there are more "markets," it's much, much harder to gather and maintain an audience these days. Everybody's writin', nobody's readin'!