Press Gazette Shuts Mag, Mothballs Website; Editorial Staff Laid Off


imageUPDATE Having spoken to people familiar with the situation, I understand that the company plans to lay off all three editorial staff as part of the magazine’s closure. Les Kelly, MD of Wilmington Business Information, spoke to staff this morning and he told me the staff would compete a formal consultation period — he wouldn’t confirm there would be redundancies, saying only that there “could be”. He confirmed that the company had not found a way to sufficiently monetise PG’s journalism in either print or web.

Original: Journalism trade magazine Press Gazette will shut its print edition after 43 years, publisher Wilmington Business Information announced in a brief statement on today. It says: “Unfortunately Press Gazette, along with much of the profession, has suffered from a declining market during these years and its losses have increased. We have therefore been forced to conclude that the market required to sustain a commercially viable Press Gazette magazine no longer exists.”

While Wilimington says “we aim to develop this site as a resource for the UK journalism community and we plan to roll out additional functionality in the coming months”, with that vague statement, it’s by no means certain that PG is going “online-only”. Indeed, Wilmington’s media and entertainment MD Les Kelly tells “There will be no journalism on the site (after this weekend). There will not be news coverage but we will develop the site to offer other services, such as training and freelance referrals.”

It’s a sad day for staff – but not an entirely unexpected one. I worked at PG for two years and was told on several occasions that the magazine was loss-making, that cuts would have to made if it were to survive. Going online-only had been seriously discussed when Wilmington carried out a strategic review of the title last year. Instead, the magazine went monthly last autumn, took the magazine off newsstands and upped the subscription to £115. The result is today’s news. The site had, in the last six months, improved the frequency and quality of its online news and had a growing and loyal audience.

Wilmington wants to hang on to the British Press Awards – but that might prove difficult without the accompanying Press Gazette brand. The publisher also owns the PR directory Hollis and company bosses have longed wanted to somehow incorporate its large and valuable contacts list with PG’s online output — I understand a complete review of PG’s output will now be carried out and the place of news at the centre of PG’s online operation is not secure. The statement makes no mention of possible redundancies but having spoken to people with knowledge of the situation, I understand that all jobs are under review and Wilmington will begin a consultation process. After a round of cuts last year, PG now has three full-time journalists plus two part-time staff and roster of freelancers.

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