PR man Lou Covey has an interview with venture capitalist Drew Lanza at his site that, although it was recorded before EDN laid off two senior journalists, is well-timed. Basically, Lanza is not happy with the way things are going in this particular corner of trade publishing and makes some points that publishers should bear in mind as they try to work out what to do about the separation of ad money from their business.
Lanza is not trying to make an argument on behalf of anyone: his interest in the content of magazines such as EETimes and EDN is selfish. In short: "I made money on articles in EETimes".
Of course, it is highly possible that the content we have all been producing has really only helped VCs. But I don't think that's the case as Lanza alighted on the things that can set a newspaper or a magazine apart from other sources.
Unfortunately, Lanza is only missing it because it seems to have gone: "I know there is something changing and it is impacting the way I do business. There used to be a crystal ball and it used to be in these pubs. I'm missing the in-depth technology articles...it's going to be harder to synthesise the future [without them]. We make money by taking those views of the future".
Lanza is sceptical of whether bloggers can fill that void. "It is not clear that bloggers are going to be capable of doing that synthetic activity – synthesise a view from multiple competing smart people."
In reality, there is nothing to stop one or more bloggers doing that. But Lanza doesn't make the point on the basis of bloggers being bad at it. Just lacking the motivation to make it happen: "How will they get paid?"
What's useful about Lanza's comments is that we have had these debates internally for many years. What do we deliver as journalists? The answer, at least from a trade perspective and, very often, in a consumer or newstand environment is: context. What's happening. How it's happening. Why it's happening. It's handy to this kind of thing from someone outside the publishing environment.