2 min read

Layoffs and shortcomings

The layoffs are coming so frequently in B2B media these days that the announcements have become little more than background noise. It's getting harder to remember who has lost their jobs, which publications have folded, what companies have had their debt downgraded, etc.

But sometimes a piece of the bad news catches my attention and I feel obliged to say something.

So it is today as I hear that Crain is laying off 150 of its staffers.
I'm terribly sorry to hear this. I offer my sympathy to the folks who have lost their jobs. I've been laid off in the past. And it's a painful experience.
But there's also a part of me that is somewhat less than sympathetic.
Here's why:
Way, way back in the days before the Web, Crain was my idea of just how good a B2B publisher could be. I was a fan of the company and many of its brands. I thought of Crain as a guide to what all of us in B2B were supposed to do.
But since the arrival of the Web, Crain has become a company I tend to use as an example of what not to do.
And it was nearly two and a half years ago, as I wrote a piece criticizing the company, that I decided Crain would never "get" the Web.

I have no doubt that the folks who have made bad decisions at Crain in recent years will survive the layoffs. That, as unfair as it may be, seems to be the way the world works. Many of the newly jobless are likely innocent of any sin against journalism or the Web. A quick read of the comments in that post I linked to above shows that at least one journalist at the company was struggling even then with the limits placed upon her. And I assure you, I've met several other Crain journalists who have voiced similar thoughts.

I would like to think that things can change at Crain. I'd like to think that somehow the difficulties of the economy and the shock of the layoffs will prompt the survivors to take more risks and practice a more serious form of Web-based journalism. There are reasons to be hopeful -- the Web sites at Crain have in fact improved -- albeit slightly -- since November of 2006.
But tonight I don't see the one thing that would convince me the company is still serious about journalism.
That's because as I write this piece tonight, I can't find a story about the Crain layoffs at either of the Crain sites dedicated to covering this industry: Media Business and B2B Magazine.

UPDATE (3/19)  As a comment to this post points out, Crain did eventually publish an article about the layoffs. It appeared on Wednesday. March 18, at 1:25 in the afternoon EDT -- nearly 24 hours after the layoffs were announced.

tags: , , , , , ,