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Editor & Publisher Sold to News Veteran, Who Plans to Expand Magazine’s Focus

(Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images)(Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images)

Editor & Publisher, the self-described “bible of the newspaper industry,” has been acquired by digital media veteran Michael Blinder, who plans to broaden the publication's mission.

He bought the magazine from Duncan McIntosh Company, the company that publishes Boating World and Sea Magazine, for an undisclosed amount.

Once a go-to source of information about the news business, Editor & Publisher has lost its luster in recent years. Years of contraction in the print news industry has decimated its natural subscriber base of news executives, editors, and reporters.

E&P says it has a print circulation of 10,500 and readership of 38,850. It also has over 24,000 digital subscribers.

Rival Columbia Journalism Review is a nonprofit that is reliant on donor support, but has nonetheless been impacted by the same dynamics. In 2015, it reduced the frequency of its print edition from six issues a year to two yearly 'special issues'. CJR has seen growing digital readership, however, with coverage that often focuses on the big-picture social implications of the changes to the journalism business. One-time rival American Journalism Review shuttered in 2015.

Blinder's goal is to enlarge Editor & Publisher's focus to also include television news like CNN and the crop of digital news outlets including Vice that have emerged to take on traditional media.

“Editor & Publisher is not just a magazine for newspapers,” said Blinder. “It’s now a magazine for news publishers.”

Blinder, who has never served as publisher before, will oversee the business side of Editor & Publisher. But he brings a deep well of experience with him.

After helping launch a website for the Portland Press Herald in 1999, he spent two decades as a consultant to media companies, with a focus on training ad sales teams and the transition to digital. Blinder’s clients have included Gannet, Hearst, McClatchy, and the New York Times.

Blinder said Editor & Publisher will continue to put out a monthly print edition. However, he plans to also add more multimedia, particularly podcasts, to appeal to a wider audience.

“I want the digital geek who publishes a blog to come to me to learn how to monetize that blog," Blinder said. "But I also want the guy with two Pulitzers to come to me.”

Blinder also acknowledged how the news industry has become a target during President Donald Trump's tenure. He said he wants to use Editor & Publisher to defend both publishers and journalists against politically-motivated attacks.

“We’re not going to sit back and watch an industry get insulted," said Blinder. "We are not the enemy of the people. We are human beings, reporting on the news.”

Blinder has a contrarian take on the suddenly burning issue of bias in journalism. “All news is biased,” he said, “because it’s written by human beings. It’s the nature of a human reporting. Gutenberg was biased. That’s why there should be multiple news outlets.”

He identifies the ongoing erosion of local news as a key concern for the new Editor & Publisher. “We are in a crisis when it comes to local news . . . Who’s serving the smaller communities and being the watchdog of the town?”

Based on his experience, Binder is optimistic about news as a business. Even local newspapers can be profitable, he said, “just not at the same levels as 15 years ago.” And while he’s not entirely bullish on print, he believes it remains a valuable part of the mix.

The seller, Duncan McIntosh, purchased Editor & Publisher in 2010, when it was on the verge of being closed by then-owner Nielsen. Since 2010, Jeff Fleming served as Editor & Publisher's editor in chief while also serving as vice president of Duncan McIntosh. He will remain with Duncan McIntosh and hand over the editor in chief role to Nu Yang, previously managing editor.

Yang met with Blinder ahead of the close of the deal. “I’m really excited to see where Mike’s going to take it," she said. "He wants E&P to step up and be the voice of the industry."

Blinder said Editor & Publisher is not currently profitable, and that he hopes to improve the bottom line, including by outsourcing production of the print product. But he said he will take no salary as publisher, and describes the purchase as a way of giving back to the news industry.

Said Blinder: “I’m not doing this to get rich. I’m fine. I’m a steward, taking the magazine on its next journey.”

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