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Space for an online ‘Press Gazette’

I don’t think it is complete tosh. In his post yesterday on the death of Press Gazette Neil McIntosh seems to be pointing to a way of resurrecting of at least the spirit of journalism’s trade mag as a web publication.

Now, why would McIntosh who is the Guardian Unlimited’s head of editorial development suggest anything like that. Well, Roy Greenslade, who has reported the slow death of PG better than anyone, in his Guardian media blog, yesterday wrote: “It offered the kind of competition that kept us rival journalists on our toes. We could measure our success against it.”

The fact is that we need a continuance of the Press Gazette or something to replace it. Hold the Front Page is jointly owned by the giant regional press owners and Media Guardian is produced by a big media business and, as Greenslade pointed out, it needs someone to keep it on its toes.

McIntosh, in his Complete Tosh blog, says, “the magazine’s website (110,000 uniques a month) was much more popular than the printed version where, I suspect, all the effort went (4,639 sales).”

He writes: “It seems like the PG always had an internet-style problem, even before the web existed. Readers – journalists – were used to getting it for free, as it turned up in newsrooms on a Thursday or Friday, and would then be passed around. Why pay when you could get it for nothing? Sound a familiar problem?”

And finally he points at a way that a future journalism publications could succeed. “At a time when online publishing has found a very low-cost, high impact model of publication, PG went old school and bulked up. Had it embraced the new model – looking to Nick Denton [Gawker], Rafat Ali [Paid Content] or Ashley Norris [Shiny Media] rather than to the glory days of print – it might have survived.”

If there was any possibility of that model being successful if it had been done some time ago, its prospects must be much better now. A start-up online publishing business would be unencumbered by the working practices, investment and debts of the past.

It would probably have to find a new name unless the receiver finds he can only give away the Press Gazette title. But there is a real opening here for an independent British journalism online magazine and it is important that we have this voice.

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