In Depth

Editor's Note: TVWeek, and TV Itself, Are Ready for a Fight

Everything is going to be fine. In fact, it’s going to be excellent.

Perhaps it’s the promise of spring. Perhaps it’s the optimistic rhetoric of President Barack Obama. Perhaps it’s the green sprouts of an economic recovery.

Whatever the cause, I’m declaring an end to the malaise that has been haunting the TV industry (and the TV trade press). Others have made similar pronouncements, but that sounded like cheerleading. Until the most bearish, skeptical journalist of the bunch (specifically, me) gets optimistic, it doesn’t mean so much.

The TV industry’s current bout of anxiety crystallized in 2005, when Apple started selling TV shows on iTunes. In a practical sense, the Apple-ABC deal didn’t change much, but it signaled the start of the industry’s struggle with digital delivery of TV. Ratings declines and commercial skipping have compounded worries.

Those problems aren’t solved. And the current conditions will be an extinction event for some executives and business models. By the same token, these hard times will forge the television that the next generation will know—a smarter, more relevant way to deliver the great stories that form the medium’s soul.

Already, TV companies are showing resilience. They’re joking about the difficulties. The humor behind Hulu’s promotional campaign and Conan O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” teasers rings true—confident and snarky.

Are there still fundamental challenges that will alter the business? Of course. Will profit margins shrink? You bet. But recently the mood has changed. The industry has found the will to make a new way. And hopefully in this new, more Darwinian environment, the astonishing volume of really, truly awful television shows will decrease. (More optimism!)

Along with the contractions that have wracked TV, the trade press has suffered. Cuts have resulted in less penetrating coverage. This has made the trades, traditionally deep in the thrall of the companies they cover, even less feisty.

TelevisionWeek, which made its name forcing existing trades to be more competitive, hasn’t been immune. But by becoming a Web-only entity, it has found a path through the woods.

The reader can decide, but for my money TVWeek pound-for-pound is the toughest trade in the game. Even as we thinned down, we kept scoring scoops thanks to reporters like Josef Adalian, Michele Greppi, James Hibberd, Jon Lafayette, Chris Pursell and Daisy Whitney.

It’s inevitable that the evaporation of the business-to-business advertising base in the TV industry will bring more cuts at the trades. Our move to the Web may be all the excuse that executives at other publications need to float similar plans. Once more, TVWeek is stirring up the Hollywood trade press.

The new TVWeek is journalism stripped down to its core: a news hound chasing stories, and a publication to distribute them. I’m proud to hand off TVWeek to a group that is more hungry and savvy than anyone in the game.

I can’t wait to watch the scoops start piling up.

—Greg Baumann