By Chuck Ross
Editorial Director and Publisher, TVWeek
As someone born and raised in the shadow of Hollywood, I’m thrilled to have a Varietyese headline of my own choosing.
It’s time to move on. I turned 68 this month and I’m retiring. I’ll still write — I can now devote all my attentions to a book I’ve been researching for several years — but myself and my colleague and friend Dennis R. Liff, our executive editor — who has done most of the heavy lifting for this site for a long time now — are calling it quits for TVWeek. Primarily it’s been just the two of us who have been putting out TVWeek for a number of years now.
We’ll leave the site up for anyone who wants to check out old stories, but we’ll no longer be publishing our daily links to TV stories around the net. If you are interested in another site that aggregates stories about TV, we heartily recommend TVNewsCheck, run by our good friend Harry Jessell.
Today ends almost 38 years of continuous publication. We started on May 3, 1982, as Electronic Media, which became known as EM. The publication was the brainchild of Rance Crain as a spinoff of Advertising Age, which Rance’s dad, G.D., founded in January 1930.
Rance changed our name in 2003 to TelevisionWeek, and in 2009 we became an online only publication.
When I first joined EM in 2000, as its editor, it was a bustling, vibrant publication with about 50 employees, equally split between the business side and the edit side.
All the stories we published then were written by our terrific staff. Unfortunately, marketplace conditions dictated a path for us that led to our becoming a publication that aggregated and linked to stories published by others, with little original reporting.
By the way, I think I have (finally) figured out a way for TVWeek to return to those glory years. That would be if it’s adopted by a journalism school. As the owner of TVWeek for the past five years, I’d be willing to sell the pub to a J-school for a dollar.
The plan would be for journalism students to make up much of the staff, as they experience what it’s like to run a real-life trade publication that has accumulated an excellent reputation over its 38-year lifespan. With a full editorial staff, TVWeek would once again become a publication filled with crisp, perceptive, original reporting.
Dennis Liff has told me that he would be open to staying with the publication if a J-school took it over. In partnership with the new owner it would be decided which other positions needed to be filled by professionals who would work with the J-students.
That’s the idea in a nutshell. I ran it by one dean of a J-school who liked the idea but said he didn’t think he could swing it budgetwise (paying to support a website and paying some professionals to work with the students) and that it didn’t really fit with the way his school’s current curriculum works.
I do think it would be a win-win for the right partner. There are a lot of J-schools out there, but it’s rare for one to also be able to give its students the opportunity to write for a real-life national trade pub serving a major industry, with the J-school owning the publication.
In the premiere issue of EM back in 1982, Rance Crain wrote: “Our exclusive niche will be defined as the wide range of electronic media, in all its new, old and emerging forms. We believe in the need for a publication that will blow away all the smoke and pull together, in a meaningful and useful way, the relationships involved.”
That need is still there.
I can be reached at email@example.com if anyone is interested. Dennis Liff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, I have a lot of people I want to thank before I sign off. To read those acknowlegements, please click here.