Here we go again. Canon Communications and the handwriting on the wall

I'll get back to the Twitter stuff in the next post, but we need a State of the Media update regarding the takeover of EDN, Test & Measurement World, Design News and Packaging Digest.  I tweeted about the latest twist yesterday with the layoff of embedded/DSP/processor guru Robert Cravotta and got the requisite wrist slapping from the EDN team about being being "sensationalistic" by calling their embedded coverage dead.

For the record, I know that what remains of the Reed electronics editorial team will do all they can to continue covering an important industry like embedded, as well as DSP and microprocessors and they will do it as well as they possibly can.  But there are only 24 hours in the day and seven days in a week.  EDN now has at least one less team member to cover a growing industry and their current resources are going to be stretched even thinner.  

(Let me just say it again, with more feeling:  EDN/T&M have an incredible editorial team, still.  Even though Canon Communications doesn't appreciate that fact.)

Cravotta, at the same time, was one of the cream of technology journalists.  He was an experienced engineer and approached the industry with a critical eye.  When I did PR I always new I had the right story when I could convince him to take a meeting.  I knew the pitch was a home run when he wrote about it, even if he didn't praise it.  That's what Canon let go.

We can expect to hear of employees getting squeezed with reduced benefits, expanding emphasis on the use of contract writers, more trusted sources heading for the door and journalists in other Canon pubs given the responsibility for covering more.  Even the best of the best is going to see the quality of their work diminish under these conditions.  But that's just at the new Canon titles.  Penton Publications declared bankruptcy a couple of weeks ago, and that's eventually going to put the hammer on the editorial staffs of those publications, who are already stretched thin.  (There is some good news on that front.  According to the redoubtable David Maliniak, the Penton crew are getting on the social media crew, at least at Electronic Design, so there is hope.

A few years ago, when I was talking about the death of EDA coverage, I predicted that the embedded world would be next... and for the same reason.  The industry just doesn't support it's media.  United Business Media (aka, EE Times) has made adjustments, knowing they can't expect advertising to return and they are finding alternate revenue sources.  Right now, the Embedded Systems Conference revenue is subsidizing the news coverage so if the industry wants to avoid sinking into the abyss of the EDA industry, they better keep supporting that effort.  Of course, they COULD start advertising again (*snort*).

What's even more disturbing, however, is the lack of interest the industry is displaying in social media investment... and where they are they go about it all wrong because thy just don't understand their own market.  But their customers are out in the blogosphere, happily dealing with issues and blocking out the vendors who are clueless.

So, as far as embedded coverage goes, there is only two publishing houses with dedicated editorial staff: EE Times/Embedded Systems, led by Rich Nass and Electronic Design with William Wong (upon whom I bestow the mantle of Embedded Guru, now.) Everyone else -- RTC, Open Systems, Tech Focus Media and Extension Media -- are splitting responsibilities or employing contractors.  That's better coverage than EDA is getting, but give it a year.  I'm sure at this rate it will be at parity by then.

Wake up, people.  Here we go again.