A tale of two media!

The end of this week saw two things that starkly mark out the extraordinary changes that are effecting publishing, specifically publishing in the field of engineering and automation.

The final issue!

Good bye and thank you!
The first was the very sad notice of the decision of the Reed-Elsivier which announced in a rather bald statement on the Control Engineering website, “As of April 16, 2010, the remaining publishing brands and their associated products and services have closed.” The site itself will will close on April 30, 2010.

Though not quite a bombshell, the company had announced last July that it was intending divesting itself of as many of the publications as possible and in fact did sell of a number of them, it sadly however, did not include Control Engineering or Plant Engineering, two stalwarts of the American automation media.

The CEO of RBI, Kieth Jones in his unenviable task of informing the world of the decision said, “These publications have had very experienced, professional and committed teams running them in the most difficult of circumstances. However, their trading performances have been under pressure for some time and the impact of the recession and media migration in the markets for these titles is such that we cannot see our way back to profitable growth.”

But what does this mean? Walt Boyes in his Sound Off blog comments, “What it does NOT mean is that automation and plant operations are not served well by magazines. What this means is that the mega-giant Reed Business Information couldn’t find buyers for some magazines that they no longer supported.”

It echoes the fate of another magazine some 15 years ago in Britain, Control & Instrumentation (C&I) and its associated exhibition which died for the same reason. Lack of enthusiastic support on the part of a huge conglomorate.

The automation industry and community is the poorer for their passing. The automation publications in the US, and elswhere, have an special relationship with each other and with their industry. Each has a unique place and viewpoint and thus a perhaps unbridgeable gap will be left in the American automation scene.

All publications are feeling the pinch in these times and hopefully the three remaining automation publications, InTech, which became a bimonthly earlier this year, Control and Automation World will continue to provide their individual perspective in our diverse industry.

This is a sad day indeed for those who have served the automation community through these publications, all we can say with great sincerity is how sorry we are at what has happened and thank you all for your years of service to our discipline.

Valé adque avé – welcome
Not all is gloom and doom however and we are pleased to confirm that David Greenfield, who was editorial Director at Control Engineering until recently, is now Editorial Director at Design News – which is now owned by Canon Communications along with Electronic Design News (EDN), Test & Measurement World and Packaging Digest. (Incidentally Canon Comunications is also responsible for the Advanced Manufacturing UK show in England which we hope to attend on 27th April 2010 – volcano permitting!).

Well done Jim!
Also during this week we learned of a high honour to somebody who has used the new publishing media to great effect not only in the service of his company but also in the spreading of information on the new and exciting technologies becoming available in the automation and processing sectors. We are talking about Jim Cahill, whose blog, Emerson Process Experts, received BtoB Magazine’s BtoB Social Media Awards 2010 in the blog category. This is a not insubstantial plaudit and the citation deserves repeating here.

Connecting with the People behind the Technologies and Expertise

“If there were a lifetime achievement award for b-to-b social media marketing, Emerson Process Experts would be in the Hall of Fame. Jim Cahill started this blog in early 2006, when few people even knew what a blog was.He’s kept at it over the years, adhering to a rigorous update schedule and adding new features like a Twitter feed and Flickr photo gallery as those platforms became available. Emerson Process Experts is notable for its singularity. In a market in which few competitors have adopted any form of social media at all, Cahill has been years ahead of his competitors. His topics are the kind of meat-and-potatoes technology discussions that matter to Emerson customers. These people don’t make many buying decisions, but when they do make them, the price tags are in the millions of dollars. And thanks to Jim Cahill, when they go to Google to look for “Process Control,” Emerson is right there at the top.

It is difficult to add to that eulogy. In the short time that it has been possible to see what is happening in the new “instant” media vehicle facilitated by broadband connections his contributions have been interesting and frequent. He knows how to foster “virtual” relationships. Many have never met the guy – although as an Irishman I have learned that he, like all Americans, mispronounces his surname – but through his blog and other contributions, twitter etc they have come to know him. This is the democratic power of  social networking over the web. Somebody in Ireland, or Brazil, or Austin Texas can feel that they “know” somebody they have never met, and perhaps never will meet. His blog is after all about Connecting with the People behind the Technologies and Expertise.” That in part is the reason Jim Cahill’s blog has achieved this recognition and citation. Our thanks to him.

  • See also item Best Corporate Blog based on Emerson’s release (22 Apl ’10)

  • 2 Responses to A tale of two media!

    1. Jim Cahill says:

      Eoin, My thanks to you for your post! It was unfortunate to be celebrating the honor while a huge number of B2B magazines were stopping operations in the same week. Change seems only to accelerate.

      I did learn I was mispronouncing my surname in my youth, but never had the guts to correct my Dad and Grand Dad… 😉

    2. instsignpost says:

      I only realised it when I was at ISAExpo last year and nobody knew whom I was talking about when I mentioned your name…:-)

      Yes it is symptomatic of the changes in communication that these things are happening in publishing, probably the most momentous changes since the invention of the printing press…

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