One of the mainstays in Mac publishing is no more. Macworld magazine will cease publishing the print version of its magazine after the November edition. It says the web version will continue publication.
The company also laid off most of its staff.
The news began breaking yesterday on Twitter, with several of Macworld’s editorial staff posting that they had been let go.
In addition to Roman Loyola, Macworld laid off Dan Frakes, Phillip Michaels and Dan Moren. Senior Vice President and Editorial Director Jason Snell announced he was leaving the company in a decision that had been made prior to the layoffs; Serenity Caldwell also posted that she had given notice last week, and would be leaving the magazine at the end of the month. Dan Miller posted that he would be “here for another month to assist with the transition.” Senior Editor Chris Breen apparently remains the only “big name” writer left with the publication.
Macworld magazine began its life with the introduction of the Macintosh and has published continually for over 30 years. There can and will be endless speculation about what led to Macworld’s decline and ultimate demise (at least in print.) The Internet, a less cooperative Apple, greedy and/or clueless corporate management, etc. But throughout its troubles, Macworld remained — for the most part — special, authoritative — the senior spokesman of the tech press.
That reputation came from its writers and editors, who were consistently professional, thorough and readable. They proved you could be a fan without being a fanatic, a reviewer without being a shill. In short, they proved the very motto of my other site, RandomMaccess: “Tech journalism is not an oxymoron.” That’s something all too easy to forget in today’s world of headline aggregation and sponsored content.
My first personal connection with Macworld was in the mid-1990s. I was the art director for a sporting goods company and I was looking to refresh our advertising. I spotted the masthead font that Macworld was using and thought it would look great in our newspaper ads. So, summoning up my courage, I looked up the art director’s name (long since forgotten, sadly) and called him up to ask him what font they used. Would he tell me? Was it some closely guarded secret? Would he even take my call? After all, I was just a lowly art director. He worked at Macworld. The Macworld.
As it turned out, he was just a guy after all. A particularly nice guy, in fact. The font was Aurora Condensed, he told me, and sure — anybody can buy it.
Years later, I’d have the good fortune to meet a lot of people at Macworld, and to become close friends with many of them. But I also got to know them through their work, and they were good at it. A list of Macworld alumni reads like a Who’s Who of technocrati: David Pogue, Andy Inhatko, Sharon Zardetto, Bob LeVitus, Ted Landau, Tom Negrino, Dori Smith…the list literally goes on and on.
Maybe shuttering Macworld magazine was inevitable, and perhaps the website won’t be far behind it. I wonder if big corporations make good webmasters; I think not. Perhaps the future of the tech web belongs to the small startup sites without shareholders or boards of directors.
It does, though, make me fear that we’re entering into a time of more superficial tech journalism. One where sites lack the resources to build labs and buy their own gear to test in them, or to send reporters into the field to cover stories first hand. Where “one amazing trick” headlines invert the inverted pyramid and act as linkbait to get eyeballs on ads at all costs.
But such are thoughts for another day. Today is a day for raising a glass to those who are moving on; for wishing them well as they enter a new, unknown chapter in their careers. Today is a day for hoping we see them again soon, both in words and in presence. And today is a today for mourning something great that’s now gone. Something that changed my life almost as much as the Mac did.
For while it was the Mac that showed me all the amazing things I’d be able to do, it was Macworld that played a big part in showing me how.