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 The Breker Trekker
Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing
Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing
Tom Anderson is vice president of Marketing for Breker Verification Systems. He previously served as Product Management Group Director for Advanced Verification Solutions at Cadence, Technical Marketing Director in the Verification Group at Synopsys and Vice President of Applications Engineering at … More »

Electronics Trade Press, the Bell Tolls for Thee

 
June 15th, 2016 by Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing

In the last few days before DAC, as I was worrying about booth setup and demo practice, an important press release flashed by. The opening paragraph really should have caught my eye immediately: “Arrow Electronics, Inc. (NYSE: ARW) announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the global internet media portfolio focused on technology and electronic design from UBM, including EE Times, EDN, ESM, Embedded, EBN, TechONline, and Datasheets.com.”

Perhaps this news doesn’t seem especially important to many readers, but to observers of the electronics trade press this is a big deal. The titles listed above are some of the best-known brands in the business. Arrow is an electronics distributor and services provider with a fine reputation, but it is not a traditional publisher. This industry transition has given me pause so I will make a few observations and then solicit your thoughts.

This is not the first time that we have addressed changes in the publications industry. In the very first few weeks of The Breker Trekker, I published “Blog Post, Shall I Compare Thee to a Magazine’s Lifespan?” and it drew some very nice readership numbers. Maybe the rather labored title (an indulgence repeated in this post) was part of the appeal, but it was good to know that some engineers are interested in the evolution of the industry providing them much of their technical information.

These changes are a microcosm of what’s happening in many areas of journalism and publishing, so we’re not really surprised. It’s a tough business these days, and retiring print editions to focus on online content is no guarantee of survival. In fact, it was such a decision by UBM that prompted my original post three years ago. Several big-city newspapers and mass-market magazines that had been around for a hundred years or more have disappeared; similar factors threaten our much smaller world.

Although dramatic changes are par for the course in publishing today, there is valid concern when previously independent journalistic voices become part of a commercial enterprise with a vested interest in its own products. Electronic Engineering Journal covered this aspect of the industry’s evolution last week in a well-written article. I can’t add anything except to say that Kevin Morris hit several nails on the head perfectly.

The cynics would argue that journalism is rarely as pure as we’d like to believe. Newspapers and magazines have had to juggle demands from their advertisers for as long as they’ve existed. Some sites that appear to be independent, including in the electronics trade press, are partly “pay for play” in that sponsors are given preferred treatment of various kinds in the choice and content of editorial articles. In any domain, readers should know the sources of their information.

Studies have shown that blogs, including those controlled by product companies, are an increasingly popular source of information. We’re proud of the quality of the content that we include in The Breker Trekker and we have received almost entirely positive feedback. While we try to be accurate in everything we say, we do not pretend to be unbiased. We will talk much more about own products than those of our competitors. That’s the nature of this particular medium.

I have no ax to grind here. I have some nostalgia for the “good old days” of electronics publishing, as I mentioned in my tribute to long-time EE Times EDA editor Richard Goering. But I am not a journalist and I never made my living in that world, so I am not personally threatened. As new communication channels appear, including social media, I try to be open and observe how others are embracing them. We at Breker adopt them ourselves when we believe we can better serve our audience.

As the cliché goes, the only thing constant is change. The electronics press outlets will continue to morph into new forms in response to both financial realities and reader preferences.  Even if Arrow phases out their acquired titles, several good sites offering independent electronics news remain. We will continue to watch this part of our industry and keep you posted on more big news as it happens. As always, we would love your comments.

Tom A.

The truth is out there … sometimes it’s in a blog.

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4 Responses to “Electronics Trade Press, the Bell Tolls for Thee”

  1. Dave Kelf says:

    Hi Tom

    Yes well said. Nicely written blog as well. Maybe you did miss your calling in the journalistic field :-)

    So, like you I saw this flash past pre-DAC and had the same concerns. In the past we all knew that there were a strong group of journalists and editors out there who did take the various EDA companies to task and were pretty unbiased in their reporting. We knew how these guys treated us and, therefore, could rely on their reporting about other companies as well. Some are still there but today it’s much harder to spot the unbiased from the pay for play.

    Seeing the EETimes come under the auspices of Arrow, an electronics distributor, gives me grave concern. Just look what Murdock did for the papers he acquired. However, lets give them the benefit of the doubt but watch carefully to see what happens.

    Thanks for this post Tom and highlighting the latest electronics press development.

    Dave

    • Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing says:

      Thanks for the nice words, Dave. I do worry about the demise of so many independent voices. Fortunately, many of the former journalists and editors who have gone on to work for electronics companies have carved out reasonable roles. Having experienced writers who are as fair and as impartial as they can be still provides an important service to the industry.

      Tom A.

  2. Sean Murphy says:

    Thoughtful write-up with some great links, I missed the press release so I appreciate you exploring it in detail. I am not sure what viable media / content marketing strategies look like in a the middle of a revolution. The old ways are pretty much shattered and new yet to emerge. I do think it makes Electronic Engineering Journal, SemiWiki, and DeepChip much more important for EDA.

    • Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing says:

      Sean,

      Thanks; glad you found my post interesting. We are indeed in a revolution and it is hard to know where to focus our marketing efforts and dollars beyond our own direct channels. Although they are three very different outlets, I agree that EE Journal, SemiWiki, and DeepChip are noteworthy survivors of the shake-out and worthy of attention. There are others; perhaps I should celebrate them in a follow-up post.

      Tom A.

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