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ABM session explores expanding role of editors

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Last fall, American Business Media named a half-dozen industry leaders from member companies as volunteer regional governors, tasking them with creating programs to enable more members to participate in ABM activities without having to travel long distances.

On March 19, the New York regional committee hosted its first official event for editors at Advanstar’s offices in New York.

Randall Friedman, VP-group publisher at Lebhar-Friedman and the ABM’s New York regional governor, said the regional committee chose to put together a panel of winners and judges from the Jesse H. Neal Awards—which were presented later that day—to leverage the gathering of “the best practitioners, the best editorial minds in the business.”

Rance Crain, president of Crain Communications Inc. and editor in chief of Advertising Age, moderated the discussion. (Crain Communications publishes Media Business.)

“We have to give users what they want to read, not what we think they want to read,” Crain said. “Journalists need to become better marketers. We can’t have the attitude that we are surrendering to the dark forces of commercialism by doing so.”

While editorial, marketing and sales forces may have to work together more closely than ever before, “roles must be clearly defined and journalists [must] lead this charge,” Crain added.

Abe Peck, director of business-to-business communications at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, said the people the media have traditionally viewed as audiences are now partners.

“Rather than simply being producers of content, journalists are becoming impresarios of content,” he said, explaining that b-to-b editors can also serve their markets by sifting through the clutter of information on the Web and identifying what’s most important.

Lori Cioffi, editor in chief of Northstar Travel Media’s Meetings & Conventions, said, “We’re never going to have the resources to cover everything in our market, so we link like crazy. We want to drive traffic to our Web site because [our audience knows] we will point them to everything they need to know.”

Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, offers another way to drive traffic to b-to-b media sites, said Daryl Lang, online managing editor for Nielsen Business Media’s Photo District News. “I use Twitter every time we have news, and it has definitely driven traffic to the site,” he said.

Marya Ostrowski, editor of the Journal of Family Practice, published by Lebhar-Friedman, said she uses the Web to present content in ways that are impossible in print, such as audiocasts, interactive polls and webcasts.

For Bar Business, a new bimonthly magazine from Simmons-Boardman, the Web is essential for keeping in contact with the audience between print editions, said Chris Ytuarte, editor in chief.

Dave Burda, editor of Crain Communications’ Modern Healthcare, said all his editors work in print and online. “Think about cooking shows on TV, where all the ingredients are precut and ready to go when the show airs,” he said. “Similarly, we take our best Web stories each week and put them together in print. This has actually made the print edition more sophisticated.”

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