'INDUSTRY STANDARD' SUSPENDS PUBLICATION

Observers Characterize Situation as 'Shocking'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In one of the most dramatic indicators that the tech economy has fractured, The Industry Standard is immediately suspending publication to look for a buyer, according to an executive familiar with the situation.

The news was reported first by AdAge.com earlier this afternoon.

"We don't publicly comment on industry rumors," said a spokeswoman for IDG, the majority owner of the weekly new-economy title. A spokeswoman for the magazine was on vacation -- staffers were informed some weeks ago that everyone would be on what one called an "unplanned vacation" this week -- and did not immediately respond to a call.

Falling fast
Few titles have flown so high and fallen so fast as the Standard. Last year the title posted more ad pages than any other magazine. This year, through July, the magazine's ad pages were off 75.3%.

The executive familiar with the situation said one reason for the title's collapse was that the magazine's board members could not agree on a financing plan for its debt obligations, which were incurred in the wake of last year's frantic expansion.

Though magazine observers do not rule out the possiblity of an eventual sale, it's been widely reported the Standard had been searching for a buyer for some time.

Shocking news
The news shocked magazine industry executives. "I thought they would have been the last to go," said Reed Phillips, managing director of DeSilva & Phillips, a media investment bank. "They had a strong market position and backers with deep pockets."

The economics of weekly publishing are less forgiving than monthly publishing in tough times, which presumably accounted for the forced downtime the Standard's staffers took this week.

It's unusual for a title to suspend publication while seeking a buyer, said Chip Block, a publishing strategist for Ziff Davis Media, and generally indicates bankruptcy may be imminent.

"You damage the asset when you suspend publication," Mr. Block said, though sales have occurred after titles ceased publishing.

Outlined in red on the most recent issue is the coverline "The party's over. Now the blame game begins."

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