NFL fans lost a good one in the last week, as Pro Football Weekly officially announced on May 31 the closing of operations after an almost 46-year run.
Gone are detailed NFL Draft previews, the annual offseason “On the Clock” feature, “Whispers,” “The Way We Hear It” and “Audibles,” among others.
It’s the end of an era for a mainstay of NFL news, but an even sadder day for print journalism.
What led to the demise of a widely respected NFL publication?
Hub Arkush, now the former publisher/editor of PFW, detailed the reasons in a heartfelt farewell article to readers. And a letter sent to creditors by Tailwind Services LLC, the Assignee/Trustee of PFW’s assets, describes how the constantly changing landscape of today’s media adversely impacted PFW’s operations in recent years:
Since the introduction of online publications, blogging and social media, PFW began to experience the same business headwinds that other publishers of traditional media had experienced.
PFW attempted to adjust to the current trends by “aggressively investing in digital assests,” according to the Assignee’s letter.
But it was too late; exactly $8.5 million in liabilities too late, as noted in the Assignee’s letter.
Given how the Internet has changed journalism and news consumption over the last decade, it’s no longer a surprise when a magazine or newspaper goes out of business. Any media organization neglecting the power of the Web in a tech-savvy world does so at its own peril. The most brutal year so far proved 2009, appropriately coined “The Year the Newspaper Died” by BusinessInsider.com.
And the hits keep coming.
In recent months The Sporting News released high-profile staff writers, the Chicago Sun-Times cut its 28-person photographer staff and even ESPN wasn’t immune to personnel drawdown.
Outside of ESPN, the bloodbath on the print side over the years means the market is currently saturated with unemployed highly qualified, award-winning journalists vying for the same job.
Still, seeing Pro Football Weekly go under took a personal feel.
As most know, I contributed to PFW as the Kansas City Chiefs team correspondent during the second half of the 2012 NFL season. Some of my fondest memories as a youth were indeed running to the nearest newsstand to buy a PFW magazine, so it was an honor to write for a publication I grew up with.
I was overjoyed to receive a call in late October 2012 from then-senior editor Eric Edholm, who offered the position to me. And the opportunity to work with editors Edholm, Mike Wilkening and Keith Schleiden proved invaluable if even for a short time.
So to Pro Football Weekly and all former staff members, I offer my best wishes as they move on to new positions. Additionally, I extend my sincere gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to a fine publication.
More importantly, thank you to Pro Football Weekly for almost 46 years of covering the greatest game on the planet.
You will be missed.