JPG Magazine Shutters

Posted on 1/5/2009 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

JPG magazine, a 2-year-old bimonthly print title that published reader-submitted imagery, has become the latest casualty of the economic crisis. The publication shuttered operations as of Monday, Jan. 5.

According to the announcement by JPG editor in chief Laura Brunow Miner, the magazine spent the last months of 2008 trying to raise funds needed to continue publishing: “We sought out buyers, spoke with numerous potential investors, and pitched several last-ditch creative efforts, all without success.”

The demise of JPG is, in fact, the demise of 8020 Media, the San Francisco-based publishing company that owns the title. In a letter published by The New York Times on Friday, 8020 chief executive Mitchell Fox wrote: “In the face of these extraordinary economic times, in a devastated advertising climate, we can no longer continue to operate the business due to lack of funds, and hence we have to close 8020 Media effective immediately.”

JPG published themed issues, for which it collected submissions from its online community. Members voted on each other’s submissions, and final selection for the print edition was made by JPG editors.

Though the photographic community overwhelmingly agreed on the excellent quality of images published in JPG, many likened the business model to other forms of user-generated content, such as citizen journalism. Fox and others have empathically argued against such comparisons. Even in his final statement, Fox said that 8020 Media and JPG were on the verge of profitability, having failed only due to strong negative market forces. “It remains undeniable that the publishing industry MUST find a new model, and mass collaboration and participation in the media property is certainly now proven it can be the foundation of this new model (NOTE: This is NOT citizen journalism),” he adds.

Still, those that have been watching 8020 Media closely may not find this development entirely surprising.

Some say that the company’s troubles started when it parted ways with JPG’s founders, the husband-and-wife team of Derek Powazek and Heather Powazek Champ, who conceived the title in 2004. The founders had departed JPG and 8020 in 2007, and the break-up was far from amicable, according to Powazek’s public explanation.

In 2008, 8020 launched Everywhere, a travel magazine based on the same business model as JPG—only to close it in August, after publishing four issues. At the time, Everywhere editor Todd Lapin said: “Suspending publication of Everywhere will enable 8020 Publishing to focus on improving the community platform behind JPG magazine, 8020's other title. That, in turn, will benefit all the future titles 8020 plans to produce.”

8020 Media employed 18 people. JPG and its Web site were supported by advertising, as well as newsstand and subscription sales. Single issues and subscriptions sold for $5.99 and $24.99, respectively.

Copyright © 2009 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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