Joe Strupp: Goodbye 'E&P'? A Wonderful Ride

By: Joe Strupp After writing about too many layoffs, buyouts, furloughs and shutdowns, I got the news myself Thursday when bosses at parent company Nielsen gave us the word that E&P would cease to exist.

I have spent 11 years here, more than half of my 21 years as a reporter. In all of that time, this was the first layoff of any kind I have faced. Yes, I have been lucky. I have also been lucky to work with some of the best people in the business and cover both the good and bad of newspapering.

I first learned of E&P, as most in the business did, looking for jobs back in my post-college days. Then as a reader finding as much interest in the business stories as those about how a newspaper covered something. I was even in a photo around 1989 for a story about women editors that focused on my former editor, Isabel Spencer, at the now-defunct Daily Journal of Elizabeth, N.J.

My first stories for E&P were freelance assignments, sent in by snail mail to then-editor John Consoli and printed without a question: a check to follow. I still have a copy of my first freelance check from 1994.

Five years after that, I was hired full time back when we were a print weekly with barely a Web site. Editor Steve Yahn was in charge then, a class act with a great sense of humor. We were the family-owned Editor & Publisher Company and being able to write about newspapers, my favorite institution, was a dream.

Over the years, the editors changed, but the joy and excitement of writing about the news world never stopped. I thank Steve Yahn, Bill Gloede, Sid Holt and especially current editor Greg Mitchell for their guidance, support, understanding and leadership.

Greg has helped teach me the importance of asking tough questions, has allowed me to pursue stories of interest, and has taught me more than anyone about writing for print and the Web.

I have been lucky in my time at E&P to write both news and opinion about the media, and beyond. I have met three presidents, countless senators and congress people, and media big wigs from Rupert Murdoch to Otis Chandler to Bill O'Reilly. I've been in the editorial board room of The New York Times and on the guild picket line at The Associated Press.

I was lucky enough to have lunch with Ben Bradlee, breakfast with Phil Bronstein, and dinner with the entire gathering of the American Society of News Editors. I was at the Republican National Convention in 2004 interviewing Michael Moore amid a torrent of boos thrown at him and at the White House Correspondence Dinner just a few feet away from Karl Rove when he and Sheryl Crowe went at it over environmental differences.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was sitting at my desk here when news of the terrible attack spread, later watching the Twin Towers fall on television and witnessing the waves of people walking north along Broadway below our window from the ground zero site. Of course, it quickly became an assignment and I was able to write about how local papers covered the tragedy, first on the Web, then for our special edition on the events.

Both my children were born while I worked here, and editors were generous with time off to help with their births and afterward. I once fed my daughter, Cloey, a bottle during a staff meeting.

I will miss everyone here. Greg, whose love and knowledge of baseball equals his news abilities; Managing Editor Shawn Moynihan, who tolerates my poor grammar and loves a good "Caddyshack" reference; Mark Fitzgerald, who knows more about this business than anyone and offers a guiding view; Jennifer Saba, who put up with sitting next to me for six years and allowed me to show off photos of my children to her; Jim Rosenberg; who gladly listened to questions about the tech biz; and Art Director Reiko Matsuo, who patiently waited for photos and offered holiday treats that rivaled any others.

The outpouring of support from readers has been incredible, dozens of e-mails and phone calls from top editors, sources and even those who likely did not appreciate my probing questions, but respected our work. The reality that more than 100 years of coverage is about to end is still sinking in.

Through it all, people have always given E&P the respect we always hoped it earned. Known as "the bible" of the newspaper industry, I believe we still did our best to help cover the newspaper world as it changes and goes through its toughest time ever. Not the death of newspapers, but the transformation as I believe they will live on, perhaps in other forms, but still providing the best news coverage of any medium.
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