Report: CRN to Shutter Print Magazine

International tech publisher UBM is reportedly preparing to shutter the print versions of CRN and InformationWeek and layoff as much as 50 percent of the editorial staff in a restructuring of the entire company.

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The print versions of CRN and InformationWeek, two of the iconic tech media brands in the North America market, are reportedly slated for the cutting room floor, according to reports by Folio Magazine.

UBM, the parent company of the two magazines, is reportedly working on a restructuring that includes shutting down print magazine operations, laying off 100 to 300 editorial, sales and back office staff and consolidating offices.

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Folio cited unnamed industry sources as the foundation of its report. In response to inquiries, UBM Tech Paul Miller described the report as “wildly inaccurate.” Officially, though, UBM spokespersons are neither confirming nor denying the report.

Eliminating the print versions of CRN and InformationWeek would come as no surprise, as many tech publishers either have or are preparing to exit print as more readers and marketers migrate to Web sites and mobile products. Ziff Davis Enterprise, now owned by Quinn Street, shuttered eWeek in 2010. TechTarget shut down its few print magazines in 2007. And IDG has consolidated many of its print properties.

CRN remains the market leader in North America media, with its 35-plus year history, but the magazine has seen better days. Over the last decade, CRN and its related properties have seen market share and revenues bleed away. In 2008, UBM’s channel group, then called “Everything Channel,” shuttered VARBusiness, which too was once a huge brand. Over the last five years, CRN and its related businesses have shed staff positions and products to remain viable.

While shutting down CRN is clearly a cost saving move, as printing, subscription management and circulation are hugely expensive. Unclear is what comes next. UBM is shifting toward a tech events company. The UBM channel group has spent much of the last five years trying to diversify beyond its core properties with mixed results. Last year, CRN launched an app for iPads, which had exclusive content reserved for paid subscribers – insiders say the program was a fiasco from the start and failed to achieve any operational or strategic goals.

CRN print may be struggling, but other UBM channel products remain strong. XChange, the group’s conference division, just wrapped its annual XChange Solution Provider event in Orlando, and its annual industry event in August remains the top channel conference of the year. CRN, the online property, remains the leading channel media site. And IPED (the Institute for Partner Education and Development) continues to support a number of vendors in channel research and development.

The Folio report said nothing about when these changes could come. Traditionally, UBM and subordinate divisions don’t execute layoffs until June.

CRN UK, the partner of The 2112 Group and Channelnomics in the United Kingdom, is not related to CRN in the U.S. and is owned by Incisive Media. CRN UK continues to publish a weekly print magazine.

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