Murdoch Buying PDN?

- - Magazines

Financial times is reporting that Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son Lachlan is closing in on a joint offer for a group of trade magazines owned by Nielsen Business Media (here). There’s no telling if PDN will be a part of the sale but the story goes on to say that Nielson would like to shed the print publications because “investor focus on its exposure to declining print advertising revenues could impede a successful IPO.”

I don’t know how far from the tree this apple fell, but if Lachlan is anything like his father he will be happy to find out PDN still has pay walls in place and still charges a premium for subscriptions. If anyone is poised to weather the storm it’s niche publications like this. Everyone seems to be talking now about jacking up subscription prices and installing pay walls as a way to remain insolvent and magazines like PDN suddenly seem ahead of the curve since they never bothered to chase numbers by dropping those revenue streams and relying purely on advertising. Much to the chagrin of photographers who dislike all the contests aimed at them I do think the business model for magazines includes a healthy revenue stream off your readers. In the last 10 years most magazines have taken a loss in that department in favor of inflated numbers to present to advertisers. Those days are over. My only advice for publications looking to embrace/monetize their readers is to drop the smugness.

There Are 26 Comments On This Article.

  1. PDN regurgitates the same articles year in, year out. They have been too easy on many of the primary players who have helped to ruin the photography business over the years and yes, their subscription prices are way too high. After 10 years of biblical-like devotion, I have finally said “NO MORE” to the hype and moved on.

    To add… the magazine and it’s publishers have always had a “Murdoch” type mentality when it comes to it’s customers. If this news is correct, it looks to be a great fit for the Murdoch family.

    • @Dean,
      I just want to point out that this is true for many magazines. I worked on 8 “Best Places to Live” packages and many other perennials at magazines. The editor always said, “just because you’re bored with it doesn’t mean our reader are.” And, I think that used to be true when they did those things once every 3 to 5 years but they got greedy and wanted to attract more on the newsstand and those always did well on the newsstand with one time buyers.

  2. Thing is, PDN has less than 20,000 subscribers ( dropping fast) and only makes money with their competition and the PhotoPlus expo. Not really a good deal, is it ? It barely has any news anymore, just editorial advertising
    Furthermore, with less than 12 issues a year, it is a publishing dinosaur. Finally, it’s a well fact that it’s leaking money…They are not part of the deal because it would cost too much to make them up to date.

  3. PDN’s been going down the dumper for years surviving by the fact they have no competition. They are not forward-looking, enlightening/enlightened as a publication; my experiences are of pettiness and childishness. I let my sub slide years ago and imagine I am not alone. I would love to see a photography magazine online, perhaps one that showcases photography as well as providing industry news in a timely manner. Something that looks like a professional publication and behaves as such.

  4. Look on the bright side. Maybe PDN’s poor customer service will improve under different a different publisher. We should all be willing to pay a fair price for good content or we’ll all be out of business before long. But PDN’s quality has been on a downward slide for a while now. I would like to see more and better stories but that will only happen if they are making the money.

  5. No Dog in this fight

    How soon until Scott Kelby launches his own photo magazine and convention?

    I see it happening within the year.

  6. How long before the PDN Swimsuit issue appears?

    Seems that it was not long ago that some magazines started splashing scantily clad bodies across their covers to attract interest, but without success. Unfortunately I think photography magazines doing that lose their credibility, though I could see that happening at PDN.

  7. Pretty Darn Nothing

    In my opinion, this very blog is the new PDN. Here is one guy, sitting in his living room in his underwear, bringing more pertinent news about the photo world on a daily basis, than an entire staff is doing from midtown Manhattan.

    • @Pretty Darn Nothing,

      Genuine LOLs. Robbie in his undies. Cheeto crums all over his beer belly.

      • Pretty Darn Nothing


        Seriously, it does make you wonder, doesn’t it? Ever scanned down the Masthead of a major magazine, and wondered what all those people do? I guess it takes that many to get a national magazine out the door, but the point of this, it just shows the power of the internet, and how things are changing, and how, in the end, it comes down to PERTINENT CONTENT. And here’s a guy, somewhere in remote Colorado, probably listening to the Grateful Dead while he works, with ten or twelve kids running around, probably living in an old School Bus and growing weed, and yet, most every morning, he gets up, does his research, and writes a nicely-crafted article that connects with the modern photography industry. And he keeps his audience, even without sponsoring a Photo Contest.

        Yeah, the side business of the website thing helps; there’s always that nagging thing about paying the bills, but still, the comparisons between APE and PDN are interesting, (and encouraging).

  8. Lots of folks criticising PDN ’cause it’s not a NYC gossip rag. Bet they’re from NYC!
    Who cares what’s going on way down there so far from away everything?
    I get some valuable tidbit of information about technique, equipment etc from almost every issue that more than pays for my annual sub. And I pay the foreign sub prices.
    PDN Rocks!

    • @John Fowler,

      I did not read that into the comment about the history of PDN. It was a NY oriented paper. I think the original name was New York Photo District News.

  9. I was sitting in my living room contemplating the post about PROOF. I think about the world news and I find it mundane and lackluster. It has become depressing to hear how things are going bad because of others bad decisions. It is why I have stopped watching and listening to broadcast news.

    If PDN goes away the only bad thing will be the lost jobs of those employed who do the real work. Policy makers I don’t have much empathy for. PDN is like many of the others mags I use to read, content has been overrun by a higher percentage of add space. Yeah it stinks but it pays the bills for the publishers and on the opposite side of the fence it really doesn’t serve the consumer. There needs to be a balance, ample content, and a balnce of good consumer and advertiser participation.

    The good news is there are creative’s like Rob who will step up to the plate, collaborate, create content. They will get the news and content out to those who want it. Those who want it(consumers) need to be consumers. It will be interesting to see who else steps up.

    Personally I am looking at my budget to see who I will be subscribing to as a consumer and PDN is not on the list. I remember the adage of “you got to spend some money to make some money and you get what you pay for” and I am willing to spend to get the product I want.

  10. I’m very curious to know whether or not any of the PDN staff reads this and other blogs concerning their “efforts” in putting a magazine (content) together with the hopes of continued readership in these days of iffy editorial works….hmm?

  11. I finally let my 20+ year subscription lapse a few months ago. One reason was the space given to largely advertorial stories as well as reviews of equipment that had already been reviewed far earlier by online sources.

    My rationale was that for little more than the cost of a few years worth of PDN I can buy another netbook, and pretty soon I’ll have one for each bathroom in my house.

  12. Rob: by the way it’s Lachlan, not Lachian, and I assume he’s more interested in the trade mags. Billboard and the The Hollywood Reporter than PDN. Neilsen have lost $168 million this year, the owners looking for out I’d think. Murdoch also just paid A$23 mil. for a new home and bought 50% of Daily Mail (Aust.) and 2 radio stations.
    This quote also notes his bidding partner … ‘Pluribus includes James Finkelstein, the publisher of The Hill and Who’s Who, Matthew Doull, a nephew of Conrad Black, and George Green, former publisher of Hearst Magazines International.’

  13. An observer

    If PDN goes belly up…..

    Pity the poor old internet marvels that PDN consistently pushes….

    My guess is they are famous enough now that they have surpassed the need for PDN to rave about their work, latest fanboy video or whatever is the flavor of the month.

    Photo District News was an excellent magazine a long time ago. I recall the first issues when it looked like a real NYC rag. Newsprint, folded over and pretty much New York centric. Their consistent weakness from the first issue to today has been their lack of fact checking in interviews and stories. I know several well known shooters who refuse to be quoted or interviewed by PDN because they get the facts wrong. I have been quoted in PDN several times in my career and they always messed it up.

    The glory days are long gone and the focus IMO is much more on gear (ie, advertisers) or fanboys and less on how the industry works and worthwhile projects or campaigns.

    Life goes on and Rob’s blog fills in the need for insightful interviews and commentary. I learn something from every interview he has posted.

    I am grateful that Rob continues to write this blog.

  14. I still like PDN, and I’m fine with having other people enter all those contests if that’s helping to pay for the mag … as long as the winners don’t take up like 30 pages of an issue …

  15. Chuck Shakokis

    I subscribed for 5 years or so but it started to get stale, it was more about the technology than the photography. I stopped my subscription a year or so back & don’t miss it. Still have a couple of issues lying around that I’ve never unwrapped.