A new threat to editorial independence at UBM Electronics?

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Not so long ago, EDN magazine’s website stated that no contributed technical articles would be accepted if the author’s job title contained the word ‘marketing’. That was completely potty – many of the best engineers and communicators that electronics PR agencies like us worked with were VPs of marketing. How times have changed. Alex Wolfe is now Brand Director, EE Times. Patrick Mannion is Brand Director, EDN, TMW and embedded.com. And Rich Nass has gone back to UBM Electronics as Brand Director for Design News.

Branding is a marketing function so are these once commercially agnostic, objective editors now financially-driven marketers or is this just an extreme case of job title mania? It appears that the former is the case because each brand director will be responsible for “brand health and P&L results”. It’s not as though these guys have been given traditional publisher roles. They report to Karen Field, Senior VP – Content. The bottom line is that those responsible for deciding editorial (and event) content, are now also responsible for P&L.

Interestingly, both Alex and Patrick’s roles were referred to as promotions. On the other hand Junko Yoshida has been described by Kathy Astromoff, CEO at UBM Electronics, as “stepping into the position of EE Times Chief International Correspondent”, having previously been editor-in-chief of EETimes, and David Blaza’s newly defined role is to “focus on sales leadership and strategic partnerships”. I wonder if these are happy changes for both of the individuals concerned.

Kathy Astromoff introduces matrix management structure to UBM Electronics

All of these moves appear to be fundamental to the adoption of a matrix management structure at UBM Electronics. The CEO, who was appointed 3 months ago, sees the existing functional structure as being impossible to scale, creating a vacuum for brand/product decisions because the entire management team has to make every product decision.

The generous view is that UBM Electronics is once again demonstrating a dynamic response to a fast-changing market. But perhaps giving editors P&L responsibility is just one more nail in the coffin of editorial independence.

 

 


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