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Amid E&P Crisis: I'm Worse Off Than Michael Jackson?

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That's what one Web site suggested, in a list of "famous people" who had a very bad year in 2009. I came in at #18, putting me behind Tiger, Madoff and Carrie Prejean but ahead of Mark Sanford (who may be impeached) and Michael Jackson -- who died! Not to mention Jon & Kate.

So I guess that puts the likely folding of my magazine, Editor & Publisher, in some perspective.

It took 125 years to build an institution and only 10 minutes to kill it, one week ago today.

Out of the blue, our handful of staffers heard the news in a small conference room at Nielsen headquarters in New York's East Village, in a building that once housed another institution -- one of the world's first department stores, Wanamaker's.

Kirkus Reviews, which dated back to the 1930s, was given the boot at the same time, even as Nielsen sold eight of our sibling business publications to a new consortium.

We knew some sort of deal was pending, and expected to be part of it, or left behind at a Nielsen happy with its new income from the deal -- and perhaps ready to, finally, spend a little on us, notably to upgrade our when-dinosaurs-walked-the-earth Web site. It was not to be, even though we had never been warned that we were on the brink and didn't seem to be facing any bigger challenges than 90 percent of all magazines these days.

Perhaps they thought that the news of E&P's demise would get lost in the media excitement over the selling of Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek and some other well-known titles. It was not to be. In fact, the opposite occurred, which, I confess, gives me some pleasure. The vast majority of headlines in major newspapers and radio and TV reports went to E&P's demise.

Believe me, we were amused, though heartened, to see "Editor & Publisher" (with the correct ampersand, no less) hitting No. 4 on the top Twitter trending topics, and stay in the top 10 most of the day. It must have shocked others, as well, as many tweeted, "WHAT is Editor & Publisher doing in trending topics?"

Best of all, we were swamped with e-mails from longtime fans -- some of them household names -- who expressed outrage at the sudden closing, offered to send money (or to help us go online), praised our work and said this meant doom for the newspaper industry. I wouldn't exactly go along with that final prediction, but it was good to hear so many tell us how much they loved us and what a big role we had played in their lives, some going back decades.

"You helped me get jobs four different times," one fella wrote about the once-legendary classified section. Others hailed our frank (and multiple award-winning) coverage of media failures in the run-up to the Iraq war, and other hot topics.

We heard from famous names and unknowns. We even received words of praise from many we had criticized in the past with our usual "no sacred cows" reporting. Maybe it's just the old cliché of you-don't-know-what-you-got-till-it's-gone.

In any case, the outpouring of support -- staggering, really -- has been so overwhelming that not only did staffers decide to stay on for two weeks and publishing our January 2010 edition, there's at least a decent chance that someone will step forward and help us continue. Offers, some credible, are being considered. Even Bob Dylan has appealed for our survival. If nothing happens, staff members may join together in some kind of (unpaid) online effort. Stay tuned. And thanks for the kind words.

As for my Plan B: Watch here premiere of trailer for my upcoming series, "An Incompleat History of Rock 'n Roll."
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Greg Mitchell has been editor of E&P since 2002. He is the author of 10 books, most recently "Why Obama Won." He blogs here.