The handwriting has been on the wall for months, given the lack of handwriting or other new content appearing at the Pro Football Weekly website. Despite the controversial and headline-creating Geno Smith scouting report by Nolan Nawrocki, the worst-kept secret in media circles had been that PFW was in an apparent death spiral.
On Friday, editor Hub Arkush posted a farewell message on the publication’s website. A separate link revealed the cold, hard truth: assets of $143,000, and liabilities of $8.5 million.
“Over the last five years our majority owner and each of the minority partners invested a tremendous amount of money, time and effort to try to build a bridge for PFW from the rapidly deteriorating world of old media to the new, exploding market of digital media and glitzy, new products,” Arkush writes. “We built some truly great stuff that you all seemed to love, but try as we might, we couldn’t get enough of you to pay what it cost us to deliver it. There comes a time when there is just no more money to lose, and now we are forced to close the doors.”
While PFW could have, in our view, remained competitive in the world of new media — indeed, the publication’s “Way We Hear It” feature reflected Internet-style rumor mongering long before folks were mongering rumors on the Internet — the name itself epitomized old-media realities. “Weekly” would no longer cut it; news and analysis must be delivered in real-time via electronic means, not once per week in a publication that looked and felt more like a newspaper than a magazine.
At one point, PFW was an indispensable source of league-wide information and analysis to supplement local newspapers that focused on one team and national newspapers that provided only the most superficial information (but at least they did it in pretty colors). Put simply, times changed and PFW didn’t.
Every new-media publication should heed that warning. Times will continue to change. Those who don’t change with the times eventually will have a pile of liabilities that dwarf their assets, too.