RIP Stanford Professional Publishing Course

October 13, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Posted in Business Models, Journalism, Media business | Leave a comment

Say a little prayer for the Stanford Professional Publishing Course, officially shut down at the end of September. It was 31. Cause of death was acute financial stress due to general economic upheaval and the acute insufficiencies affecting publishing in particular.

As a course alum, as both a student and lecturer, I join many colleagues and friends in mourning the demise of the SPPC.  I was lucky enough to attend in an era (not so long ago, really) when my employer not only was willing to allow me but actually encouraged me to take a little time to think strategically and come back to my desk refreshed and full of ideas. A few actually came to pass — like some of the web projects I helped to initiate at JAMA in the 1990s — and others had more appeal as ideas than as real-world businesses. No matter. There was a sweet appeal in being able to brainstorm with some of the great minds in publishing and be treated as their equals, if even for only a few days at a time.

The SPPC was where many of us first heard in any detail about the web; learned about an experimental venture called HighWire Press; listened to a largely unknown Jeff Bezos talk about a crazy little company he called “amazom.com” (and complained years later about having not bought stock the next day); dictated headlines to the founding editor of People magazine; shared a beer with Brendan Gill as he talked about his days at the New Yorker and a half-dozen of the greats of American literature; and got to hear John F. Kennedy Jr. charmingly admit that he wouldn’t have been George‘s publisher but for his celebrity.

Marty Levin, one of SPPC’s deans, provides more details here.

Will a new SPPC rise up to serve today’s generation of media professionals?

Stay tuned.

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