I received an email today from JPG Magazine. for those of you who don’t know JPG is “…a community connected by a love of photography” it allows you to “share your pictures and stories and discover interesting photos by people like you! JPG is your view of the world around us”. On the face of it JPG has little that differentiates it from other photography based sites such as Flickr for example. But, it’s USP is that the best photos (and stories) uploaded by its community are published in a printed magazine 6 times a year.
I love websites that successfully marry on and offline in this way, I always feel the sense of community is heightened because of it. Whether its simply Facebook giving you the ability to arrange your own events, Moo connecting with Flickr to give your photos physicality (with the help of Little Moo of course) or even to a lesser extent flash mobbing, created to “poke fun at hipsters and to highlight the cultural atmosphere of conformity”.
Unfortunately the email I received this morning delivered bad news. After only 2 years JPG is having to shut up shop. The reason given sadly reflects most closures these days in that the team behind JPG, 8020 Media, “weren’t able to raise the money needed to keep JPG alive in these extraordinary economic times.”
I’m embarrassed to say that however much I loved the idea of JPG I never managed to submit any photos myself, this is partly down to me placing too many things in the ‘I must get round to that one day’ pile and partly due to the fact that I’m a truly rotten photographer!
I feel really sorry for all the people associated with JPG, and especially the 200,000 strong community of content providers/magazine subscribers. I also wonder what this means for 8020 when according to their website JPG represented 50% of their publications.
This mornings news, along with a conversation with a close friend on New Years Eve about the situation at Free Radical which saw 140 employees laid off the week before Christmas was a cold reminder of the unfortunate and sudden demise of Deepend back in 2001. At the time it represented a small part of the ‘dot com bubble‘ but on a more personal level a turning point in my life.
It also made me think about the relatively recent events at Carsonified which saw 3 members of the ‘family’ (representing 23% at the time) laid off and the subsequent debates that opened up around Ryan Carson openly blogging about it. Whatever your opinions maybe of those particular events unless you’ve been in the position of being made redundant you can’t fully appreciate the situation.
Although the news about JPG is simply a site closure and doesn’t, for the time being, represent any redundancies that I’m aware of I thought the way in which it was handled was good. The email was open and honest about the situation, explaining that all efforts were made to continue the service but that they were unsuccessful. It was short and to the point but most importantly put the emphasis on the community who are for the time being the ones losing out.
A lot can be learnt from the simplicity of this message in the current climate. With the power of multiple communication channels, such as Twitter, news can be spread instantly and to a large number of people but the content delivered needs to be considered, not only the content of the message, its focus and intended audience but the context of it in relation to other messages. The handling of the Carsonified redundancies is a perfect example of this, the comments that appeared on their blog, along with the conversations flying around the twitterverse showed how passionately everyone felt about it. Every aspect of the situation was under scrutiny, from the focus of the message to previous blog posts and even down to the financial implications of management/employee benefits.
Anyway, that’s enough rambling for now. Well done if you managed to read this far! If you have any comments on this post please feel free to contribute below. For those of you who might be interested here’s the JPG email:
“Today is a particularly sad day for all of us at JPG and 8020 Media.
We’ve spent the last few months trying to make the business behind JPG sustain itself, and we’ve reached the end of the line. We all deeply believe in everything JPG represents, but we just weren’t able to raise the money needed to keep JPG alive in these extraordinary economic times. We sought out buyers, spoke with numerous potential investors, and pitched several last-ditch creative efforts, all without success. As a result, jpgmag.com will shut down on Monday, January 5, 2009.
The one thing we’ve been the most proud of: your amazing talent. We feel honored and humbled to have been able to share jpgmag.com with such a dynamic, warm, and wonderful community of nearly 200,000 photographers. The photography on the website and in the magazine was adored by many, leaving no doubt that this community created work of the highest caliber. The kindness, generosity, and support shared among members made it a community in the truest sense of the word, and one that we have loved being a part of for these past two years.
We wish we could have found a way to leave the site running for the benefit of the amazing folks who have made JPG what it is, and we have spent sleepless nights trying to figure something out, all to no avail.
We’re soggy-eyed messes, but it is what it is. At that, JPGers, we bid you goodbye, and good luck in 2009 and the future.”
I just found this posted on the JPG blog too:
JPG Magazine says goodbye