Our secret weapon

Author Dennis Spaeth
January 24, 2019 - 10:00am

Since finalizing the purchase of CTE Publications Inc. a few months ago, I’ve been on a mission to meet with as many industry leaders as possible—both to introduce myself and, more importantly, to listen and learn.

What I’ve learned so far is mostly reassuring, but there was a surprising revelation.

From a business perspective, industry leaders have confirmed for me that the horizon is bright despite a continuing skills gap and worries about the trade war. That’s the reassuring part.

What caught me by surprise was a false rumor that CTE would go all digital and that the future of print media in general is bleak. As the new owner of a print trade magazine, naturally I couldn’t help but think of these “ironic” words from singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette: “He waited his whole damn life to take that flight, and as the plane crashed down he thought, ‘Well, isn’t this nice.’”

Ironically, I spent the better part of the past decade trying to convince the former owner and publisher of CTE that the internet wasn’t a fad and that it had a robust future. Now, it would seem, I need to flip the script to champion print.

Or do I?

I’ve never viewed CTE’s various media channels as separate, distinct products: a print magazine, a digital magazine, a website, an e-newsletter, a mobile app and a smart TV app. CTE is one entity with multiple media channels, and I champion all of them.

To be sure, the success of some channels, such as our print magazine, has been thoroughly vetted, while others, like the CTE+ smart TV app, are only just beginning to build a following. The point is that CTE has a unique ability to tell a story that can reach across all the media channels our audience prefers.

The key to the future is to adapt as a media company and be available on all the media channels our audience uses. It’s fundamental media history.

Newspapers did not die when radio came along. And, yes, there was a mighty gnashing of teeth about how radio would kill newspapers at the time. Then television came along. Yet we didn’t say goodbye to radio or newspapers. With each new medium, there was a period of adaptation. That’s where we are with the internet.

The bottom line for all media, however, is that content is king. To survive, each medium must provide content that meets the needs of its audience, making optimal use of its strengths.

Providing informative, well-written articles with eye-catching layouts is what CTE’s print magazine does best, and that’s what CTE will continue to provide in print. The print magazine also has done something else very well: Drive traffic to our digital channels. As the electronic media editor keeping track of website traffic, I watched in awe when traffic spiked each month as the print magazine made its way to 60,000 qualified subscribers.

It’s as if the print magazine is our secret weapon.




Dennis, who served as electronic media editor at Cutting Tool Engineering from January 2007 through May 2018, is now the owner and publisher of the magazine and CTE Publications Inc. Dennis holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University, and has more than 40 years of media experience.