Apt, somehow, that I learned about the demise of Training magazine via Twitter.
Though “via Twitter” is misleading. I learned about the closing from Jane Bozarth. Twitter’s just how the news arrived; it’s the way Jane and I usually connect. You wouldn’t say “I learned about it by phone” unless there were some unusual significance to the phone itself–as in, that’s how you found out you’d been laid off.
For a long time, especially when Ron Zemke and Jack Gordon were among its editors, Training was by far my favorite professional magazine. Training and Development had too much ASTD superstructure showing. While Performance Improvement often had solid content, the gems were often larded with academic or HPT jargon and boxed in a bargain-basement layout.
It’s been a long time since I subscribed to any of these. They all ended up on the wrong side of my cost-benefit divide for me. As for Training in particular, I wasn’t aware it was still being published. Hence, gerontoprise, a word suggested by Caroline Kliemt in an email conversation: surprise at learning that something has just died–because you didn’t know it was still around.
(I could have used this word in 1989, when I learned of the death at age 101 of Sir Thomas Sopwith, as in the World War I fighter plane, the Sopwith Camel.)
What I valued in professional magazine pieces was most often some combination of depth (as in detail), relevance (fit what what I was working on or interested in), and clarity. I also appreciated combining “here’s what’s new” with a refusal to drool over bandwagons. Training could do that well, 10 or 15 years ago.
What I disliked? The pauses. Once you read an issue, you had nothing more till the next one. And, for the most part, you as an individual had no voice in what topics might occur; you were relying on the editors. In the case of Training, I did note an apparent abandonment of seriousness as the publication went through new management, lost experienced staffers, and seemed less and less interested in connecting practice to theory.
Not that I need five pounds of theory per day. Connecting practice to theory (having a basis for doing what you do, other than “feels good for now”) can help you avoid hopping onto too many of those bandwagons. (As Claude Lineberry once said, “Computer-based training isn’t the answer. Computer-based training is a question.”)
I do think Training was a true resource, especially if you were new to the “learning profession” and doubly so if you were pretty much the only one in your organization doing what you were doing. Like the defunct TRDEV-L listserv, Training was a step toward a virtual community.
You’ve got many more options for community now, which helps explains why the magazine folded. One corollary, though, is that you’ve got to wire up those connections yourself. You need to think about where you can nourish and expand your professional interests and passions: blogs, Facebook, Twitter, news feeds, virtual conferences, face-to-face conferences, whatever.
But that’s true for any valued network in your life, I think.