So, one week on from the defenestration of Johnathan Shephard, what have we learned?
If it was up to the PPA itself or the public pronouncements from the PPA Board, the answer would be naething much at all. The PPA ‘News‘ section is devoid of, well, news. It doesn’t even have the press release announcing Shephard’s departure (though to give them their due, they did manage to airbrush all references to him from the site within 12 hours).
The PPA Board has been silent both collectively and singly, demonstrating the gift for leadership that we’ve all come to love. Presumably the board agreed with Shephard’s vision for the PPA when they appointed him last year, so one might conclude that they got rid of him because he was either not following this strategy, or they felt that the changed circumstances of the past year meant a change of vision was needed.
In private, publishers are a bit more forthcoming. Shephard seemed very good at cutting costs, but his year zero policy of axing all events and most of the awards junkets as well as getting rid of the marketing department left the PPA’s visibility at an all time low – and that was just within the industry. Given their other pressures, publishers were starting to question just why they were paying their not inconsiderable membership fees.
It seems to have been this chitter that persuaded the board to do something, because if it’s one thing that they don’t want it’s the existential questions, mainly because (collectively) they have no answers. Just what is the PPA for, actually?