Mag Bag: Two More MPA Members Exit

New York magazine 2009 Spring issue Two More MPA Members Exit

Two more publishers are leaving the Magazine Publishers of America, with the departures of American Media--the publisher of Shape, Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness and the National Enquirer-- and New York. This spells more bad news for the magazine industry in general, providing further evidence that publishers are experiencing unprecedented revenue declines in the first quarter.

The news of the high-profile exits comes just a week after Hachette Filipacchi, the publisher of Elle and Car and Driver, became the first big-name publisher to drop out of the MPA. This was especially surprising, since Hachette was previously a leading player in the organization. As chairman, Jack Kliger, the former president and CEO of Hachette, served as a highly visible leader for the MPA from 2005-2007--castigating other magazine publishers, ironically enough, for not joining or not paying their dues.

The departure of New York is a particularly cruel cut, as the hip regional weekly has become everyone's favorite magazine success story, touted as proof (even by other publishers) that print can still thrive in the face of Internet competition. But even this media darling could not escape the broader economic downturn: After increasing 9.2% in the first half of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007, ad pages ended the year down 6.3%. Less surprising is the loss of American Media, which has flirted with bankruptcy in recent months. The company missed an interest payment in December, and earlier this month, bondholders were allowed to take control of the company, which would otherwise be forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Magazines are not the only media that are suffering in the downturn. Earlier this week, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America canceled its annual national convention, scheduled for May 17-19. Also, the Newspaper Association of America scrapped two previously separate trade shows and combined them into a single expo, called the mediaXchange, scheduled for March 9-11.

The Atlantic Tries Multiple Covers

The Atlantic's March issue might look a little different--not from previous issues, but from itself. In a move to raise sales with regional targeting, the issue now on newsstands carries one of four different covers for the same story. Covers vary according to where the magazine is sold. In the article, with the general title "How the Crash Will Reshape America," urban studies expert Richard Florida looks at the broad effects of the recession, which he sees hurting rural/ suburban areas while benefiting big cities. Different taglines target readers in select cities: "New York Wins," "Chicago Wins," "San Francisco Wins" and "Toronto Wins."

Time Inc. Reaches Agreement with Source Interlink

After bringing an antitrust lawsuit against Time Inc., magazine wholesaler Source Interlink Cos. said the two companies were doing business again. The news comes just a week after Source accused Time of colluding with several other big publishers, including Bauer and American Media, to cut off delivery of popular magazines to the wholesaler. Source alleged that this was an attempt to drive it out of the magazine wholesaling business as punishment for charging a 7-cent-per-copy increase in distribution fees--a demand that was dropped in the face of industry opposition. Source further alleged that the publishers then intended to divide up with the two remaining wholesalers, Hudson News and News Group, in violation of antitrust laws. Time Inc.'s agreement with Source makes it more likely that Bauer and American Media will also resume business with the wholesaler.

Playboy Might Be Sold

Playboy Enterprises Inc. said it may sell the company's flagship magazine. It's not clear what would happen if the title parted from the company of the same name; presumably a buyer could stipulate that the company change its name as part of the deal. In the fourth quarter, the company posted a net loss of $145.7 million, with further revenue declines expected this year.

Honey Returns Online

Honey, an urban beauty and fashion magazine that folded in 2003, is coming back online--making it the second urban fashion media platform to launch in recent weeks. Revived by Sahara Holdings, Honeymag.com targets 18-34 African-American and Hispanic women. The news of Honey's revival comes about a week after the launch of UrbanMetro, a new quarterly magazine about urban style for young men. UrbanMetro, published by Ceaser Media Group, is set to debut with a subscription base of 20,000.

Gwinn Named Executive Editor of O, The Oprah Magazine

Alison Gwinn has been named executive editor for O, The Oprah Magazine. Previously, she served as executive editor of Women's Health magazine, where she helped implement the editorial mission for the relatively new and successful Rodale title. Before that, Gwinn also worked for In Style, Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times.

Mitchell Named VP, Publisher Conde Nast Traveler

Chris Mitchell has been named vice president and publisher of Conde Nast Traveler. Previously, Mitchell served as vice president and publisher of Wired Media, a post he assumed in April 2008. Before that he worked at Details and The New Yorker.

Schwarzkopf Named Associate Publisher, Fitness

Eric Schwarzkopf has been named associate publisher for Fitness. He comes to the magazine from Hearst's now-defunct Cosmo Girl, where he held the same title. Before that, he held managerial positions at House Beautiful, Harper's Bazaar, Mademoiselle, Living Fit and Fit Pregnancy.

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