Mag Bag: Layoffs Grow, So Does Readership

National Geographic cover/Nov 2008 Layoffs Grow, So Does Readership

A lot of people have lost their jobs over the last month, and sadly, the publishing decimation continues. In the most recent round, National Geographic laid off 13 members of its staff, per Gawker, which first reported the news. Altogether, the publisher is planning cuts of 5% to 10% across the company. According to the Publishers Information Bureau, in the first three quarters of 2008, ad pages at National Geographic were up 0.5%; National Geographic Traveler was up 5.2%. However, National Geographic for Kids was down 42.7%.

Also this week, The Economist Group said it would lay off about a dozen employees from its North American division; however, not all of these were from the magazine. Most of the layoffs are in the Economist Intelligence Unit, which handles business-to-business publishing. Through September, The Economist's ad pages are up 5.9%, per PIB.

Past cuts include Conde Nast--which has undertaken to trim 5% of its total workforce, including an unknown number of positions at CondeNet, its digital arm. Rodale, publisher of Men's Health, said it would be cutting about 10% of its total workforce. Mansueto Ventures, publisher of Fast Company and Inc., laid off 20 employees and shut its digital division down entirely.

Time Inc.--the world's largest magazine publishing company--said it would make as many as 600 job cuts, or about 6% of its work force. On Thursday, 15 positions at Entertainment Weekly were cut. Time Inc.'s Southern Progress Corp., which publishes Southern Living and Cooking Light, already laid off 30 employees or about 3% of the unit's work force.

McGraw-Hill said it would cut 270 positions across the company--including 140 jobs at the Information and Media unit, which produces BusinessWeek, along with other B2B publications. McGraw-Hill did not specify how many of these cuts would affect BusinessWeek. American Express Publishing cut 22 jobs. Finally, Playboy Enterprises announced that it would cut 55 employees and eliminate 25 unfilled spots, for a total of 80 positions nixed.

MRI Gives Magazines Some Good News

Amid an otherwise desolate and discouraging month, the release of Mediamark Research and Intelligence's Fall 2008 data brought a much-needed piece of good news to many magazines, which saw their audiences grow. Although the increase in audience size was hardly universal, many magazines are gaining readers.

Increases came across a broad spectrum of categories, including categories that are supposed to be suffering. Forbes, for example, enjoyed a 10% increase in its audience from full year 2007-2008--to just under 4.9 million--while Cooking Light saw its total audience increase 8% to just under 12 million. AARP the Magazine grew 8% to 32.8 million. Health grew from about 7.1 million to 7.8 million, a 9% increase. In Touch Weekly jumped 19% to about 6.5 million. Men's Fitness grew 16% to about 7.6 million, while competitor Men's Health rose a more modest 5% to 11.3 million. Real Simple jumped 14% to 7.1 million.

Sue Launches

Laughing in the face of the crumbling economy, a new magazine targeting female lawyers is launching. The wittily named Sue: For Women in Litigation is on schedule to hit the newsstands in January. The first issue carries a headline item, "If Women Wrote the Laws," along with teasers like "Girls Just Wanna Have Funds." There is also a list of the 10 most influential female litigators. Part of the magazine's mission is tearing down stereotypes about female lawyers, including the long-lived prejudice that women are not as aggressive in the courtroom as men.

Tiger Oak Buys Washington CEO

Minneapolis-based Tiger Oak is buying Washington CEO magazine, headquartered in Seattle, and plans to merge it with its Seattle Business magazine. Tiger Oak acquired Washington CEO from Sabey Corp., a real-estate firm also based in Chicago.

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