Mag Bag: Hallmark Magazine Shutters

Hallmark magazineHallmark Magazine Folds

The steady procession of magazine closures continued this week with the demise of Hallmark Magazine, which will cease publication after its February-March issue, according to Hallmark Cards, Inc. The Web site is also closing, the company said.

Hallmark Magazine launched in September 2006 with an editorial mission focusing on family, friends, and celebrations, targeted female readers with content including recipes and decorating ideas. It did well in terms of ad pages, at least compared to the rest of the industry, with an 11% increase in 2008 compared to 2007. It also enjoyed strong growth in readership, launching with a rate base of 400,000 which grew to 900,000 before the title was claimed by recessionary pressures.

Donald Hall, Jr., the president and CEO of Hallmark, explained the company's decision: "Despite favorable consumer acceptance of the publication, we cannot justify continued investment in the magazine at a time when we must focus our efforts and resources only on those projects that will lead to long-term profitable revenue growth for the company."



Hallmark is the latest in a series of relatively new magazines targeting niche female audiences that have succumbed to the adverse economic environment. 2008-2009 has seen the demise of Blueprint, a shelter title launched in 2006 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia; Quick & Simple, launched in 2005 by Hearst; O at Home, launched in 2003 by Hearst; Wondertime, a parenting title launched in 2006 by Disney; Domino, a shelter title launched by Conde Nast in 2005; and Craft, a crafting title targeting younger women founded in 2006.

Yahoo Vet Heads to Hearst

Neeraj Khemlani, formerly the head of Yahoo's news and information operation, will join Hearst Corp. in March as vice president and special assistant to the chief executive for digital media. His move, revealed by Hearst Monday, comes as the company announced its intention to shake up its digital operations: Khemlani will be responsible for leading "digital content transformation" at the company, covering both its magazine and newspaper properties.

Khemlani's move is somewhat reminiscent of Wenda Harris Millard's much-publicized departure from Yahoo in 2007; Millard left her position as Yahoo's chief sales officer to take up a new role as president of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. In both cases, the troubled online giant tried to portray their departures as part of a corporate plan, giving the impression that it was in control of events: Millard was supposedly cashiered by President Sue Decker, and Khemlani's move comes as Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz hinted at an upcoming reorganization of the company's management. However, Millard later said she left the company voluntarily, implying that Yahoo's explanation was more spin than reality. Similarly, Khemlani was initially tapped as a key mover in Yahoo's reorganization, rather than a "movee."

In an interview with earlier this week, Khemlani was somewhat opaque about the reasons for his departure, saying only: "It wasn't coordinated other than I wanted to make sure I didn't sign up for something I couldn't commit to." In the same interview, he described his new role at Hearst as a sort of digital jack of all trades, with access to all areas of the company; as he will report directly to Hearst CEO Frank A. Bennack, Jr., this implies broad authority to change up digital operations if need be.

B-to-B Ad Pages Down 13% in Q4

Ad pages in business-to-business publications tumbled 13.1% in the fourth quarter of 2008, feeling the effects of both a secular shift in business news consumption to the Internet and the broader economic downturn. The statistic was released by Business Media's Business Information Network. For 2008 overall, ad pages declined 9.6%.

Mittman to Publisher of Wired Magazine

Howard Mittman has been named publisher of Wired Magazine, replacing Chris Mitchell, who was moved to the position of vice president and publisher of Conde Nast Traveler. Mittman previously served as associate publisher of Wired. Before that, he also served as ad director for Popular Science.

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