Insiders See More Closures In 2008-09The coming year will see a wave of magazine closures, according to executives from several big magazine groups, who spoke off the record about the prospects of the magazine business in the wake of Hearst's decision to close CosmoGirl. The executives emphasized that their opinions were based on industry gossip, not firm knowledge of any plans. And it goes without saying that as corporate competitors, they could have a vested interest in talking trash. However, the unfolding economic crisis makes it likely that magazines in general, already hurting from falling ad revenues, will take some big hits in the next year.
One candidate for closure or consolidation mentioned repeatedly in separate conversations was Time Inc.'s Entertainment Weekly, which has seen newsstand sales and ad pages drop. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, Entertainment Weekly's newsstand sales fell 7% in the first half of 2008, compared to the same period in 2007, to 40,147--while ad pages in the first three quarters are down 19.1% to 904, per the Publishers Information Bureau. According to the industry rumor mill, Entertainment Weekly could be folded back into People, its original home, sometime in the next year.
Magazine executives are also watching the battered business category, focusing on Kiplinger's Personal Finance and SmartMoney. Both have suffered big newsstand drops and substantial declines in ad pages. Kiplinger's newsstand sales were down 19.6% to 44,407, according to ABC, while ad pages in the first three quarters fell 13.6% to 309, per PIB. In the same period, SmartMoney's newsstand sales fell 20.1% to 49,133, while ad pages plummeted 25.7% to 359.
Executives at other publishing groups said these niche business titles might be too specialized to survive a big economic downturn, which could otherwise buoy interest in business reporting; SmartMoney is more vulnerable because it is a joint effort by Hearst and Dow Jones, which may feel less invested in the brand.
Men's Vogue and Teen Vogue were also mentioned as possible candidates for closure--as both are heavily dependent on newsstand sales, which have plummeted. However, only one of the Conde Nast titles would likely get the axe. At Men's Vogue, newsstand sales are down 17.9% to 111,799, while ad pages are down a mere 4.8% to 449; Teen Vogue's newsstand sales are down 15.7% to 201,200, while ad pages are down 4.9% to 815.
Finally, there were warnings of doom for three titles targeting kids: Nickelodeon, National Geographic for Kids and Sports Illustrated for Kids. While newsstand sales figures are not available, the situation in ad pages looks dire for all three. Nickelodeon is 30.2% down to 138 pages, and MTV Networks' decision to close Nick Jr. last year does not bode well for its older sibling.
National Geographic for Kids is down 42.7% to 53 ad pages--a stark contrast to the grown-up edition, which has held steady in a harsh ad environment. Sports Illustrated for Kids is down 24.8% to 123 ad pages, compared to a 7.9% drop at the grown-up version, to 1,396 pages.
BusinessWeek.com Asks Readers "What's Your Story Idea?"
No news is bad news for journalists, but BusinessWeek.com may have dispelled the curse of slow news days with a new online feature called "What's Your Story Idea?" The Web feature asks readers to send in pitches that may then be investigated and written up by a BusinessWeek journalist--if the tip or concept is juicy enough. This simple concept manages to capitalize on the appeal of user-generated content while maintaining the editorial standards of the magazine.
Meredith Promotes Newman to Parenthood VP/Group Publisher
Meredith Corporation has promoted Diane Newman to the position of vice president and group publisher for the Meredith Parenthood Group, which includes Parents and American Baby. Previously, Newman served as vice president and publisher of Parents, a role that she assumed upon joining the company in March 2007. Before that, Newman was senior vice president and group publisher of American Media International's active lifestyle group, including Shape and Fit Pregnancy.
Schwartz Named General Manager for Digital, RD Community
Steven Schwartz, previously the general manager of ReadersDigest.com, has been promoted to general manager for Digital/RD Community--a broader role where he will not only oversee ReadersDigest.com, but also Selecciones.com, online book promotion, and mobile and video initiatives for Reader's Digest Community, among other things. In his previous role, Schwartz led a redesign of the Web site and expanded its sales and business development areas.
Southern Living, Cottage Living Get New EICs
Time Inc.'s Southern Living and Cottage Living would be getting new editors in chief as part of an executive shuffle. Cottage Living's current president and editor has been named vice president and editor in chief of Southern Living, the flagship title for the brand. Filling her role at Cottage Living will be Lindsay Bierman, who previously was the founding executive editor for the magazine. Eleanor Griffin is replacing Southern Living's current vice president and editor in chief, John A Floyd Jr., who is retiring at the end of the year. Griffin is the first woman to hold that post.