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BoSacks Speaks Out: It has been an interesting day today. This morning I got the opportunity to speak via Skype to a wonderful college class hosted by John Fennell, Associate Professor and Meredith Chair at the Missouri School of Journalism.

 

Later today and just by coincidence, we all heard that Meredith Corp was closing down Ladies Home Journal after a run of 131 years. In the after effect of the announcement, I received a dozen notes from friends, associates and concerned subscribers. Most, if not all, suffered from a sort of malaise, as if they had just read the entrails of a deceased animal that foretold in some way the death of us all. The mass conclusion was that the death of Ladies Home Journal was proof of the death of print itself, and woe be unto us all.

 

My perspective, which I shared with those others, is that the closing of LHJ has nothing to do with gypsy prophesies. It has to do with the nuts and bolts of a vibrant industry which, at worst, is in a transformational stage. Magazines have been born, lived a full life and died multiple thousands of times. It is normal, and what we have always done as an industry. We create, we make revenue and put mercifully to sleep those titles that no longer display the necessary sustainability for a healthy life.

 

Now, in no way am I being flippant about those who will lose their jobs and in some cases their livelihood. That is, indeed, a very sad and horrific position to be in. But the pain is on individuals and not a reflection of the entire industry. In my hope of hopes, the people who lose their jobs will be redeployed as soon as humanly possible, perhaps even as staff in a new title or yet-to-be-born magazine.

 

That a noble enterprise has closed its doors is not a reflection on the industry's ever resilient ability to create new words and new thought and entertainment worth the price of admission. It is about the Darwin's rule of publishing - survival of the fittest and the most interesting. It has always been thus, and it will always be thus.

 

 

Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.

William Shakespeare

 


Old Ladies' Journal Sent to the Home

 

 By D. Eadward Tree

http://deadtreeedition.blogspot.com/

 

 

The 131-year-old "Seven Sister" title Ladies' Home Journal was consigned today to the magazine industry's version of the old folks' home - "special interest publication."

Meredith announced it will discontinue publishing the 3.2-million-circulation magazine as a monthly and transfer its subscribers to other Meredith titles.

 

LHJ will travel the same path as some other venerable titles whose audiences became a bit too venerable for advertisers' tastes - such as LifeU.S. News & World Report, andCountry Home: The LHJ brand will appear in print only on newsstand-oriented special-interest publications, often referred to as bookazines because of their lack of advertising, high prices, and focus on a single theme.

The magazine "has been challenged from an advertising perspective, in particular, primarily due to its higher-than-normal, if you will, median age, which takes it out of a number of the buys," Stephen M. Lacy, chairman and CEO, said during a conference call today, according to a transcript published by SeekingAlpha. (In the inimitable, no-BS words of The Ad Contrarian: "Marketers, it seems, would rather pander fruitlessly to young people than make real money selling things to old people.")

"So the objective here and the strategy here is to continue to make the brand available to the individual consumer who has been loyal to Ladies' Home Journal by moving it to a newsstand-only publication," Lacy added.

That makes sense, considering the title's continued strength at retail: An Association of Audited Media Report showed average newsstand sales of 131,212 per issue in the second half of last year, up 4% over 2012 despite continued shrinkage of newsstand venues.

The transition "significantly eliminates any advertising dependency and a lot of the costs that go along with creating that business," Lacy said. "It allows us to take those resources and focus them on our very robust parenthood category, where we absolutely lead with the Parents brand and related brands: American BabyFamilyFunFamily Circle, in the home category with Better Homes and Gardens and all those related activities."

It's sort of like starving gramma so you can feed the babies.

The injection of nearly 3 million subscribers transitioned from LHJ will also create a windfall for other Meredith titles. They will be spared from some of the usual low-ball pricing, gimmicks, and direct-mail campaigns that consumer publications so often need to maintain their high circulation levels.

Related articles:


 


Ladies Home Journal to Fold After 131 Years in Print

Stalwart of the Onetime 'Seven Sisters' Had a Circulation of 3.2 Million

By Michael Sebastian

http://bit.ly/1hpFsKU

 

 

Ladies' Home Journal, an icon of American publishing and cornerstone of what were once called the "Seven Sisters" of women's magazines, will cease monthly publication after 131 years, parent company Meredith confirmed Thursday.

The magazine will become a special interest publication sold on newsstands, according to Meredith spokesman Art Slusark. The company's current plan is not to sell subscriptions, he added.

 

The July issue will be its last as a monthly, with the special interest publication slated to appear on newsstands in the fall. The website will also continue to publish.

 

Meredith is moving production of those special issues from New York, where Ladies' Home Journal has been based, to its corporate headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. The entire editorial staff was laid off. They were told the news as the company's earnings call began Thursday morning. Staff on the business side might be moved to other positions within Meredith, according to Mr. Slusark.

 

The magazine, which began publishing in 1883, has a circulation of 3.2 million, according to its report with the Alliance for Audited Media. At its peak in 1968, the magazine's circulation was 6.8 million, according to Meredith. The company bought Ladies' Home Journal in 1986 from Family Media in a $96 million deal that also brought Health magazine into the Meredith family.

The company will serve those subscribers with its other titles, whether that's Better Homes & Gardens, More or Every Day with Rachael Ray, according to Mr. Slusark.

 

"It's not a consumer issue, it's an advertising issue," he said. Ladies' Home Journal was "more challenged than our other titles because it wasn't a category leader," he added, noting that it also had a higher median age than some of its other magazine.

 

Ad pages had fallen 23% this year following several years of double-digit ad declines, including a 17% drop in 2013, according to Media Industry Newsletter.

 

Ladies' Home Journal is one of the original group of women's service magazines called the Seven Sisters, along with fellow Meredith titles Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle as well as Hearst-owned Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Woman's Day. (The seventh sister, McCall's, closed in 2002.) They share similar challenges of graying audiences and declining ad pages.

Mr. Slusark said that transitioning Ladies' Home Journal to a special interest publication will "improve the profitability of Meredith's National Media Group, which oversees its magazines.

 

Meredith posted a 37% decline in profits during its most recent quarter. Ad revenues across its national magazines fell to $112 million from $129 million the prior year.

 

Ladies' Home Journal, an icon of American publishing and cornerstone of what were once called the "Seven Sisters" of women's magazines, will cease monthly publication after 131 years, according to several people inside parent company Meredith.

 

The magazine may continue as a brand in the form of special issues, these people said. It may also exist in some form online.

 

A spokeswoman for Meredith declined to comment.

 

The magazine, which began publishing in 1883, has a circulation of 3.2 million, according to its report with the Alliance for Audited Media. But its ad pages had fallen 23% this year following several years of double-digit ad declines, including a 17% drop in 2013, according to Media Industry Newsletter.

Ladies Home Journal is one of the original group of women's service magazines called the Seven Sisters, along with fellow Meredith titles Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle as well as Hearst-owned Redbook and Woman's Day. (The seventh sister, McCall's, closed in 2002.) They share similar challenges of graying audiences and declining ad pages.

 

Parent company Meredith, which also publishers Better Homes and Gardens, posted a 37% decline in profits during its most recent quarter. Ad revenues across its national magazines fell to $112 million from $129 million the prior year.

 

 

 

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