NEW YORK (REUTERS) — U.S. magazine powerhouse Conde Nast will cease publication of Mademoiselle, the women’s fashion and lifestyle magazine that has been battered by a weak advertising climate that worsened after the Sept. 11 attacks, a company spokeswoman said on Monday.
In an internal memo obtained by Reuters, Steve Florio, president and chief executive of Conde Nast, owned by privately held Advance Publications, told staffers that “the magazine is no longer viable,” citing current economic conditions.
Industry observers said the 66-year-old magazine hasn’t made money for years, and ad pages were down nearly 18 percent for the first eight months of the year while relatively new women’s title
Jane magazine, also published by Advance through Fairchild Publications, saw ad pages climb 12 percent.
“Companies like Conde Nast are placing bets on magazines that really have big growth potential. A lot of what’s going on now is shooting the wounded,” said Abe Peck, chairman of the magazine program at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. “It’s zero tolerance right now, especially because the company has a couple other titles [in the group].”
Publishers have been reeling from a decline in advertising spending, which has dried up in the weakening economy. The Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have exacerbated the situation, pinching revenues further at already battered media companies.
Several media and entertainment groups, including AOL Time Warner Inc. and Viacom Inc. have warned that profits will decline because of the economic slowdown and the attacks.
“Mademoiselle was having a weak year, but once the Sept. 11 disasters took place, we had to make some very difficult economic decisions,” said company spokeswoman Maurie Perl.
The November issue will be Mademoiselle’s last, the company said.
“We expect, as with most businesses, it will be a difficult fourth quarter, and we forecast it will be a difficult business year in 2002, which caused us to make some very difficult but final decisions with Mademoiselle,” she added.
The magazine’s Editor in Chief Mandi Norwood, who was lured away from Hearst Corp. to lead the magazine about two years ago, and publisher Lori Burgess, who joined in late 1999, will leave the company, Perl said.
Conde Nast will try to place as many of the magazine’s 93-person staff within the company, and those who are not placed will leave Friday with severance pay, she added.
Some industry watchers said Glamour magazine, another title under the Conde Nast umbrella, may be one of the benefactors of the Mademoiselle closing.
The publisher said Mademoiselle subscribers will begin receiving Glamour beginning with the January 2002 issue.
Conde Nast, which is also home to Wired, Vogue and The New Yorker, is a unit of Advance Publications, which is owned by the Newhouse family.
NO SURPRISE TO MANY IN INDUSTRY
“I’m not surprised. There have been rumblings about this for a long time,” said one Conde Nast staffer, who declined to be identified. “It’s a shame. It’s kind of sad because it’s been around for so long.”
Several high-profile magazines have folded in recent months, including The Industry Standard, which tracked the Internet economy.
Many more have become thinner in the wake of the ad slowdown.
Women’s magazines have seen their share of volatility in the last year, with titles such as Working Woman folding and McCall’s joining forces with new title Rosie.
“There just isn’t enough fashion and beauty advertising, and there hasn’t been pre-World Trade Center and pre-recession, to fill up all the magazines that aspired to it,” said Victor Navasky, journalism professor at Columbia University.
Mademoiselle was struggling before the recent downturn. Peck noted that the magazine’s circulation has seen little growth in the last five years, holding steady near slightly more than one million.
Mademoiselle was often seen by industry watchers as one of the smaller fish in a big pond, coming in third in terms of circulation and ad dollars behind sister publication Glamour and Hearst’s Cosmopolitan.
“To be steady is seen as moving backward, and here they have a downturn and have been hit by a down market,” Peck said.
Conde Nast, like its publishing peers, has been evaluating its titles in the wake of the slowdown. Perl said no other magazines were at risk of being closed. Last year, it shut Women’s Sports & Fitness and Details, which was later relaunched by Fairchild Publications.
Other sectors of the magazine industry that could see some shakeout in the wake of the economic slowdown and the recent attacks include travel publications, both trade and consumer titles, Peck said.