Conde Nast: Flushing brides, extra food
Your Reuters media writers got a little flushed on Monday morning when we saw that Conde Nast was going to close some magazines. Would we see The New Yorker and Vanity Fair pulped? No such luck for us vultures who were craving a big murder-in-the-first-degree story. This appears to be more of a mercy killing.
Instead, here’s what we get:
- Consolidation in the bridal business. No more Modern Bride, no more Elegant Bride. Instead, we get a monthly edition of Brides magazine, the kind of phonebook-sized tome that it seems will pay for itself. After all, people love to get married, and many these days like to do it twice.
- Calorie cutting in the food format: Gourmet magazine gets purged, while the brand lives on. Or, as Media Memo’s Peter Kafka put it, it survives “Zombie-like” on TV and the Internet. Bon Appetit survives, meanwhile.
- Speaking of food, no more Cookies. Cookie magazine, the “stylish parenting magazine for the new mom,” dies. So much for news-you-can-use stories like “Parents and pot: Do you think it’s okay to smoke weed at a play date?”
Stephanie Clifford of The New York Times got an interview with Conde Nast CEO Chuck Townsend, who gave her the details of how this is going down. Since we’re not sure if Chuck will have time for us today (we’re hoping the phone rings presently), here’s what he said:
None of the about 180 employees of the magazines, including the Gourmet editor-in-chief, Ruth Reichl, are expected to stay with the company… The employees will receive severance packages this week and be out by the end of the week.
Other layoffs may be in the works. Mr. Townsend has asked editors and publishers of each magazine to meet certain budgets, and the executives can choose whether to lay off staff to get there. The executives’ plans are due in 10 days, Mr. Townsend said, and all layoffs should be completed by the end of the year.
This is it for magazine closures, he said, although he said three or four magazines were considering reducing their frequency.
“These businesses should be 25 percent net margin businesses,” he said. “We have had some underperformers, but not businesses that have cost us money to run except for launches and businesses like Gourmet that, with the economy, have slipped into the red.”
It would be nice to think that this is the end of the pain at Conde Nast, which already dumped Portfolio and home decor title Domino (the demise of the latter aroused much more indignation among Media File readers than I suspected it would), but it probably isn’t. Conde (our neighbor across the street in Times Square) is a publishing house full of big expense accounts and bigger reputations. It likely will do its best to protect marquee names such as The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, but some recent college graduate working for McKinsey as an expert consultant will figure out before too long that writing about expensive lifestyles can be done for less money. That’s something that your stylish but frugal Media File reporters have known for years.
(Reuters Photo: This is our favorite Vanity Fair magazine edition because it features Reuters founder Paul Julius Reuter, described in this 1872 profile as a man of “power and great wealth, possessing a fine house and wife and always ready to show a magnificent hospitality.”)