The publisher confirmed the news and said it would continue operating Self.com, and that executive digital director Carolyn Klystra would be named editor in chief. The closure entails roughly 20 job cuts, including the termination of Self editor in chief Joyce Chang, who was brought on in 2014 to succeed the ousted Lucy Danziger. At the time, Chang was said to have signed a three-year contract, which is set to expire.
Condé said Self’s regular print production will end with its February issue. In the future, the glossy will publish special print editions around multiple health and wellness-related moments.
Self has been slowly slimming down since last fall when it folded its advertising team into Glamour’s business division. It continued to de-layer over the summer when the title continued to combine social and editorial teams with Glamour.
Last year around this time, Condé Nast had been toying with various scenarios, such as folding Self or Details. It opted to shutter Details. There had also been buzz of closing Teen Vogue in print — a persistent rumor that hasn’t fully materialized. (Instead, the company recently decided to cut the magazine’s frequency to four issues a year from nine, months after it moved editor in chief Amy Astley to Architectural Digest.)
After a few redesigns and a reduction in frequency from 12 to 10, Self was unable to move the needle much in terms of sales. According to the Alliance for Audited Media, the magazine’s total paid and verified circulation hovered around just under 1.5 million with single-copy sales around 44,000 in the first half of 2016. Before Chang joined Self, circulation in 2014 was just more than 1.5 million with total-single copy sales reaching 148,055. Nonetheless, it’s nearly impossible for any editor to reverse the changes taking place in print today. In order to salvage the title, Condé focused on digital, and it hired Kylstra, an editor from Buzzfeed and site director of Women’s Health. Under her stewardship, she’s been able to grow traffic to a high of 5.1 million uniques in September, according to comScore.
Artistic director Anna Wintour underscored the importance of digital and wellness as a category to the company, offering: “Audiences are more discerning than ever about how they live, and in Self, we have a popular and established brand that speaks directly to the burgeoning health and wellness movement. Carolyn has played a pivotal role in refining and focusing Self and understands how to create content that excites and inspires our audiences.”
The Self news comes as employees at Condé Nast brace for layoffs beginning this week. Insiders said the bulk of the job cuts would take place around the new year, as Jim Norton, who recently joined the company as chief business officer and president of revenue, reshapes the business side. It is also believed that further job cuts will come after Condé’s recent announcement that it would combine the creative, research and copy teams across the company. As a result, magazines will share creative directors, copy editors and researchers. (The New Yorker will retain some research and copy editors.) Those specific layoffs are likely to be part of a larger change, which will also include a reorganization of the business side.
On a larger scale, the New York-based publisher, under chief executive officer Bob Sauerberg, is being streamlined so that he only has a handful of direct reports. They include artistic director Wintour; David Geithner, chief financial officer; Norton; Dawn Ostroff, president of Condé Nast Entertainment; Fred Santarpia, chief digital officer; JoAnn Murray, chief human resources officer, and Cameron Blanchard, chief communications officer.
Although it may be a subtle change, now employees, depending on their department, report in to those executives. For instance, publishers and marketers report to Norton, digital staff reports to Santarpia, communications teams report to Blanchard and editors report to Wintour.
Condé declined to elaborate when asked if Wintour oversees the more prominent editors in chief, such as Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter and The New Yorker’s David Remnick, who long have insisted on their independence and reported first into S.I. Newhouse Jr. and later to then-chairman Charles Townsend, who is retiring at the end of the year.