THE FIRST HALF BLUES: The Publishers Information Bureau reported first half advertising and paging figures on Friday and, as expected, both categories are down significantly. Total ad revenue during the period fell 21 percent, to an estimated $9.1 billion (assuming no discounting) against the previous year and pages were down 28 percent to 79,245. Fashion and beauty titles were hit hard, particularly those trading heavily in the luxury sector. W’s ad pages were down 44 percent to 491, while Town & Country fell 43 percent to 429 pages and Allure dropped 32 percent to 501. Vogue wasn’t far behind, down 31 percent to 916 pages, followed by Lucky, which fell 30 percent to 506 pages. Harper’s Bazaar was down 27 percent to 645 pages. Time Inc.’s In Style posted a decline of 26 percent, to 1,005 pages, and Elle dropped 24 percent to 889 pages. Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire all posted roughly 20 percent declines, to 688 pages, 633 pages and 479 pages, respectively.
PIB reported the sectors most severely affected by the economic downturn, including automotive, retail and finance, also posted the greatest declines in ad revenue and paging. As for the bright spots, there were a few within larger ad categories: Under “toiletries and cosmetics,” hair accessories and men’s hygienic products showed an uptick in spending and pages; culinary ingredients and seasonings, as well as confectionery and snacks under “food and food products” provided some relief.
This story first appeared in the July 13, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
— Amy Wicks
KUSHNER’S OBSERVATIONS: New York Observer owner and real estate scion Jared Kushner has mostly stayed on message since the June 1 exit of editor in chief Peter Kaplan and the subsequent layoffs of a third of the newsroom, but in a profile in this week’s New York magazine, he is considerably blunter. “I found the paper unbearable to read; it was like homework,” he told Gabriel Sherman, who was a reporter for the paper until shortly before Kushner bought it in 2006. The story has a lot of juicy detail on Kushner’s family dramas — including Kushner’s father, Charles, hiring a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and sending a tape to his sister — but also describes the tension between Kushner and Kaplan’s visions for the Observer. Kushner recalls telling his newly hired ceo, “No one would believe what was going on [at the paper] if I tried to explain it. We called it ‘Weekend at Bernie’s,’ because it was like dead people walking around.” To Observer staffers, Kushner said, “Kaplan is a classy guy, but he’s old school. If we were doing our jobs right, Gawker wouldn’t have a reason to exist. Curbed wouldn’t have a reason to exist.”
New York had previously assigned a profile of Kushner a couple of years ago, to Isaiah Wilner, but the story never ran. Kushner has been known to confound reporters and editors with bland pleasantries, maintaining public relations speak even off the record.
Although The Observer has helped transform him into a bold-faced name, showing up in press releases and appearing on the red carpet with fiancée Ivanka Trump, Kushner admits he was blindsided by the scrutiny that came with owning a newspaper, as well as by the timing. He told New York, “I didn’t expect to be walking into this at the worst time to be buying newspapers.”
— Irin Carmon
TABLOID TRAUMA: Rupert Murdoch’s News International is blasting back at London’s Guardian — and as far as the police are concerned, the case is closed. Last week, the Guardian stirred a media blitz, charging the News of the World tabloid, part of News International, with “criminal methods” in asking private investigators to hack the cell phones or illegally obtain the personal details of scores of celebrities and political figures. But London’s Metropolitan Police said last week they won’t take the matter further. The department’s assistant commissioner, John Yates, said “no additional evidence has come to light since the case has concluded….I therefore consider no further investigation is required.” For its part, News International on Friday issued a lengthy denial to the allegations, stating, “all of these irresponsible and unsubstantiated allegations against News of the World and other News International titles and its journalists are false.”
The allegations are linked to a 2007 legal case, when the News of the World’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, along with a private investigator, was jailed in London for intercepting Prince William’s voice-mail messages. News International had said at the time that Goodman was the only journalist who had hacked into phone messages to obtain stories.
— Nina Jones