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Memo Pad: Another One To Go… Cutting Back… Digital Push

Another day, another magazine folds. Following Time Inc.'s decision Monday to shutter Life, Meredith Corp. said Tuesday it would fold Child after the June/July issue.

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ANOTHER ONE TO GO: Another day, another magazine folds. Following Time Inc.’s decision Monday to shutter Life, Meredith Corp. said Tuesday it would fold Child after the June/July issue. But just like Ellegirl, FHM and Life, the title will live on as an online brand as part of a new parenting portal Meredith will launch this summer. Approximately 30 staffers will be laid off as a result of the closure. Meredith said another 30 staffers across the publishing division would be let go.

Meredith acquired Child along with Parents, Fitness and Family Circle from Gruner + Jahr in 2005. But the title has struggled since then, especially with the launch of a new competitor in the space, Cookie. Child’s paid and verified circulation fell 18.5 percent to 740,534 in the second half of 2006, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations; Meredith removed most newsstand copies of Child from shelves last summer. Ad pages fell 15.2 percent to 914, according to Publishers Information Bureau. Current Child subscribers will receive offers for Parents after the title folds.

Meanwhile, Cookie, owned by Condé Nast Publications (parent of WWD), will increase its rate base to 400,000 from 350,000 with the July/August issue and move to a

10-times frequency from six times next year. — Stephanie D. Smith

CUTTING BACK: More trouble at American Media Inc.: The company on Tuesday laid off 20 staffers, including 12 at celebrity weekly Star, and eight others throughout the rest of the company. Those leaving Star are said to include editor Jon Auerbach, film and TV critic Marshall Fine, two photo editors, one designer and a reporter. The layoffs are part of a strategy to shave $19 million in costs that chief executive officer David Pecker outlined as part of a conference call last month, though more cuts are not expected. “This is the second and final phase of cost reductions,” said a spokesman. — S.D.S.

DIGITAL PUSH: Time Inc. has made no secret that its future is a digital one, but on Monday finally broke out how much. John Squires, an executive vice president, said that if the company can drive its digital components, such as si.com and cnnmoney.com, to 20 to 25 percent of its bottom line, there should be no “problems” in the future. On that note, sikids.com and Fannation.com, a news site and social network for sports fans, will launch on April 16, golf.com relaunched last week, cnnmoney.com will unveil a new luxury channel on April 4 and si.com had a home page redesign in late January. Traffic is up 11 percent since the si.com redesign, said Paul Fichtenbaum, managing editor.

And, to help its Web properties provide more video content, the publishing division recently introduced Time Inc. Studios. Paul Speaker, the unit’s president, said the in-house studio will help brands with creative development and content distribution, along with providing production expertise and equipment for editors. Speaker added that more advertisers are requiring Time Inc. to include video components in its proposals. — Amy Wicks

COMING TOGETHER: Bravo’s “Top Design” will make room for two rival magazine editors to be celebrity judges. Linda O’Keeffe, Metropolitan Home’s design and architecture editor, will join Elle Decor editor in chief Margaret Russell on tonight’s show, where contestants have to design a high-end, modern hotel room at the Viceroy Hotel in Los Angeles. O’Keeffe’s appearance is ironic since Elle Decor ended up beating out Metropolitan Home and several other magazines to appear on “Top Design” as permanent judges. Clearly there are no hard feelings — Bravo and Elle Decor invited O’Keeffe onto the show because of her expertise in modern design. — S.D.S.

WATCHDOG: The New York Times will have a third public editor when Byron “Barney” Calame‘s term ends in May, a Times spokeswoman confirmed, despite Times executive editor Bill Keller’s earlier acknowledgement to the New York Observer that the future of the position was in question. The timing of the next appointment “has not yet been determined,” said the spokeswoman, but Calame’s term will not be extended.

Though some readers and Times staffers have repeatedly criticized Calame for missing the forest for the trees (in so many words and repeatedly), and Calame’s columns chronicle the tension between Keller and him, the decision to continue the public editorship comes just as Calame has been more decisive than his reputation suggests. Several Times reporters and editors favorably cited the column on whether The New York Times was slow to follow The Washington Post’s scoop over conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, as well as last Sunday’s tougher take on the Kurt Eichenwald source controversy. “There’s a broad consensus that the Eichenwald affair explains why we need an ombudsman in the first place,” said one staffer.

Calame called himself “old-fashioned” but defended himself as having “done my best.” As for who will follow him, Calame said he has “gone out of my way not to get involved” in the matter of his successor. A month ago, Calame said, he wrote Keller an e-mail asking him how to plan for continuity. Keller responded that he was weighing “the whether and the who,” in Calame’s words, and invited suggestions, though Calame demurred. His last day is May 8, and the final column will run April 22.

Candidates are usually identified and interviewed by Keller, Calame said, with Times Co. chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. making the final call. — Irin Carmon

NOT SO GLAAD: Emotions ran high at the 18th annual GLAAD Media Awards held in New York Monday night, where honorees included Tom Ford, Patti LaBelle and comedian Kate Clinton. During the opening video montage and throughout the ceremony, mentions of John Amaechi, the former professional basketball player who wrote a book about being a closeted homosexual in the NBA, and comedian Rosie O’Donnell drew cheers from the 1,600 attendees. But some public figures drew less approving gestures. Controversial political pundit Ann Coulter drew boos, and even Details editor in chief Dan Peres was heckled from the back of the room as he accepted the Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage award for Details. The heckler screamed “gay or not?!” repeatedly from his seat, distracting Peres so much that he shortened his onstage remarks. “I know that there are men out there that don’t agree with what Details stands for — gay or straight — but it’s a shame that someone had to speak up about it while I happen to be accepting an award,” Peres said later about the heckler. Meanwhile, Ford earned the Vito Russo award; LaBelle took home the Excellence in Media honor; O’Donnell and director Shari Cookson won Outstanding Documentary for “All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise,” and Tim Gunn accepted the Outstanding Reality Program award for Bravo’s “Project Runway.” — S.D.S

NEXT HURDLE: The quiet chatter surrounding the sale of Dennis Publishing may rise to a dull roar by the end of next week, after bidders make it through the second round of meetings. Although no interested parties spoke on the record, the previously reported figure of between $200 million and $250 million still appears to be a likely sale price. Private equity firms are a prime candidate to buy the publisher of Maxim, Stuff and Blender, according to sources, but recent player Ripplewood Holdings, behind the Reader’s Digest Association acquisition, said it is not interested. — A.W.

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