IN THE ROUGH: In another sign that business is getting brutal for magazine publishers in the current economy downturn, Condé Nast on Monday announced it is folding Golf for Women as of its July /August issue, already on newsstands. The news came just hours after Hearst Magazines said it had hired Golf for Women’s editor in chief, Susan Reed, to become the next editor in chief of O, The Oprah Magazine.
“We came to this decision because we feel the magazine will not support our long-term business objectives,” said Charles Townsend, president & chief executive officer of Condé Nast Publications in a statement on the closure.
Sources close to the situation said that Reed was courted by Hearst for several weeks about the O magazine job, and gave her notice to Condé higher-ups today. Reed will succeed Amy Gross, who is retiring, and will assume her new role July 29. Reed had been editor in chief of Golf for Women since 2002; prior to that she was a senior literary agent at IMG Literary, a features editor of Condé Nast’s Women’s Sports & Fitness, and a senior writer at People.
Upon learning of Reed’s departure, Condé executives considered replacing her but instead decided to fold the magazine entirely, according to sources. Condé Nast chief operating officer John Bellando and executive vice president, human resources Jill Bright broke the news to the Golf for Women staff late Monday afternoon. Townsend and group president David Carey, who oversees the Golf Digest properties, were both out of the office yesterday. About 30 people will be affected by the closure; those that are not placed within the company will depart by early next week.
According to sources who attended the meeting, Bellando said that the magazine had the support from endemic golf-related advertisers, but non-endemic advertisers such as beauty, fashion and automotive didn’t come around. Through the July/August issue, Golf for Women ad pages declined 7 percent, to 336 pages.
Golf for Women was launched in 1988, and Condé Nast purchased the magazine in 2001 from Meredith Corporation. The title published six issues a year and had a circulation of 600,000. — Stephanie D. Smith
RUNNING FOR COVER: Vogue is already getting publicity on its September cover thanks to photographer Mario Testino, who shot Keira Knightley for the issue. Testino kept a three-week diary of his life as a jet-setting fashion photographer for The Independent, reporting from behind the scenes at the Vogue shoot and, in the process, spilling the beans about the cover subject. “The idea is that Keira comes to be inspired by the Berlin arts scene,” he wrote. “Instead of galleries, I did it around artists’ studios: people such as Daniel Richter, Thomas Schütte, Andreas Hofer, Thomas Zipp, Thomas Helbig. They all made themselves available and the contrast between Keira and them was quite interesting. She’d never heard of any of them! It’s funny how little the art world crosses over with the film world.”
But while such press on the September cover may build reader anticipation for the issue, Vogue’s spring issues may have disproven the adage that any publicity is good publicity. Vogue’s April shape issue cover showed a hulking LeBron James holding a wispy Gisele Bündchen by the waist and stirred up controversy in the blogosphere and other media outlets over whether or not the photo played off of racially degrading King Kong-like images of African-American men. Meanwhile, Vogue’s May cover was bruised in the blogosphere for what seemed to be an overzealous use of Photoshop to make Gwyneth Paltrow’s body look robotic. But the chatter from critics didn’t spark enough curiosity to boost newsstand sales — in an otherwise difficult climate for most magazines. According to figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ Rapid Report, the LeBron/Gisele issue sold 350,000 issues on newsstands, about 100,000 copies fewer than the April 2007 issue, which featured Scarlett Johansson on the cover. The Gwyneth issue moved 310,000 copies on newsstands, compared with last May’s 355,000 copies, which featured the “World’s Next Top Models” on the cover wearing Gap t-shirts.
— S.D.S. and Amy Wicks
CHURCHSTATE: Magazine advertisers often bend and blur editorial lines, whether it’s a supplement, special section or “advertorial.” But where, exactly, are the lines on the Internet, assuming there are lines at all? The ground rules are often nonexistent, especially on blogs. And advertisers are scrambling to come up with innovative ways to attract attention, which has led former Life & Style editor in chief Mark Pasetsky, now the editorial director and publisher of Tecktonik Media, to take on a new approach to blog advertising he’s calling “Direct Blog Ads.”
On his three blogs about young Hollywood, the media industry and today’s hottest gay and lesbian stars, Pasetsky will offer an option to advertisers that combines traditional blog posts with ads. To blur the lines even further, these paid postings will follow each site’s existing blog format, although he said each post will be clearly marked as an ad, so visitors will apparently know the difference.
“We’ll even provide commentary for it,” he added. So, could it be that editors will have license to actually write snarky things about their advertisers? Possibly. Pasetsky predicted that many advertisers won’t mind a little tweaking on the “blog ads,” since it could ramp up interest. “We’ve done a few tests under the radar,” he said, adding the company is in active discussions with advertisers. As for pricing, he declined to provide specific figures, only noting that it will be based on a “premium CPM model.” — A.W.