WEEKLY READER: News travels fast, and according to the first-half figures reported by Audit Bureau of Circulations, it seems both newsweeklies and celebrity weeklies are having trouble keeping up with the flow of information. While six-month reports in the past few years have showed skyrocketing growth for the celebrity category, the more mature titles have slowed, posting soft newsstand results for the first six months of 2007. Of those titles, People reported a 5.6 percent decline in single-copy sales, to 1.4 million, while overall circ fell 2.2 percent to 3.7 million. Its first half of 2007 compares with the year-ago period where it banked 2.3 million single copies in one week thanks to exclusive photos of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt. Us Weekly reported a 3.4 percent decline in single-copy sales, to 971,756, but a 4.8 percent growth in total circulation, to 1.8 million. And Star, which missed its 1.5 million rate base for the period by about 40,000 copies, reported a 3.5 percent dip in single-copy sales, to 726,037.
Are readers finally sick of Paris Hilton and regular rehabbers Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears? “It might be some reader fatigue,” said People managing editor Larry Hackett. “This has been one where the news stories and personalities involved started to have some of the same old, same old feel, and the likeability in some of the personalities has started to fade.” People’s top three newsstand sellers this period came thanks to non-news related established franchises — its January Half Their Size issue on weight loss sold 1.6 million copies, its annual 100 Most Beautiful People sold 1.8 million copies and the issue featuring Patrick Dempsey‘s twins sold 1.7 million issues. In addition, the rapid-paced news cycle puts all of the weeklies at a disadvantage — blogs and television news outlets can exhaust news that breaks on a Monday (like the Virginia Tech shootings) by the time the weeklies hit a few days later.
Nevertheless, the younger — and cheaper — Bauer Publishing titles still showed newsstand strength. In Touch posted 10.6 percent growth, to 1.2 million, while Life & Style reported a 6.8 increase, to 744,294. OK! reported total paid and verified circ of 809,411, a growth of 54.3 percent; newsstand increased 25.3 percent.
This story first appeared in the August 14, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The newsweeklies, which generally garner a small portion of their total circulation from single copies, reported even softer results. Newsweek reported flat total circulation growth, at 3.1 million. Time reported a 17.1 percent decline in total circulation, to 3.4 million, and single-copy sales declined 13.6 percent. The magazine underwent a major transition this winter — it pared back its rate base to 3.25 million from 4 million, bumped up the cover price to $4.95 from $3.95, and switched its publication date to Friday, a move which managing editor Richard Stengel called a “home run” in terms of subscriber satisfaction (which nevertheless is not reflected in its soft numbers). “Ninety percent of our subscription base gets it by Saturday morning,” said Stengel. But when the title was published on Monday, “people weren’t always sure of what day they got it. Now it’s a weekend magazine. They have time to read it and they spend more time with it.” Finally, figures for The New Yorker and New York prove once again that there’s little correlation between ASME awards and better circulation performance. The New Yorker reported a slight increase in total circulation, at 1.1 million. New York, meanwhile, reported a 1.4 percent decline in total circulation. — Stephanie D. Smith
NOT IN VOGUE: Men’s Vogue has lost two top members of its visual team: creative director Russell Labosky and photo editor Mark Jacobson. A spokeswoman for the magazine said the two had left “to pursue other interests,” and that the magazine was interviewing successors. — Irin Carmon
CELEBRITY JOURNAL: It’s been six months since The Wall Street Journal launched its “Every journey needs a Journal” ad campaign — its first in 10 years — featuring celebrities, and notably liberal ones at that, such as Sheryl Crow and Susan Sarandon. But readers apparently haven’t seen their last celebrity Journal endorsement. More “waves” of the brand campaign are in the works, with Wynton Marsalis rumored to be among the next up, although a spokesman couldn’t confirm which notable name will be next. Could it be someone from the Rupert Murdoch side of the political spectrum? The embattled Karl Rove perhaps? After all, Rove did talk at length to The Journal’s editorial page editor Paul Gigot about his plans to resign from the White House in a piece that ran on Monday. Either way, it looks like Platon, who has shot the campaign so far, will continue on as photographer for the foreseeable future. — Amy Wicks