InStyle editor in chief Laura Brown is departing the glossy women’s fashion magazine as its new owner ends its 27-year-long print run.
Barry Diller’s media company Dotdash Meredith, which purchased Meredith last year for $2.7 billion, told staffers Wednesday that six of the magazines it acquired — InStyle, Entertainment Weekly, EatingWell, Health, Parents and People en Español — would become digital-only publications. The move will result in about 200 job losses and WWD has learned from multiple sources that includes Brown, the editor in chief of InStyle since 2016. It’s also understood that some of the company’s highest paid publishers are exiting.
A spokeswoman for Dotdash Meredith confirmed that Brown is no longer with the company. “We can confirm Laura Brown’s position as editor in chief of InStyle’s print magazine has been eliminated. Laura has been an inspiring leader and integral to defining InStyle’s vision. She has left an indelible mark on the brand and has been central to making InStyle the influential voice it is today.”
Earlier in the day, Dotdash Meredith chief executive officer Neil Vogel told staffers: “This is an important step in the evolution of Dotdash Meredith, and I want to be clear with everyone about what we are doing and what is ahead. We have said from the beginning, buying Meredith was about buying brands, not magazines or websites. It is not news to anyone that there has been a pronounced shift in readership and advertising from print to digital, and as a result, for a few important brands, print is no longer serving the brand’s core purpose. As such, we are going to move to a digital-only future for these brands, which will help us to unlock their full potential.”
He added that while “naysayers will interpret this as another nail in print’s coffin, they couldn’t be more wrong…from People to BHG to Southern Living to Wood, and all our other beloved print publications, we continue to provide incredible value to readers in print and we will proudly print over 350 million magazines in 2022.” For those magazines staying in print, it plans to enhance paper quality, trim sizes, and elevate photography.
It was widely expected that the acquisition would result in reduced print, with the word “digital” being used 23 times in the original press release announcing the sale. In contrast, “print” was used just twice and one of those mentions was to point out that Meredith’s digital ad revenue had already surpassed its print ad revenue for the last three quarters.
Print magazines, an area already struggling before the pandemic, have taken a big hit in recent years. Earlier this week Cosmopolitan revealed that beginning this year it will print eight themed issues, each dedicated to a different subject and numbered rather than tied to a specific month. In 2019, it published 12 issues, then 10 in 2020 when the pandemic began, and nine in 2021. Marie Claire, which Hearst sold to Future, is now publishing just two print issues a year, while WSJ., the luxury fashion and culture insert of The Wall Street Journal, cut frequency from 12 issues to eight in 2021 with a renewed focus on digital platforms.
InStyle was the only women’s fashion magazine that stuck to 12 print issues during 2020 and in her latest editor’s letter editor in chief Laura Brown ran a picture of every cover and thanked her team for their hard work. It’s not known if she knew then that InStyle print’s run was coming to an end.
“I am running a picture of every cover we published since COVID[-19], starting with our May 2020 issue. There are 84 in total — including both newsstand and subscriber covers. Dr. M. Jana Broadhurst appeared on the June 2020 cover, when we celebrated the medical workers keeping us safe. Dr. Anthony Fauci followed in September alongside a much-needed flight-of-fancy cover with Zendaya and ‘They love NY,’ an ode to community inspired by Gigli’s Girls in the Windows,” Brown said in her editor’s letter.
On InStyle, a spokeswoman for Dotdash Meredith said: “InStyle has become one of our most vibrant digital properties, seeing online growth of more than 40 percent year-over-year. InStyle will continue to grow and thrive online, benefit from the big investments we are making across all of our brands in 2022.”
FOR MORE, SEE: