PUT ON RESTRICTION: And then there were three.
The teen magazine category shrank for the second time this year on Tuesday when Time Inc. said it would shutter the print edition of Teen People, turning the brand into a Web-only enterprise. Staffers were told at a 4 p.m. meeting, led by People Group editor Martha Nelson, People Group execs David Geithner and Paul Caine and Time Inc.’s co-chief operating officer Nora McAniff.
The company’s decision to suspend Teen People mirrored a move by Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. in April to fold Ellegirl, but keep Ellegirl.com alive. The three largest remaining print teens are Seventeen, Cosmogirl and Teen Vogue.
“It’s not surprising they would do this,” a high-level teen source said of Teen People’s closure. “Their newsstand was really pink in the first half.”
That would make the third dip in as many periods for the title, thanks to consecutive slides in 2005, when single-copy sales were down 15.8 percent to 350,610 copies and 11.8 percent to 390,900 for the first and second halves, respectively.
Teen People’s advertising picture hasn’t been any brighter lately, either. Ad pages were down 13.6 percent through September 2006, to 522.3 pages.
Nevertheless, the magazine known for splashing boy bands and pop tarts on covers has long been a favored child within Time Inc. The title’s explosive launch in 1998 ushered in a boom era for the teen category, leading to the spin-offs of Ellegirl, Cosmogirl and Teen Vogue. And in 2001, Teen People surprised the industry by winning a National Magazine Award for general excellence.
Many media-watchers believed that such a storied history would buy managing editor Lori Majewski, who was hired less than a year ago, more time to revive the flagging title. Since her arrival, Majewski has expanded fashion and beauty coverage, and Time Inc. executives were said to be pleased with the new look of the magazine.
“I don’t think they let this go lightly,” a Time Inc. source said. “I can’t imagine it didn’t hurt [chief executive officer] Ann [Moore] to do this. It’s got to have hurt Martha too, because she was put in charge of it….I think it was just a business decision. It didn’t make sense financially anymore.”
While the disappearance of Ellegirl and now Teen People would seem to spell doom for the category, Teen Vogue associate publisher of marketing Jane Grenier said she wasn’t troubled by the closures. “Girls love the Internet, and they love magazines,” she said. “But they love them for different reasons….It’s about relevance. We couldn’t be feeling better about our business.”
Grenier added, “It’s always sad when people lose their jobs….But their numbers have been telling the story for some time now.”
With the closing of Teen People, about 50 editorial and business people will be cut from the payroll, according to a Time Inc. spokeswoman. The magazine’s Web employees have been retained, and the spokeswoman said efforts were being made to place other employees within the company. Majewski’s fate and that of publisher Gregg Hano were still unclear as of Tuesday night.
— Sara James and Irin Carmon
MAGIC FINGERS: Sometimes, things are exactly as they seem. Case in point: Jeffrey Epstein.
On Tuesday, Page Six reported the enigmatic money manager was charged in Florida over the weekend with trying to get a happy ending from a masseuse. Epstein, who recently funded Radar Magazine and tried to buy New York Magazine, is often seen at events squiring two, sometimes even three, models a night. As for his private plane, one person who’s spent time on it calls it “sybaritic.”
“I put my head in the bedroom and withdrew it immediately almost out of embarrassment. But I am left with two impressions: the fur throws and the mirrors. It’s 100 percent Playboy,” the source said.
And how did Epstein refer to his companions who may or may not have joined him there? “‘My petting zoo,'” the source reported.
— Jacob Bernstein