This morning, magazine giant Condé Nast announced
it would be shutting down Gourmet, Cookie, Modern Bride and Elegant
Bride. Closing publications is nothing new in this dismal media
economy, but Condé Nast's decision to shutter upscale Gourmet over Bon
Appétit, a similar magazine with less prestige and lower operating
costs, drew gasps of shock across the media world. Has Condé Nast, long
the gilded Mecca of magazine journalism, abandoned the
spare-no-expenses approach that symbolized the glamor, and sometimes
the decadence, of magazines?
- 'Profits-Over-Prestige' Felix Salmon asks, "Is this profits-over-prestige decision the real end of Conde culture?" Salmon sighs, "I guess this is what you pay McKinsey for: the decision to axe Gourmet rather than Bon Appetit. Ouch." Richard Florida answers, "Managing this tension between profits and prestige, $$$ and reputation seems to sit at the core of most creative businesses."
- Decline of Serious Culinary Writing? Gabriella Gershenson laments the post-Gourmet food world, dominated by reality TV. "What will young people today who love food aspire to? Cheaply won celebrity chefdom? Dumbed-down cable programming? Blogs that feed off of restaurant gossip rather than a love of food and the people behind it?" she asks. "There's good stuff still out there--Saveur, The Art of Eating, Art Culinaire, the Edible magazines--and I hope the existing titles find a way to survive and flourish. I am also sure I am not alone in feeling bleak about what motivates some of the more popular food content these days."
- Not Necessarily The End for Gourmet The Atlantic's Corby Kummer, in a heartfelt eulogy, explains
that Gourmet may have a second life. "I refuse to believe that the
magazine will be gone long. I'm an optimist. Conde Nast closed and then
brought back House and Garden, another venerable title, and even if that folded again I choose to think that Gourmet, which like the recently closed Portfolio will apparently live on on the Web (I hope with Estabrook and Shapiro!), will reappear in print, too."
- Strategy Shift for Media Empire The New York Times's Stephanie Clifford explains the surprise over 69-year-old Gourmet's end. "The moves are significant for the publisher. It has never been quick
to close titles, and in the last year or so has closed only newer
titles, Condé Nast Portfolio and Domino, along with folding Men's Vogue
Condé Nast tends to hold tight to its prestigious titles, making the
Gourmet closing all the more startling. In an interview in February,
even Paul Jowdy, publisher of the in-house rival Bon Appétit, said that
such a closing was unlikely."
- Blame McKinsey for Financial Focus Gawker's Hamilton Nolan points to
McKinsey, the consulting giant Condé brought in to help cut costs.
"This, then, is the fallout from McKinsey. The company had floated the
idea that its turnaround could be accomplished without any magazines
going under," he writes, "but that was always impractical. Gourmet and
Bon Appetit both had horrific recent ad declines; it was logical that
one of them would go." Greg Mitchell thinks this demonstrates that newspapers are not the worst off in the media today. " As I've long warned: Mag biz in worse shape than newspapers."
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