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Photo-heavy Magazines Suffering from Economy


Ad revenue for magazines has plummeted in the past year across the nation, affecting both small publications and large media corporations. Coupled with decreased print readership, this shift in magazine trends equates to layoffs, fewer pages, mergers and closures.

According to Mediaweek Monitor, the hardest hit publications are photo-centric magazines such as American Photo, with a 59 percent difference in ad pages from the same time last January; Skiing, with a 51 percent decrease; and Travel + Leisure, with a 43 percent drop. Also, travel and wealth publications have both seen a 33 percent loss of ad space overall, followed by the enthusiast category — including photography and sports publications — with an 18 percent drop.

Victor Navasky, former editor of The Nation and The New York Times magazines, sees the most troubled magazines as the print publications that rely the most heavily on advertising, since advertisers are now mostly focusing on online publications.

Navasky, however, does not believe layoffs are the solution. Ultimately, I think the solution for publications is to grow into profitability and/or to partner with organically connected money-making enterprises, he told PhotoMedia. Now is the time for magazines to work out a business model as a hybrid with its cyber-space counterpart.

Time Inc., which eliminated 600 jobs, or 6 percent of its workforce, last year, will lay off another 500 employees in 2010 as part of an effort to cut $100 million in costs. Most of the reductions are expected to come from magazines like Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money, followed by reductions in the Lifestyle and Entertainment groups.

Other notable changes in publishing houses include downsizing at German photo essay magazine GEO, which closed its New York office in November; tightening in the photo department at Newsweek, which let go of several photo staffers and their director of photography at the end of 2009 when they decided to focus more on columns and essays; and a merger at Playboy Enterprises, which was bought out by American Media, Inc.