I will not apologize for that line. This is just a pathetic attempt to play the "magazines are alive" card.
The Reaper is looking at dead magazines walking and the ones with lipstick on the covers have been taking their lumps. I'm not worried about them now. I'm saving them for down the road. I'm looking at some other titles we all know and love which are stagging their way through the early fall and may be knocking on the Reaper's door by Christmas.
You talk political candidates? I talk candidates for that great big recycling center in the sky. Let's check in on our usual suspects...
- POWER & MOTORYACHT, MOTOR BOATING, BOATING: These three have some real problems. While year to year double digit ad decreases is out of whack these days, the boating industry is being smacked two ways, high gas prices and crummy economy. Back in January, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) said registrations for new powerboats fell 3 percent in the third quarter of 2007 and 7 percent year-to-date (YTD) through September 2007. One of these titles is going to Davy Jones' Locker in the near future, and trust the Reaper, he won't be singing Daydream Believer.
- BLENDER: The September issue, which is supposed to be your big back to school vehicle, was down almost 30% in ad pages. What Kent Brownridge spent the year doing for investors The Quadrangle Group was "not OK," hiring a new publisher from Reader's Digest who doesn't know his iPod from his eyewash. Alpha Digital has put all its digital eggs in the Maxim basket, leaving Blender missing golden opportunities. I don't know how everybody gave Brownridge a free pass after this one.
- RADAR: Earlier this year, founder Maer Roshan said they had enough money to publish one more year, which is probably why they're still carrying the same flimsy amount of ads after reviving itself almost a year and a half ago. The buzz is long dead and gone. They even had the bad luck of hosting a movie screening the same night as Obama's acceptance speech. Now how would Ron Burkle feel about that? It's time for Yusef Jackson to stick with his core competency, selling beer.
- PORTFOLIO: The usual pulse check at Si's and David's folly is feeble. Last September's issue was 122 ad pages, and this year it's, gulp, 45! I've said this many times that when the readers don't stick around or aren't there, the advertisers will desert the ship. This is Cargo redux. When fellow Conde Nast publication Brides magazine gets more buzz than you, it's time to cut your losses.
- KIPLINGERS PERSONAL FINANCE VS. SMARTMONEY: One magazine for the AARP set, the other with the bloom long off its rose. SmartMoney has a super web site with clever widgets and tools that it licenses out. Kiplingers has, well, you can read Knight Kiplinger's defense from back in June here. Maybe his magazine is being propped up by his newsletters, but Kiplingers Personal Finance smells like the US News & World Report of personal finance magazines to me.
- DOUBLEDOWN MEDIA: Some of my neighbors down here say the financial services industry is not a good place to be these days. Lehman lost half its Wall Street value yesterday. None of this bodes well for Mr. Randall Lane and Mr. Jim Dunning.
- ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Like Radar, works best as a web site. Publisher Scott Donaton is not going to be on Folio's "do-ers" list next year, unfortunately.
- TIME VS. NEWSWEEK VS. US NEWS & WORLD REPORT: US News should just fold shop and become the JD Power of colleges. Time's editorial shift is not making them any advertising world friends. One may not be dead by Christmas, but it's not too far off.
- NICKELODEON: I keep bring this one up because it has to go down. Disney closed its kids magazines and Viacom would be smart to put a fork in theirs.
Magazines which will live to see another day:
- MONEY: Can't kill the 800 pound gorilla of personal finance, especially when it's backed up by one of the most visited financial portals on the web.
- FAST COMPANY: Yes, the Reaper is filing this in the "Close, But No Cigar" category. Somebody should give Mansueto Ventures an award for pulling a baby out of the fire with this one-time high flier. Internet start-ups can't help reading about themselves.
- SPORTING NEWS: The biggest "if." They spent a lot of money on launching, marketing and promoting their daily e-mail sports newsletter this past summer, banking on the ads in that making up for their losses in the print title. It's far too early to tell if this strategy is catching on, but the Reaper will be watching.