Raising a glass

I raised a glass to the sad demise of eight former ACP Magazines titles last night with some of my ex-publishing colleagues.

The magazines were Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, InStyle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, NW and OK.

I can’t believe so many iconic titles are gone.

Mumbrella’s Tim Burrowes has written a scathing assessment of how it all came about in an article called “Good riddance to the Bauers, the family that wrecked Australia’s magazine industry”.

Ouch!

At one point he noted: “When the COVID emergency led Bauer to suspend the magazine titles back in April, around 70 staff were made redundant and a similar number stood down.

“At the time, few believed that the titles would come back, and others suspected the reason for suspending rather than closing was a cynical one.

“Bauer told those stood down staff that it was unable to get them the government’s JobKeeper payments – the German parent company was either unwilling or unable to prove its revenues had fallen sufficiently for them to qualify.

It left those staff in a horrible limbo – without income but still technically employed.

“The staff faced a dilemma – resign to try to access JobSeeker payments, or hang on in the hopes of a redundancy payout.

“Now though, the Bauer family has left the building. The company is now in the hands of private equity firm Mercury Capital.

“The sale was completed on Friday. And the first priority for the new owners was to do the humane thing and put the stood down staff out of their misery. I wonder how much the Bauers saved on the redundancy payments.”

Double ouch!

There’s no doubt the magazine industry is in serious trouble, but surely some of those titles could have been saved. In the US, for example, InStyle has become a force of nature under its Aussie editor Laura Brown. In 2019 it had a print readership of 7.3 million and a digital reach of 8.5 million.

I asked Laura to be my deputy editor on Woman’s Day once upon a time … and she politely turned me down. Laura always knew she was destined for bigger things than weekly mags. Last year she was named 2019 Australian Fashion Laureate, an award that celebrates individuals who have made a significant contribution to the growth, development and global promotion of the Australian fashion industry.

She’s also besties with half of Hollywood – her Instagram account is out of this world.

It seems implausible to me that such a successful title, with an incredibly talented Aussie reinventing it overseas, should need to shutter here.

It’s a tough time for magazine journalists and designers, as they face the ever-increasing threat of redundancy. It’s not much easier for their compatriots in newspapers. I keep wondering if there will come a point when people realise how important it is to have talented journos out there reporting on current events and writing insightful features.

Maybe not. People believe anything they read on the internet these days. It’s alarming.

On a happier note, it was lovely to catch up with my former magazine friends after a COVID-19 hiatus.

We were all a bit nervous about being out and lots of hand was involved, but it was good to have a laugh together and share stories.

Song of the day: Elton John “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”

 

 

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