Au Revoir Mademoiselle

"Great American Vacation" in Niagara Falls, July 2007 CBS/Jack Halsbond

U.S. magazine powerhouse Conde Nast will cease publication of Mademoiselle, the women's fashion and lifestyle magazine that has been battered by a weak advertising climate that worsened after the Sept. 11 attacks, a company spokeswoman said Monday.

Industry observers said the 66-year-old magazine hasn't made money for years, and ad pages were down nearly 18 percent for the first eight months of the year.

"Unfortunately, current economic conditions have produced a situation where ... the magazine is no longer viable," Steven T. Florio, president of Conde Nast Publications Inc., said in a statement.

The November issue of Mademoiselle, which is due on newsstands next week, will be its last. The 1.1 million subscribers to Mademoiselle will begin receiving Glamour magazine, another Conde Nast publication, instead.

Some of the magazine's 93 employees may get jobs in other parts of the company, said spokeswoman Maurie Perl. Those who are not placed will leave with severance pay on Friday, she added.

Publishers have watched ad spending dry up in the weakening economy. The Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon exacerbated the situation, pinching revenues further at many magazines.

Several media and entertainment groups, including AOL Time Warner Inc. and Viacom Inc. have warned that profits will decline because of the economy and the attacks.

"Mademoiselle was having a weak year, but once the Sept. 11 disasters took place, we had to make some very difficult economic decisions," Perl said.

"We expect, as with most businesses, it will be a difficult fourth quarter, and we forecast it will be a difficult business year in 2002, which caused us to make some very difficult, but final decisions, with Mademoiselle," she added.

Editor-in-chief Mandi Norwood, who was lured away from Hearst Corp. to lead the magazine about two years ago, and publisher Lori Burgess, who joined in late 1999, will leave the company, Perl said.

"I'm not surprised. There have been rumblings about this for a long time," said one Conde Nast staffer, who declined to be identified. "It's a shame. It's kind of sad because it's been around for so long."

Several high-profile magazines have folded in recent months, including The Industry Standard, which covered the Internet, Maximum Golf and Individual Investor. Many more have become thinner in the wake of the ad slowdown.

"Obviously, there is an ad recession, and newsstand sales are in trouble across the board," said Victor Navasky, a journalism professor at Columbia University. "But people I know in the business have been saying for a couple years that they are surprised Mademoiselle is still going on because it never made money."

Ad pages at Mademoiselle were down 17.6 percent in the period of January to August, compared with the year-ago period, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

Meanwhile, ads pages rose nearly 12 percent at Jane magazine, but declined 13. percent at Conde Nast's Glamour and fell 6.6 percent at Hearst Corp.'s Cosmopolitan, all competitors.

Total advertising pages for major U.S. magazines were down 11 percent for the year through August, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

"There just isn't enough fashion and beauty advertising, and there hasn't been pre-World Trade Center and pre-recession, to fill up all the magazines that aspired to it," Navasky added. Mademoiselle, he said, "lost out in that competition even before all this happened."

Mademoiselle, founded in 1935, is the latest Conde Nast publication to close down. Last year, it shut Women's Sports & Fitness and Details, which was later re-launched by Fairchild Publications.

Conde Nast, like its publishing peers, has been evaluating its titles in the wake of the slowdown. Perl said no other magazines were currently at risk of being closed.

Conde Nast is a unit of Advance Publications, which is owned by the Newhouse family. Its stable of magazines includes Vogue, Wired, Glamour, GQ, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair.


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