On Ladies Home Journal Folding After 131 Years
Yesterday was an interesting day. In the morning I got the opportunity to speak via Skype to a wonderful college class hosted by John Fennell, associate professor and Meredith Chair in Service Journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism.
Later in the day, and just by coincidence, we all heard that Meredith Corporation was closing down Ladies Home Journal after a run of 131 years. In the after effect of the announcement, I received a dozen notes from friends, associates and concerned subscribers. Most, if not all, suffered from a sort of malaise, as if they had just read the entrails of a deceased animal that foretold in some way the death of us all. The mass conclusion was that the death of Ladies Home Journal was proof of the death of print itself, and woe be unto us all.
My perspective, which I shared with those others, is that the closing of LHJ has nothing to do with cryptic prophesies. It has to do with the nuts and bolts of a vibrant industry which, at worst, is in a transformational stage. Magazines have been born, lived a full life and died multiple thousands of times. It is normal, and what we have always done as an industry. We create, we make revenue, and put mercifully to sleep those titles that no longer display the necessary sustainability for a healthy life.
Now, in no way am I being flippant about those who will lose their jobs and in some cases their livelihood. That is, indeed, a very sad and horrific position to be in. But the pain is on individuals and not a reflection of the entire industry. In my hope of hopes, the people who lose their jobs will be redeployed as soon as humanly possible, perhaps even as staff in a new title or yet-to-be-born magazine.
That a noble enterprise has closed its doors is not a reflection on the industry’s ever resilient ability to create new words and new thought and entertainment worth the price of admission. It is about the Darwin’s rule of publishing -- survival of the fittest and the most interesting. It has always been thus, and it will always be thus.