The New Yorker was the talk of the town last month after its
editor, Tina Brown, walked away from owner S.I. Newhouse Junior’s offer
of another five years at the helm. It was an act unheard of in the
magazine’s 73-year history. Its three former editors had either died or
were removed from their posts. Brown has chosen instead to align her
fate with Disney’s Miramax Films. David Remnick, a Pulitzer
Prize-winning author, is her successor.
The magazine has a venerable history, offering readers provocative
articles by the likes of Dorothy Parker, JD Salinger and Truman Capote,
but it has not had an easy ride. By the early 90s, the once vibrant
magazine grew tired, circulation fell and advertising dwindled.
During her tenure, which began in 1992, Brown turned the New Yorker into
a must-read for the cultural and political elite. However, although
Brown’s sweeping changes brought the New Yorker kicking and screaming
into the 90s, the weekly has failed to turn a profit.
While circulation rose from 659,000 in late 1992 to 807,935 in the
second half of 1997, ad revenue has continued its downward spiral,
despite substantial spend from upmarket advertisers such as
Mercedes-Benz. Its low ratecard, cheap subscription rate, lavish expense
accounts and costly kill fees have all contributed to the magazine’s red
ink. Last year, it reportedly lost dollars 11 million.
Newhouse, apparently, has had enough. Although the New Yorker
traditionally has been independent from his other 15 titles such as
Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ, which fall under the Conde Nast Publications
umbrella, this is no longer the case.
In May, Steven Florio, president and chief executive of Conde Nast
Publications, demoted his younger brother, Tom, from president/publisher
of the New Yorker to publisher of Conde Nast Traveler, replacing him
with David Carey, publisher of Conde Nast House & Garden. Now, Florio is
in the midst of absorbing the magazine into the company’s fold,
streamlining the title’s back-office operations, reportedly planning to
increase its ratecard and selling ad pages in packages with other Conde
Nast titles. With Carey in place, and Remnick poised to take over, the
magazine has a chance to refocus.
The New Yorker
Cover price: dollars 3
One year subscription rate: U.S.dollars 39.95
Total circulation: 807,935
Of which subscriptions are: 758,970
Ad rate for four-colour page: dollars 64,930
Ad rate for mono page: dollars 40,700