If anyone could possibly still need a wake-up call to remind them
the advertising economy has changed so drastically from only a few
months ago, that alarming alarm is being sounded by the noise made as
the final issues of Mademoiselle magazine arrive on newsstands and in
Mademoiselle, a monthly aimed at women in their late teens and early
twenties, has been a mainstay American title since 1935, when it was
started by the magazine pioneer Betsy Blackwell. She was branded a
heretic because of her belief that fashion and beauty coverage could be
practical rather than ethereal. Worse yet, the critics carped, she had
the nerve to seek a literate female reader, whom she successfully
pursued by publishing fiction from writers such as Sylvia Plath, Truman
Capote, Flannery O'Connor and Joyce Carol Oates.
Mademoiselle has been even more of an industry stalwart because since
1959 it has been owned by Conde Nast Publications, arguably the premier
proprietor of glitzy yet substantive magazines.
Conde Nast's properties run the gamut from A (Allure and Architectural
Digest) to V (Vanity Fair and Vogue), with Mademoiselle nestled snugly
in the Ms (for middle); circulation most recently reached 1.15
So seemingly secure was Mademoiselle's place in the magazine firmament
that for years it has been known by a jaunty nickname, Millie, even
before the spate of publications named for their editors such as Jane
(Pratt), Oprah (Winfrey) and Rosie (O'Donnell).
How many other magazines can make that claim? After all, nobody calls
The Economist "Echo" or Newsweek "Newsy".
So it was a real blow to the industry, underscoring the severity of the
downturn in business since 11 September, when Conde Nast unexpectedly
announced its decision to close Mademoiselle, effective with the
November issue. Steven T Florio, the president and chief executive
officer, attributed the abrupt folding to "current economic conditions",
which made the magazine "no longer viable".
To be sure, many American magazines have gone to that great newsstand in
the sky since the dotcom boom went bust and the national economy
Some of the dear departed include Brill's Content, Expedia Travels,
Family PC, George, Individual Investor, Lingua Franca, The Industry
Standard, Jump, Maximum Golf, The Sciences and Walking and Working
But it is no exaggeration to say that if you added up the number of
years all those titles existed, that sum might not equal the 66 years
that Mademoiselle has been enlightening its readers.
Yes, there have been signs for some time that Mademoiselle was
There were frequent, significant shifts in tone and approach under a
parade of editors, most recently a British import, Mandi Norwood.
Advertising pages were also declining this year at a rate higher than
the losses suffered by the industry overall.
Competition was intensifying from both outside Conde Nast (Cosmopolitan
and Marie Claire) and inside (Jane and Lucky). And trouble in attracting
new readers led to subscription offers such as two years for one and
deals as low as 67 cents a copy, compared with a cover price of $2.99.
Still, it would be silly not to mourn Millie. Every magazine that closes
is a loss.