The publishing world is reeling with the economic downturn. Ad revenues have tanked, and Gardening Life magazine is no more.
The recent winter issue will be its second last. I used to write quite a bit for GL, and several years ago the magazine featured my country garden in a very nice spread.
My friend Marjorie Harris, GL's editor-at-large, wrote about getting this shocking news in her blog:
"Well, just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. How typical of life. [On] Friday [Nov. 14] I was called to be told that Gardening Life magazine was folding. Right now. No advance warning, no time to write a final Back Talk, nada. No time to figure out what to do in the future.A dramatic drop in ad revenues is to blame, according to GL's publisher:
Since 1996, as the central part of my life this wonderful magazine is gone like a puff of smoke. There will be one more issue. I guess it’ll be a collector’s item. But there will never be another garden magazine started to take its place. It’s the economy, stupid old me — I didn’t see that coming. I had the usual journalistic focus of deadlines. But no more."
"The global financial crisis has triggered such a dramatic decline in advertising markets that prudent media companies around the world are evaluating their portfolios and making tough decisions about those brands least able to withstand the downturn. Announcements of closures and cutbacks from Canada, the US and Europe in recent weeks are testimony to how widespread these conditions are."Meanwhile, there are changes at Canadian Gardening, where I've also been a writer — doing a column geared to newbies called "Novice Gardener" — at least until recently.
In late summer, I was told that my column was no more, and I was OK with that because I had already decided it was time for me to pack it in. I'd had been writing the column (based on my book for beginner gardeners) for about three years, and I felt we'd covered all the obvious topics, and the premise was getting a bit stale.
More interesting than content changes is a restructuring plan, announced by CG's publisher last month, with its obvious overtones of "doing more with less."
When Aldona Satterthwaite, who has been CG's editor since 2001, decided to step down, the publisher, Transcontinental Media, did not look for a replacement. Instead, management decided to merge the editor-in-chief, managing editor and art director roles at Canadian Gardening and Canadian Home & Country. Erin McLaughlin, currently Home & Country’s editor-in-chief, will be adding editor-in-chief of CG to her duties.
As the Canadian magazine trade publication Masthead Online reported:
Asked whether she [Deborah Trepanier, group publisher for CG, Home & Country and Style at Home] thought doing “more with less” would affect the editorial quality of the respective publications, Trepanier replied, “No. Not at all. I think our quality will remain as high as it is now…Obviously there’s a lot of work there but there are a lot of talented people associated with both these publications and they’ll certainly be able to manage the job.” The frequency for both titles will be reduced next year, Trepanier said: CG will go from eight to seven issues per year, while Home & Country will drop from nine to six.A few weeks back, I had dinner in Toronto with two old friends, who have both moved on from high-powered jobs in magazines. One was editor-in-chief at Chatelaine for a decade, while the other held the equivalent position at Canadian Living (where I got my start in national magazines more than 20 years ago). One thing we were all in agreement on: it was a good time to be out of the magazine business.