Publisher of Discover Magazine Folds

From Reuters

Family Media Inc., publisher of Discover, Health and four other magazines, shut its doors Wednesday, blaming the recession that has hit the advertising and publishing industries especially hard.

In a letter to employees, Robert Riordan, chairman of the privately held company, blamed the move on “the continual downturn in advertising and an economy which hinders the ability to borrow new money.”

The move means a suspension in publication for Family Media’s titles, which also include Golf Illustrated, World Tennis, 1,001 Home Ideas and Homeowner.


In the letter, Riordan said some of the magazines still might be sold, but all the company’s approximately 200 employees were dismissed with undisclosed severance pay.

Family Media’s titles join a long list of consumer magazines that have folded in the recession that has gripped much of the publishing industry since even before the downturn that took hold of the nation in July, 1990.

Fame, Smart, Psychology Today and Wigwag are some of the general-interest magazines that have disappeared from newsstands as advertisers have cut back.

For the first half of 1991, magazines tracked by the Publishers Information Bureau reported a 10.8% decline in advertising pages from a year before. Ad pages are considered the best measure of a magazine’s financial health.

Family Media’s magazines were typical. Discover, which Family Media bought for $26 million from Time Inc. in 1987, posted a 15.6% decline in ad pages. Ad pages were down 25.1% at 1,001 Home Ideas.

Both magazines had circulations of more than 1 million, as did Health, which posted a 2.3% increase in ad pages for the first half.

In January, Family Media closed Savvy Woman and said it intended to focus on its other titles, which were more narrowly focused and seen as having a better chance.

But this week a front-page story in Advertising Age said Family Media was “urgently” seeking a buyer for its properties. The trade weekly said Family Media had a debt load of about $60 million to $70 million.

The adverse publicity was seen as a final blow.

“You really damage the goods when you can’t control your publicity,” said Timothy McInerney, a senior associate with McNamee Consulting Co. Inc., which serves media companies.

He blamed the demise of Family Media largely on “flawed management. That company was born in the expansive-minded ‘80s without a real strong foundation of business sense,” McInerney said.

The magazines still might draw interest from some buyers. The company had ad revenue of about $63 million last year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.