Monday, October 5, 2009

R.I.P. Gourmet Magazine 1941 - 2009

Today is a very sad day for the food world. It was with complete shock and dismay that I read the news this morning that Conde Nast was discontinuing four magazines, including Gourmet. The November issue will be its last.

It's no secret that newspapers and magazines in general have been having a rough go of it over the past few years, and the current recession has been particulary tough on magazines, like Gourmet, that depend heavily on advertising for revenue. In fact, Gourmet's January issue and Bon Appetit's March issue had so few ads that they were barely over the 98-page minimum necessary to even glue the magazines together. There have been rumblings during the past couple of months that there would be "frequency reductions" and severe budget cuts at several Conde Nast magazines. But no one expected today's news that the 68-year-old grand dame of epicurian journalism would be shuttered. The news surely surprised Bon Appetit's publisher, Paul Jowdy (who's keeping his job), who said back in February that the roumors that Conde Nast would close Gourmet or Bon Appetit were "ridiculous ... They would never do that." Apparently, when bean-counting management consultants are involved, you can never say never.

Conde Nast says that it "will remain committed to the brand, retaining Gourmet's book publishing and television programming, and Gourmet recipes on Epicurious.com." This is cold comfort for Gourmet's subscribers -- some of whom have been loyal readers for decades -- not to mention Gourmet's staffers, who, if you believe the stories, are being treated very, very badly by Conde Nast. The reports are that all of Gourmet's staffers, including Ruth Reichl, have been let go, and have been given only 48-hours to pack their things and leave the building. Ruth's Twitter post from today seems to confirm this. "Thank you all SO much for this outpouring of support. It means a lot. Sorry not to be posting now, but I'm packing. We're all stunned, sad."

I'm stunned and sad, too, Ruth.


(Thanks to Eat Me Daily, Eater, Gawker, and The NYT Media Decoder for their excellent coverage of this unfolding story.)

5 comments:

Liz C said...

Wow - I just read about it a few minutes ago. Had no idea. Boo.

Teena said...

Wow. I hadn't heard that yet. I am completely shocked.

Melissa Bach Palladino said...

Unbelievable. And this 48 hour business is really shitty. I just can't imagine how stunned those poor people must be!

The Mediocre Cook said...

I read this last night and was truly saddened. I struggle to understand how any business could let such an established brand go like that. I understand they will 'retain' the branding but the magazine is such a cornerstone of the brand identity I can't imagine anything being a success without it. A sad day and to think I was going to subscribe this fall...

Ryan said...

I'm so sorry Adam. I thought of you and the other Gourmet bloggers when I first heard the news.