From the Editor: A major shift is happening in our world right now
Before I get into the state of food media, a moment of mourning for Paul Bocuse, the iconic French chef and a father of nouvelle cuisine who just died at the age of 91. RIP Monsieur Paul.
This week Bonnier, the publisher of Saveur, laid off 70 workers, including Saveur’s editor-in-chief Adam Sachs and about half of the edit staff. They are now a team of six and will move to a quarterly publishing schedule.
Conde Nast, the publisher of Bon Appetit, Vanity Fair, and other titles, laid off 80 workers in the fall, with rumors of more cuts on the way.
Meredith, the publisher of Better Homes & Gardens and Martha Stewart Living, and others, bought Time Inc., the publisher of Cooking Light, Food & Wine, and Extra Crispy, and plans to make $400-$500 million in cost cuts. Time Inc. already implemented some economies of scale with its food brands earlier last year when it merged the editorial leadership of its major food titles.
Hearst, the publisher of Food Network Magazine, Good Housekeeping, among others, bought Rodale late last year and announced this week they will cut 145 jobs in March, potentially threatening the future of small, digital-only Rodale brand Organic Life.
And we all know Lucky Peach is long dead.
Meanwhile, David Carey, the president of Hearst Magazines, predicts a bloodbath in the digital space this year. He’s talking more about the BuzzFeeds of the world, but it’s telling that this week saw the demise of darling online media outlets The Awl and The Hairpin.
Writer Kevin Alexander tweeted that it feels like the way we thought 2008 would be. I would add that it feels like the way 2009 was. That was the year that saw the end of Gourmet and the first and only layoffs I’ve ever experienced at Eater. And we weren’t the only ones. About one year into the recession, it was kind of where the rubber met the road. What’s interesting now is that these media struggles are coming during an economic boom, as publishers consolidate to fight the current state of declining ad dollars and batten down the hatches for a potential downturnthat some believe is long overdue.
On a positive note, some food media brands continue to thrive, including Bon Appetit (even if they’ll only have 10 issues this year), the commercially successful but often overlooked Food Network Mag, indie brands like Cherry Bombe and a revived Modern Farmer, and upshoot ‘zines, newsletters, and podcasts. Plus, major players like The New Yorker, the SF Chronicle, and the New York Times have even increased investment in food reporting and storytelling.