Paper giants no more 25



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The Australian Womens’  Weekly, Womens’ Day and the younger womens magazines of Cleo and Cosmo used to  be national institutions.  But the last two weeks have brought their demise into the limelight.  Are you sad to see these magazines and titles that were such a part of our youth falling apart?  What magazines do you still buy? 

The first The Australian Women’s Weekly was published in 1933, in the worst years of depression according to the Financial Review.  It sold out before lunch.  Eighty-three years later stories of the magazine’s poor management, struggling operations and failure to adapt  in a rapidly changing world abound.

Most of us have watched on from the sidelines in awe of the stories told about the “paper giants”, seeing the glamour, the industry and the icons as untouchable and revelling in the power of the brands.  But it seems these players in the magazine industry in reality are crying poor and facing a morph or die challenge they didn’t see coming but consumers and James Packer did.

Cleo magazine was mothballed this week and as a former newsagent’s daughter I am saddened to hear that it was in the most recent audited figures only attracting about 42,000 sales over a 6 month period.  I remember as a teenager poring over the pages looking for innuendo and advice in every line.  For many here, years or even decades of Australian Womens’ Weekly’s still sit under the coffee tables or in boxes in the back room and the memories of the iconic role magazines played are fresh.

But the rumours abound.  Media industry publications are saying that the Womens’ Weekly and Womens’ Day editorial teams might be combined for efficiency in coming weeks, showing the tough times that have befallen both magazines and perhaps magazines in general.  Another of their stable Dolly, in the youth market is being heavily modified to chase digital markets and silence is being heard in the halls as staff are continually laid off.

James Packer famously sold his holding in the magazines division, ACP,  to German magazine giant Bauer in 2007.  He saw the change was coming quite clearly.  So did consumers who have certainly slowed their buying of the magazines.

Are you sad to see these old titles slide into history rather than morph into the future? Which ones did you or do you buy and read?


Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. I have not been able to buy any for years now, I loved reading them on occassions, but being on a pension has meant cut backs on everything, magazines have no hope. Sad that to be given one from a friend who has already read it, is a now a real treat.

  2. They have out priced them selves but love reading them at the hairdressers.

    1 REPLY
    • I agree about the price and I suspect that would have had an enormous impact on sales. I have not purchased any of those magazines for a long time because of the cost.

  3. It is a changing world, and most younger people would be spending any time that might once have been spent browsing magazines browsing the Internet. I still buy the occasional magazine, but I am usually disappointed with the content. Some old stalwarts now just make things up to try to hook readers. Mary and Fred are deliriously happy this week, but heading for divorce the next. Or it’s Nic and Keith, or Brad and Angelina – just change the names. Then Prince Harry has found his true love every other week. It’s laughable, but cringeworthy at the same time. Why would people buy them?

  4. I refuse to waste my money on buying advertising, which there are very few articles worth the read in them these days. I find the only time I ever bother to even pick one up is at the hairdressers, and it serves to remind me what a waste they really are!

    1 REPLY
  5. I have purchased the Australian Women’s Weekly for over 50 years and when I first came to NZ it was a weekly magazine and pure luxury to buy it and pour over the articles. These days it’s a monthly magazine to which I still have a subscription.

  6. I am a New Zealander & for years had subscriptions for Woman’s Day & NZ Woman’s Weekly but Bauer ruined them…too many “rumours from royal sources”, same old “stars” week after week & the advertising content was becoming larger than the “human” stories. NZ Woman’s Weekly has only been in the Bauer stable for a relatively short time but became smaller (in the number of pages) & the content became the same as Woman’s Day &, as another poster said, the articles were indeed cringeworthy!!!!

  7. I used to like them for the knitting and recipes etc but I refuse to buy magazines now that are full of boring articles about so called celebrities and their pathetic antics.

  8. They are full of adds & no near as good as they used to be I stopped buying them along time ago I used to enjoy reading them all.

  9. I once enjoyed them but I really don’t care about what celebrity is doing what. I am interested enough in royalty to want to know facts not speculation. The page of celebrities out with their kids makes me angry 😠 at the invasion of their privacy. Too dear, no content they’ve becomes rubbish

  10. I was a keen magazine buyer but I now only read old ones at the Drs. I think specialty magazines for cooking, gardening etc will survive but the days of celebrity gossip mags are gone. At their best women’s magazines were more than that.

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