The New York Review of Magazines

A Decade in Magazines

By Sruthi Gottipati

Historic mergers, iconic covers and the death of much-loved magazines have made the past decade a defining one in the magazine industry. Dip into nostalgia as NYRM chronicles some of the memorable moments over the last 10 years that have shaped the magazine world.

January: Web and print marry: America Online and Time Warner are united in a deal valued at $350 billion, making history as the largest merger in American business. Today, the combined values of the companies, which have been separated, is about one-ninth of their worth on the day of the merger.

April: Much publicity surrounds the arrival of the debut issue of O, Oprah Winfrey’s new magazine.

March: George, the buzzy title co-founded by J.F.K. Jr. (“Not Just Politics as Usual”) is shuttered.

March: Reporter Bethany McLean breaks the story of the Enron scandal in Fortune.

May: Rosie O’Donnell launches Rosie as a competitor to O. Although it has a strong start, editorial conflicts between O’Donnell and the publisher ensue, and Rosie folds in 2002.

September: Right after the 9/11 attacks, The New Yorker runs an iconic cover by Art Spiegelman. The ghostly black-on-black image of the twin towers receives wide acclaim.

January: Talk, former New Yorker editor Tina Brown’s magazine, folds less than three years after its highly publicized launch.

March: The Reader’s Digest Association buys Reiman Publications, which publishes magazines such as Country and Taste of Home, for $760 million.

February: Condé Nast chases after a younger audience, publishing the first issue of Teen Vogue. It’s the latest addition to a growing number of magazines (Teen People, Elle Girl and CosmoGIRL) targeted at teenagers.

May: The Dixie Chicks pose nude (discreetly) on the cover of Entertainment Weekly with slogans such as “Boycott,” “Proud Americans” and “Peace” on their bodies. Their anti-war stand arouses widespread controversy.

May: Wal-Mart pulls FHM, Stuff and Maxim from its shelves because of their racy photos.

August: Penthouse files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

July: The magazine industry is shocked by the death of Paul Klebnikov, the American editor of Forbes Russia, who was shot outside the magazine’s Moscow office.

October: Condé Nast, publisher of Teen Vogue, buys YM from Gruner & Jahr for $25 million and dismantles the brand.

October: For the first time in the magazine’s history, The New Yorker endorses a presidential candidate. The lucky man? John Kerry.

March: After five months in jail, Martha Stewart is released amid great publicity and with a new body — thanks to a composite photo on Newsweek’s cover that embarrasses the editors and causes policy changes.

April: After nearly 150 years in Boston, The Atlantic announces it will be moving to Washington, D.C. Most of the writers and editors choose to leave the magazine rather than move with it.

June: Under threat of fines and jail time for one of its reporters, Time Inc.’s editor-in-chief, Norman Pearlstine, agrees to obey a court order requiring that the magazine turn over subpoenaed documents to a federal grand jury investigating who leaked the identity of C.I.A. operative Valerie Plame.

July: The identity of the Watergate scandal’s “Deep Throat” is revealed in a Vanity Fair exclusive called “I’m the Guy They Called Deep Throat.”

September: Condé Nast keeps the Vogue spinoffs coming with Men’s Vogue, a quarterly targeting 35-year-old men earning over $100,000 a year. It is now a twice-yearly supplement to Vogue.

February: Feeling the need to add yet another entry to the celebrity-saturated magazine market, Rupert Murdoch launches Page Six, The Magazine.

March: The Atlantic names New York Times reporter James Bennet as its new editor. The position had been vacant since Michael Kelly resigned to write a book in 2002 and was subsequently killed while on assignment in Iraq.

December: Time’s Person of the Year is you, “for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game.”

April: Life folds — for the third time. Time Inc. promises to keep the brand alive online.

May: Seventeen offers teen girls access to its content on cell phones (since Seventeen updates are so crucial). Now there’s even a free iPhone application for it.

May: Adam Moss’ New York magazine takes home five National Magazine Awards. In a jab at The New Yorker (which, for the first time in years, came up empty-handed), former Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker dubs Moss “the new David Remnick.”

July: Condé Nast ends Jane magazine’s 10-year run, prompting the mag’s founder and namesake, Jane Pratt, to attack her former company.

September: Oprah Winfrey throws her — and O magazine’s — weight behind presidential candidate Barack Obama, with a fundraiser that rakes in $3 million for his campaign.

April: The Atlantic puts Britney Spears on its cover, causing a stir among its current readers but, apparently, not attracting many new ones — the issue sold about 24,000 newsstand copies, some 21,000 fewer than in March and nearly 30,000 fewer than in January/February.

July: Italian Vogue features all black models, a first for the fashion world. Editor Franca Sozzani says Barack Obama was a source of inspiration for the issue.

August: Rolling Stone switches to a smaller, more rack-friendly size after three decades in a larger-than-life format.

March: New York magazine goes for a bold and daring cover with Bernie Madoff cast as the Joker. The resemblance is uncanny.

October: Food lovers get a bitter serving — Condé Nast announces that it is canceling Gourmet after 70 years of publication.

October: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, owner of the global financial data and news company Bloomberg L.P., adds BusinessWeek to his media empire.

April: The Apple iPad launches. Could this save the magazine industry?

April: Glamour beats out The Atlantic and New York to be named the first-ever Magazine of the Year at the National Magazine Awards. This new “Ellie” is handed out based on both print and digital excellence.

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