‘LIFE’ Cut Short: Time Inc. Shutters Newspaper Supplement

By: E&P Staff

Time Inc. announced today that it will close LIFE magazine, now distributed as a weekend newspaper supplement. The print issue dated April 20, 2007 will be the magazine’s last.

LIFE was carried in 103 newspapers with a total circulation of 13 million, the company said. It was re-launched for the third time in 2004.

“The decision was made within the last week,” Dawn Bridges, senior vice president of corporate communications at Time Inc., told E&P. “Unfortunately the newspaper ad environment has not been a good one. We were fighting the same battle.”

Bridges said LIFE alerted newspapers that carried the supplement with phone calls and letters: “I can tell you our newspaper partners were happy with LIFE and they got very good consumer response whenever they did their surveys, but this was our decision at Time Inc.”

She would not disclose if the supplement was profitable or its revenue. Forty-two people will lose their jobs — 15 in editorial and 27 in publishing — though some executives, including Publisher Peter Bauer and Managing Editor Bill Shapiro are in talks to stay with Time Inc., said Bridges. Andy Blau, president of Life, has other roles at the company.

LIFE, of course, had a storied history as a weekly, until 1972, and then re-appeared a few years later as a monthly. It folded that edition but then came back as a supplement.

“LIFE magazine was a truly innovative publishing venture. It was developed, edited and published by some of the best talent in the business and we can remain proud of its many achievements. But sometimes we have to make tough calls, and this was one,” said Time Inc. Chairman, CEO Ann Moore in a statement. “Growth requires taking risks and the potential upside was huge, but unfortunately the timing worked against us. The market has moved dramatically since October 2004 and it is no longer appropriate to continue publication of LIFE as a newspaper supplement. However, Time Inc. remains committed to the LIFE brand, and we will now be concentrating on migrating this iconic brand in many innovative ways on multiple digital platforms.”

The company said LIFE “will continue with its plan to launch a major portal to put its entire collection of 10 million images online. The most important collection of imagery covering the events and the people of the 20th century will be made available to the public for personal use at no cost. More than 97% of this collection has never been seen by the public and contains the works of such master photographers as Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White and Gordon Parks, among others. LIFE’s online site, to be launched later this year, will become the preeminent destination to view the most important photography of our time, both archival and contemporary.”

It will also keep its name attached to books and other brand items.

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