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Print publications cut frequency in favor of Web-first models

PrintDigitalEditedPublications reducing frequency and focusing on their digital properties is not a new trend. However, instances of this haven’t been as frequent over the last year, or at least not all at one time. In the last few months, though, several storied publications have moved away from a legacy based in print.

The most recent is Jet magazine, which was founded more than 60 years ago. Jet’s owner, Johnson Publishing Company, recently announced that the publication would move to a digital-first format beginning in June but would still release a print product once a year in a “best of Jet” edition, reported NYTimes.com. This isn’t the first round of reductions for the magazine. Last year, the African-American weekly’s publication schedule was cut back to every three weeks.

Jet magazine has reportedly made investments into enhancing its digital offerings as well. This includes a new app for delivery on phones and tablets to be released in June, which will cost $20 a year. Right now, according to ChicagoBusiness.com, 90 percent of subscribers get the magazine in print. However, Desirée Rogers, chief executive of Johnson Publishing, told The New York Times that Johnson was repositioning the magazine to reach younger readers. “African-Americans skew higher than the rest of the population in getting their news and information from mobile devices,” she told The Times.

Ladies’ Home Journal — which at 130 years old is an even older staple in the magazine world — is also saying farewell to a regular print edition. The women’s magazine will print its last issue in July as a subscriber-based publication. The Meredith Corporation, which owns the magazine, intends to print the title on a quarterly basis for newsstand-only publication, reported NYTimes.com. Its 35-person staff will be let go, and production will move to Meredith’s headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. Company spokesman Art Slusark told The Times that the Journal, which still boasts a circulation of 3.2 million, was being reduced because it wasn’t a leader in the women’s service category.

Meanwhile, New York Magazine converted to a biweekly earlier this year, putting much of its focus on lengthier, more in-depth features. According to AdAge.com in December, the cost-cutting saves the magazine $3.5 million in manufacturing costs. FreePortPress.com reported that the magazine now has 20 percent more content and an enhanced online presence.

Outside the realm of magazines, the Columbia Daily Spectator, Columbia University’s student newspaper, announced that it had plans to move the daily to a weekly in the fall and go Web-first, making Columbia the first Ivy League school without a daily student-run newspaper. While for most publications, cutting frequency is a cost-saving method, CapitalNewYork.com reported that the decision was driven by the desire to put move forward into the future while the paper was still in a good place financially. Cutting frequency will also free up funding so that student employees of the paper can get an hourly wage.

As time wears on, even transitions from print to digital are not black and white. Many publishers are opting to keep print somewhere in the plan, even if only in the form of a special yearly issue. Regardless, publishers are learning, evolving, and changing tactics as they go, showing that despite the strong presence of digital media, print still has a place.

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