America’s Talk Shuts Up, Dashing Media Cross-Promotion Dream

21 January 2002

US general interest magazine Talk announced late last week that the February issue currently on sale will be the last.

Edited by Briton Tina Brown, a longstanding fixture on the New York media ‘scene’, the title folded Friday after two-and-a-half years, despite raising circulation 20% in 2001 to 670,000.

Brown blamed the advertising recession and the fallout from September 11. Although ad pages were actually up 6% last year, such growth was not enough to cover start-up costs and high production expenses (though some employees also pointed the finger at Brown’s many eleventh-hour line-up alterations).

The news represents the collapse of the dream of parent company Talk Media (backed by Disney-owned Miramax Films and media group Hearst), whose much-hyped premise was the cross-promotion of concepts through books, films and magazines. Aside from Brown, other leading players at the group include Miramax co-chair Harvey Weinstein and quondam Vogue publisher Ron Galotti.

Hearst and Miramax invested over $50 million in the magazine, at which point they refused to hand over any more. Brown and Galotti were unable to find alternate sources of funding.

Ironically, the cross-promotion strategy collapsed just as it seemed to be working – Miramax has picked up movie rights for over a dozen Talk Media books and is making films around three magazine articles.

However, the Brown-chaired book unit is still intact and, having published four bestsellers, is making a profit.

News source: Wall Street Journal