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

News, 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