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Conde Nast slims down, cuts Gourmet

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Bob Moon: Long before the Food Network and Top Chef, and the legions of recipe-trading bloggers. Before Nouvelle Cuisine, and $30 hamburgers and foam, there was Gourmet Magazine. It’s been around since 1940, documenting all of that, and then some. Today, Conde Nast said it would close the magazine, along with three others. Ashley Milne-Tyte takes a look at why the publisher is slicing away at one of its longest-running titles.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: Gourmet’s circulation has actually risen a bit in the last several years. But its younger, hipper sister, Bon Appetit, has more subscribers and more advertisers. Conde Nast is keeping that title going.

All day, Gourmet fans have been posting their distress on sites like Food writer Ed Levine’s, who started Serious Eats, is upset too.

ED LEVINE: I will miss it terribly.

Many magazines have been losing readers and advertising to the Web. Levine says foodies, who like to trade recipes and restaurant recommendations, love communicating online.

LEVINE: Conde Nast magazines, I think, can be seen as, they’re always bestowing information from on high. They’re telling you what clothes to wear, and what dishes to cook and what restaurants to go to. We were built to have conversations.

Conde Nast is best known as a magazine company with titles like Vanity Fair and the New Yorker. Samir Husni directs the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. He says the Newhouse family, which owns Conde Nast, also owns a lot of money-losing newspapers.

SAMIR HUSNI: It’s still the family money. Their newspapers are bleeding like the rest of the newspapers in this country.

He says they had to cut somewhere. And he says last year’s economic collapse made magazine buyers think twice about just how much gloss they needed.

HUSNI: Can the same company like Conde Nast continue to publish two food magazines, three brides magazines, two man’s magazines, and still make the same amount of money they used to make?

The answer, he says, is no way.

In New York, I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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