American Mass-Market Magazines

By Alan Nourie; Barbara Nourie | Go to book overview

In 1980, in a distress sale, Robert Weingarten, owner of Financial World, acquired the Review. He changed the journal into a monthly and tried to refocus it as a newsmagazine of the arts. By June 1982 the Review had a circulation of 480,000, but most of the subscribers were paying a discount rate. Weingarten's attempts to cut financial losses resulted in serious undercapitalization of the magazine, which suspended publication in 1982 after a loss of $3 million. Later that year it was sold to publisher Jeffery Gluck before it slipped into bankruptcy. The new owner moved the Review's publication offices to Columbia, Missouri, pared subscribers to 210,000, and converted the journal to a bimonthly. Gluck's cost-cutting measures were criticized for producing a publication of inferior quality, and the magazine was once more suspended in January 1984. Two Washington-based conservatives, Frank Gannon and Paul Dietrich, bought the Review later that year, switched publication to a monthly schedule, and tried to change it into a review of both established and contemporary culture. The journal declined into shallow coverage of starlets and trendy stories on the arts, in an attempt to appeal to a younger generation of readers. Circulation fell to 150,000 with the May 1986 issue, and the last few issues appeared bimonthly until publication was suspended in midyear. In 1987, Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione bought the Review with plans to eventually revive the magazine, whose name remained its only real asset. Saturday Review's history of decline provides a striking illustration of the dilemma that has confronted so many quality literary journals in the United States: that of the successful translation of cultural values into economic worth. 3


Notes
1.
Henry Seidel Canby, quoted in Norman Cousins, Present Tense ( New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967), p. 7.
2.
Cousins, Present Tense, p. 20.
3.
Norman Cousins, "Postmortem of the Saturday Review," Center Magazine 16 ( 1983): 33-40.

Information Sources

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Canby, Henry Seidel. American Memoir. Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1947.

Cousins, Norman. "Postmortem of the Saturday Review." Center Magazine 16 ( 1983): 33-40.

_____. Present Tense. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967.

Peterson, Theodore. Magazines in the Twentieth Century. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1964.


INDEXES

Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature, Magazine Index, Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature.

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