Ladies’ Home Journal to Cease Monthly Publication [Updated]

The 131-year-old magazine has been struggling in ad pages

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UPDATE: A Meredith spokesperson has confirmed that while Ladies’ Home Journal will be ending its run as a monthly magazine, the brand will live on as a quarterly, newsstand-only publication with “a robust digital presence” this fall. (Meredith took a similar tactic with its Country Home magazine, which transitioned from a monthly to a special interest publication back in 2009, and is now, per the company, a profitable brand.)

The entire current Ladies’ Home Journal staff, including its editor, Sally Lee, has been laid off. Meredith’s special interest media group in Des Moines will oversee the new quarterly title.

According to the spokesperson, the magazine’s shuttering as a monthly was not due to lack of consumer interest, but the tough advertising environment. “You’ve got a women’s lifestyle field that has expanded from the original Seven Sisters to a much broader field competing for limited ad dollars,” the spokesperson said, adding, “When we looked at our brands, Ladies’ Home Journal unfortunately had a higher median age than other titles in that field.”

The magazine’s July issue will be its last. Current subscribers will receive another Meredith title in its place.

AARP Media editorial director Myrna Blyth, who was editor in chief and publishing director of Ladies’ Home Journal from 1981 until 2002, called the magazine’s folding “very sad.”

“A great American publishing institution is basically gone,” she said. “I don’t think the Journal has been supported for these last years to help it do as well as it could, so I’m not surprised…It didn’t the attention it should have gotten.”

Much of that lack of attention, she surmised, was due to the magazine’s largely Baby Boomer audience. “The Boomers are the magazine readers of America, but I think that sometimes magazines try to run away from their readers,” she said. “And advertisers are still not accepting the fact that the Boomers remain the largest demo, the richest demo, the most supportive demo.

“Hollywood is making more movies for older demos because they realize that; it’s amazing that print magazines don’t want to recognize something that’s apparent to the movie industry,” she added.

Still, it’s not all bad news for Blythe: “Let me put it this way,” she said. “I will be happy if the Journal readers become members or readers of AARP, and I’ll also be happy to take the Journal’s advertising, because we certainly have readers that want to see that advertising.”

Another one of the Seven Sisters may have bitten the dust. According to a report on Gawker, Meredith is shuttering Ladies’ Home Journal. A source told Gawker that the magazine’s New York staff was informed of the news this morning and that layoffs are planned.

The magazine’s health editor Julie Bain also announced the closure of the magazine on Facebook today, according to a source.

Interestingly, the 131-year-old magazine hasn’t been doing any worse than its competitors in the women’s service category. In the second half of 2013, its circulation was flat at about 3.2 million, per the Alliance for Audited Media, making it the fifth-biggest women’s service title behind Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle and Woman’s Day. Single-copy sales were actually strong during the period, rising 4 percent—a feat in the current newsstand environment.

The magazine wasn’t doing quite as well on the advertising front. Ad pages fell 22 percent in the first quarter of 2014, according to PIB. However, all of the magazine’s main competitors had similar numbers for the quarter (and, in fact, fellow Meredith titles Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle and More all fared worse).

Calls to Meredith for comment have not been returned.

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.