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Australian magazines dealt another blow as Bauer Media shuts down several glossies

PHOTOGRAPHY BY DARREN MCDONALD FOR HARPER’S BAZAAR
WORDS BY CAIT EMMA BURKE

The Australian magazine industry seems to be in crisis.

It’s a deeply sad day for all print media lovers (and really, Australian media in general) today, with news that seven Australian fashion, celebrity and lifestyle magazines are to drop out of circulation over the next week.

The news comes only days after Bauer Media acquired Seven West Media’s magazine publishing arm, Pacific Magazines, and swiftly axed 60 of its 160 staff and stood down a further 15 via a Zoom meeting, denying them access to pay and JobKeeper.

This reflects a trend happening globally – Bauer Media canned its entire suite of publications in New Zealand in April, including the much-loved fashion title Fashion Quarterly – and hits home the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on the magazine industry.

While Bauer Media has refused to disclose which titles will cease printing, it’s speculated that Women’s Health, Men’s Health and InStyle are among the publications affected. The company suspended the print editions of several of its other titles last week, including Harper’s Bazaar, OK!, NW and Elle.

Sources speculate that with Bauer now owning several similar magazine titles, more merging of staff and titles will occur, and smaller publications are unlikely to make it through this period.

Bauer chief executive Brendon Hill last year described the acquisition as a way to “help secure a more sustainable and profitable future” for Pacific Magazines, but last week announced that following a significant decrease in advertising revenue due to COVID-19, Bauer has had to restructure.

There has been widespread condemnation within the media landscape of Bauer’s treatment of Pacific Magazine’s staff; this was the first week back for many staff following months of speculation as to the security of their jobs following the merger. Neill Jones, the director of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance described it as a “particularly cruel and callous way to treat people”.

While COVID-19 dealt the final blow to many of these publications, the magazine industry has been struggling for some time now, with various publications folding or becoming digital-only in recent times. In Australia, numerous titles have closed over the last few years, including Cosmpolitan, Cleo, Grazia and Madison.

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