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Ladies' Home Journal Ends Monthly Publication, Lays Off All Staff

Stalwart of the Onetime 'Seven Sisters' Had a Circulation of 3.2 Million

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Ladies' Home Journal, an icon of American publishing and cornerstone of what were once called the "Seven Sisters" of women's magazines, will cease monthly publication after 131 years, parent company Meredith confirmed Thursday.

The magazine will become a special interest publication sold on newsstands, according to Meredith spokesman Art Slusark. The company's current plan is not to sell subscriptions, he added.

The July issue will be its last as a monthly, with the special interest publication slated to appear on newsstands in the fall. The website will also continue to publish.

Meredith is moving production of those special issues from New York, where Ladies' Home Journal has been based, to its corporate headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. The entire staff of 35 people was laid off, including Editor-in-Chief Sally Lee. They were told the news as the company's earnings call began Thursday morning.

"I'm sad," said Myrna Blyth, editor-in-chief from 1981 until 2002, of the magazine's demise.

"It was a great American magazine that meant a great deal to American women for a number of years," she added.

The magazine, which began publishing in 1883, has a circulation of 3.2 million, according to its report with the Alliance for Audited Media. At its peak in 1968, the magazine's circulation was 6.8 million, according to Meredith. The company bought Ladies' Home Journal in 1986 from Family Media in a $96 million deal that also brought Health magazine into the Meredith family.

The company will serve those subscribers with its other titles, whether that's Better Homes & Gardens, More or Every Day with Rachael Ray, according to Mr. Slusark.

"It's not a consumer issue, it's an advertising issue," he said. Ladies' Home Journal was "more challenged than our other titles because it wasn't a category leader," he added, noting that it also had a higher median reader age than some of its other magazine.

Ad pages had fallen 23% this year following several years of double-digit ad declines, including a 17% drop in 2013, according to Media Industry Newsletter.

Ladies' Home Journal is one of the original group of women's service magazines called the Seven Sisters, along with fellow Meredith titles Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle as well as Hearst-owned Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Woman's Day. (The seventh sister, McCall's, closed in 2002.) They share similar challenges of graying audiences and declining ad pages.

Mr. Slusark said that transitioning Ladies' Home Journal to a special interest publication will improve the profitability of Meredith's National Media Group, which oversees its magazines.

Meredith posted a 37% decline in profits during its most recent quarter. Ad revenues across its national magazines fell to $112 million from $129 million the prior year.

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