The three national papers all have bet that they can expand revenue by delivering magazine products between sections of newsprint. The Wall Street Journal is previewing its planned WSJ magazine to advertisers now. The New York Times has added a real estate title called Key to a magazine group that already includes the sports quarterly Play, the fast-growing fashion supplement T and the long-standing New York Times Sunday Magazine. And USA Today has just introduced a quarterly about outdoor pursuits called Open Air.
Others are offering new options for local papers, even after Time Inc. blamed the failure of Life magazine's incarnation as a supplement last year on newspapers' decline and weak ad support.
Last week, for example, The Publishing Group of America hired Lisa Delaney, a former senior editor at Cooking Light and Prevention, to become editor in chief of Spry, its own health monthly planned for a September launch. The company already publishes supplements such as American Profile, an 8-year-old rural and suburban weekly that distributes about 9 million copies inside newspapers, and Relish, a food monthly whose distribution has grown to 12 million since its introduction two years ago.
Both Spry and Parade's new entry, Parade's HealthyStyle, could help papers provide health content despite contracting newsrooms, media buyers said. "Newspaper readers tend to be loyal, and they're used to seeing that, and now they're not," said Brenda White, VP-director of publishing activation, Starcom USA. "Coming in and giving them that content back is very interesting."
For advertisers, the big pitch is the supplements' blend of welcoming magazine design and newspapers' immediacy and authority. Plenty of marketers already find that proposition compelling; ad pages slipped 1.2% at USA Weekend last year but grew 9.5% at American Profile and 7.3% at Parade, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
And that hybrid approach might work particularly well for health marketers, said Robin Steinberg, senior VP-director of print investment at MediaVest. "Parade is an important brand vehicle that delivers large distribution for clients who are looking to move product quickly," Ms. Steinberg said. "The midweek edition of Parade's HealthyStyle provides consumers -- in particular, women -- lifestyle, food and health content, making it a natural fit for marketers who want to push health and wellness."
Not just older readers
Health information also is likely to resonate with newspapers' best readers: the crowd over 65 years old. Scarborough Research reports that 66% of people over 65 say they regularly read a newspaper. That proportion slips to 59% for people from 55 to 64 years old, then drops to just 53% for people from 45 to 54.
Additional lifestyle, food and wellness information may help attract those much-needed younger readers, already fairly weak in their newspaper habits. In 2007, just 33% of 18- to 24-year-olds and just 34% of 25- to 34-year-olds say they read a newspaper in an average week.
Randy Siegel, president-publisher at Parade, said Parade's HealthyStyle would draw advertising primarily from direct-to-consumer pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter remedies, food and package goods.
Drugs and remedies advertisers were the top-spending category for magazines last year, turning in a 3.1% expansion in ad pages to boot, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Food and food products present another meaty target, particularly after that category's 9.8% increase last year.
"Newspapers will continue to be a viable medium for many, many years to come, but they need to evolve," Mr. Siegel said. "You look at what Rupert Murdoch is doing at The Wall Street Journal, you look at what Sam Zell is starting to do at Tribune. We believe greatly in the future of newspapers and newspaper websites -- and in newspapers becoming these ubiquitous brands with a portfolio of choices for readers and advertisers."