Jane Pratt on the End of Jane

'That Baby That Went Off and Got On Drugs'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- One day after Conde Nast Publications shut down Jane magazine, founder and namesake Jane Pratt used a special edition of her Sirius Satellite Radio show to blast what the title became after her departure two years ago.
Photo: Larry Busacca

Jane Pratt says she could have helped keep her namesake magazine going even after leaving Conde Nast. 'I think I could have helped the magazine stay alive.' | ALSO: Comment on this article in the 'Your Opinion' box below.

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"I feel like Sassy was my baby; I feel like Jane was my second baby," said Ms. Pratt, who started Jane in 1997 and was the first editor of Sassy, a ground-breaking title for teen girls, before that. "I feel like I abandoned that baby and it went off and got on drugs or something. I do have guilt about that. What I really would have liked would have been to have kept more of a connection to the magazine."

Ad pages sunk
It isn't clear, of course, whether maintaining close ties would have been possible in the summer of 2005, when Ms. Pratt and Conde Nast split in what they called a mutual decision. But, in any case, it didn't happen. Brandon Holley was hired to succeed Ms. Pratt as editor in chief and Carlos Lamadrid was tapped to take over as publisher. What followed was rocky for everyone: A Conde Nast ad campaign tried without much luck to position Ms. Holley as "so Jane," while advertisers stuck their hands in their pockets and let ad pages sink 21% in 2006. One cover last year, showing Jessica Simpson wearing pink and biting her finger, appalled some old readers who had loved Ms. Pratt's less mainstream touch.

Yesterday Conde Nast told Ms. Holley, Mr. Lamadrid and the staff that recent improvements in performance were not enough; Jane's August issue will be its last.

"I would have liked to have had some say over who was brought in," Ms. Pratt said on the radio show. "I think I could have helped the magazine stay alive by being involved on the advertising side, not letting as many of those advertisers slip away. I could have helped on the publicity side."

"If a magazine's named Jane, then people want to see Jane on TV or see Jane in the meeting with L'Oreal," she added. "I think it could have been handled differently."

'Still had hope'
Ms. Pratt said she had hoped the magazine would live on without her. "I didn't want the magazine to fold because I still had hope for it," she told a caller who said she had lost interest in the magazine, "that it could take on the right direction and that it could get back the advertising that it had lost and some of the readers like you that had defected."

She also said she had wished well for her former colleagues at Jane who stayed after she left -- although there was one thing that bugged her on that front. "I have some questions why they stayed after it became crappy," she said.
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