Opinions on Gourmet's Closure by Hesser, Kimball, Kingsly

Now that we're past the mourning phase, everyone is trying to determine what was wrong with Gourmet's model, including Amanda Hesser, Christopher Kimball, and Merri Lee Kingsly:

Forbes op-ed by Amanda Hesser blames the print medium:

Under the stewardship of Reichl, there was nothing wrong with Gourmet's content. What was wrong with the magazine was its medium: print. The food world is fast moving now, and no matter how well-written and captivating an article on artisan butchers might be, by the time the magazine arrived in its glossy cloak with the cursive logo, the stories felt sleepy and quaint.

New York Times op-ed by Cook’s Illustrated's Christopher Kimball blames the internet:

The shuttering of Gourmet reminds us that in a click-or-die advertising marketplace, one ruled by a million instant pundits, where an anonymous Twitter comment might be seen to pack more resonance and useful content than an article that reflects a lifetime of experience, experts are not created from the top down but from the bottom up. They can no longer be coronated; their voices have to be deemed essential to the lives of their customers. That leaves, I think, little room for the thoughtful, considered editorial with which Gourmet delighted its readers for almost seven decades.

Forbes interviews Saveur's Publisher Merri Lee Kingsly blames a lost focus and a heightened competition in the magazine space, taking a shot at Bon App:

In the old days, Gourmet was filled with ads from Rolex and Chanel. Those companies can no longer afford to be in a magazine like that. The makers of packaged goods do spend a lot of money--that's why women's service magazines have done well this year. Look at Family Circle or Better Homes and Gardens. But those kinds of buys are better for Bon Appetit, which is a recipe-driven magazine. Bon Appetit is more about putting Hellmann's mayonnaise on Wonder bread, not living the good life...

On the editorial side, Gourmet's current issue has a story about where to find a steakhouse that serves dinner for under $14. They ran the word "inexpensive" in huge letters on the cover. Another issue had a sweepstakes offer. I'm not sure how that fits with a magazine about "good living."

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Comment Feed

  1. Fact Check

    Or it could be that the Conde Nast method of running a magazine was leaky from the beginning and eventually just ran out of steam.

    Flying a writer to Paris to do a story on hotel bars is:

    a) a waste of resources. There are plenty of bilingual freelancers in Paris who could have filed this from over there without the cost of the plane ticket or hotels.

    b) a dumb story. There are million more interesting, food oriented stories than that one, but Parisian Hotel Bars fit in perfectly with the aspirational lifestyle elements of the Conde Nast model. To hell with whether it was interesting enough to justify the price tag.

    The reason publishing people and writers are blaming everything but wasteful spending is because they love the Conde Nast expense account, and wish it would come back.

  2. The loss of Gourmet is a grief for all creatives who work in the field of food. The photography was wonderful, the inspiration necessary.
    As a subscriber, I contacted customer service to ask what would happen to my remaining dues. I was told they would be passed over to my Bon Appetit subscription. I found this to be a huge insult and a liberty..as if one so easily should meld. They are now refunding me. A curmudgeonly stance, but oh what the hell.

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