Out with the old, in with the new for Hearst

In a move sure to bring some teens to tears, Hearst Magazines announced it would close down CosmoGirl! with its December issue due to rising costs and shrinking ad page numbers. Founded by Atoosa Rubenstein in 2000, the magazine has fought the tide of teen magazine closures over the past couple of years, including Teen People and ElleGirl in 2006.

However, Hearst is ready with new magazine blood – it will partner with Food Network to launch Food Network Magazine with a premiere test issue that hits newsstands nationwide tomorrow, as well as six issues planned for 2009. The magazine will feature prominent Food Network hosts, including Ina Garten, Paula Deen, Tyler Florence and Alton Brown.

“We are proud of our leadership in the teen category and remain committed to this audience,” said a Hearst spokesperson. “We will continue to publish Seventeen and its annual Seventeen PROM issue as well as focus on the Hearst Teen Network of websites, which includes Cosmogirl.com, Seventeen.com, Teenmag.com, eSpin.com, MyPromStyle.com, and MisQuinceMag.com.”

But media experts say the closure could mean the teen category could simply be nearing the end of an era.

“Part of me says it’s nothing more than a sign of the times,” said Roberta Garfinkle, senior vice president and director of print strategy at media buying agency TargetCast TCM, of the CosmoGirl shutdown. “The teenage girl marketplace has moved on – these magazines were hot, and now they’re not.”

She added the magazine industry is probably in a similar stage as it was during the late 1980s, when many magazines folded.

“The magazine companies are not going to be able to support less-than-profitable titles anymore – it’s that simple,” she said.

The Hearst-Food Network partnership, she pointed out, is a natural pairing.

“With more and more people staying in and cooking at home because of the economy, it makes a great deal of sense,” she said. “And it gives Hearst as a company something they did not have – an epicurean book.”

CosmoGirl! publisher Vicki Wellington will helm Food Network Magazine.

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