The not-so-glossy future of magazines: Bauer Media have axed eight iconic Australian magazines

Since COVID-19 became a full-blown pandemic, it’s no secret many industries are facing major financial challenges. The uncertain future of the media landscape has forced the closure of some of Australia’s most iconic magazines. (Image Source: Happy Mag)

By Rebecca Gaitaneris  | @bec_gaitaneris

ELLE. InStyle. Harper’s BAZAAR. Women’s Health. Men’s Health. Good Health. NW. OK! For generations, magazines such as these have informed Australian women and men, serving as fashion manuals, travel bibles, as well as tackling ‘taboo’ topics.

For many Australians, it most likely came as a shock when Bauer Media axed eight of their iconic Australian publications following the company’s announcement that publication is “sadly no longer viable”.

Bauer Media’s CEO Brendon Hill said in the press release announcing the closures that the “sudden and widespread” impact of coronavirus was not anticipated and came as quite a shock for the media giant.

“We, like many other media companies, have deeply felt the impact of COVID-19,” he said.

“The reinstatement of these titles and teams was always dependent on the advertising market bouncing back and the return of domestic and international travel.”

 “This is a devastating blow to those who are directly affected, the entire Bauer team and the industry as a whole.”

How did it come to this?

The Australian magazine industry, known for its glossy covers featuring our favourite celebrities, actors and musicians, struggled tremendously in the last few years to attract paying customers and loyal subscriptions, which contributed to the industry’s downfall.

An article in The Australian stated magazine readership has been declining for years, which in turn hit ad revenue, but the coronavirus crisis made things much worse, with government lockdowns hurting magazine sales at train stations and airports.

Though the coronavirus accelerated the decline of magazines, audiences, particularly the younger readership, seem to be leaning more towards social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, as well as other online news sources for their entertainment, lifestyle news and gossip.

So while the final nail in the coffin for Bauer Media was the coronavirus, the decline in readership comes as no real surprise.

Reactions

Many of these magazines have a long history of promoting local and international talent, whether it is a designer’s latest fashion collection, an emerging actress, a musician in the making, or a rising supermodel.

Since the announcement of the magazine closures, many Australian household names that have featured on covers paid tribute to these iconic magazines.

With countless magazine covers under her belt, fitness model Laura Henshaw took to her Instagram to share her devastation after hearing about their closures.

“I am absolutely devastated to hear the news about the end of so many of our special Australian magazines,” she wrote.

“Being on the cover of [Women’s Health Australia] was a highlight of my career.”

Australian television personality and model Tim Robards paid tribute to Men’s Health Australia, which he called a magazine “legacy”. 

“This mag has represented the pinnacle of achievement, drive and a huge source of inspiration and reward for me,” he wrote.

“Thanks so much [Men’s Health Australia] for all the inspiration you have brought to my life and I’m sure many others!”

Other celebrities and readers have labelled the magazine closures as the end of an era.

So I’m sure the question on all our minds is, what now? What will the future of magazines actually entail?

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