Magazines Targeted To Black Women Suffer & Die

Once upon a time — last year — Vibe Vixen, fashion and lifestyle spinoff of Vibe, had plans to step up its frequency from twice to six times a year. Recently, reports MediaWeek, the magazine's publisher announced that the September issue would be the last stand-alone issue (the title will still have Web presence and quarterly "special issues"). The CEO of Vibe Media says, "I don't think it's a black women's magazine issue. It's a challenge of publishing young women's magazines. You need a million circ to attract the core beauty advertisers." But Essence, which has been around for 37 years, also has a problem with advertisers. The magazine has a circulation of 1.1 million and, according to its president, has a disproportionately small amount of fashion ads considering how much its readers spend on apparel. In addition to Vibe Vixen, other magazines for "urban" audiences have had trouble: Suede folded in 2005; Honey died in 2003; Heart & Soul's parent company went bankrupt, but the title was auctioned off and is still published out of Baltimore.

Part of the problem is that general magazines are embracing minorities more — although one Jennifer Hudson Vogue cover can't pick up all the slack. And, as Keith Clinkscales, who founded Vanguarde Media (which went bankrupt in 2003 and published Savoy, Honey, and Heart & Soul) notes, although mainstream magazines may have a woman of color on the cover now and then, the hiring of and providing content for women of color has been disappointing. "Men's magazines have stayed afloat by positioning themselves as urban lifestyle and thus attracting a multicultural audience, a tactic their female counterparts might do well to emulate," writes MediaWeek's Lucia Moses.

What sucks is that teen magazines like CosmoGirl! and Seventeen (as well as now-defunct Teen People and YM) are and were often very inclusive, in terms of hiring black, Latina and Asian models, suggesting beauty solutions for different skin tones and interviewing celebs like Rihanna, Alicia Keys and Beyoncé. But what happens when their readers graduate into a world in which no one seems to care about young women of color? They most likely turn to the weeklies, where they can get details on every move of no-talent rich kids from The Hills.

Black Women's Titles Continue Mainstream Struggle [MediaWeek]