Pour one out for Oprah: After 20 years of print publication, O: The Oprah Magazine is ceasing “regular print production” in December.
Business of Fashion reports that the timing of this news, which comes just as Hearst President Troy Young’s resigned after allegations of sexual harassment, is merely coincidental; the decision to shutter the print magazine in favor of moving towards a more digital approach has been in the works for a while. “I look forward to the next step in our evolution,” Oprah herself said in a statement about the magazine’s closure.
Despite Oprah’s confidence, what that next step will be isn’t entirely clear. According to a Hearst representative, the publication will “be reinventing how we deliver Oprah’s unique perspective on issues that are more important than ever, including health and well-being, climate change, and social justice.” This tracks for any publication in 2020, especially one like O: The Oprah Magazine, which features softball lifestyle content aimed at women looking to live, laugh, and love with impunity. The magazine’s mantra, “Live Your Best Life,” is reflected in its pages, as evidenced by its most popular issue: the annual holiday gift guide, Oprah’s Favorite Things. The segment on her television show was always a must-see event, and some of the allure was lost when the show went off the air and the guide was moved to the pages of the magazine, but its mark left on the culture is indelible. It’s telling that the magazine’s new direction will swing towards climate change and social justice—a marked departure from its usual stance which is largely apolitical and dedicated mostly to self-care.
As the rest of print media dies a slow death, O: The Oprah Magazine held steady, with a solid readership of 2.3 million readers per month—a perplexing statistic until you actually come across an issue in the wild. Recently, an issue of the magazine was delivered to my house and I was surprised to find that it was a soothing, pleasant, and somewhat inspiring read. Nice to find small pleasures wherever they may be.
Update 2:19 P.M.: Hearst PR wrote to clarify that there will be some sort of print product “and we are evaluating what that will look like beyond the December 2020 issue.”