In a move Condé Nast is billing as a “transformation,” a nice word to describe the layoffs happening across all their properties, Self is cutting their print publication. The editor of their website, Carolyn Kylstra, is taking over as Editor-in-Chief of the whole publication, replacing Joyce Chang. Fewer than 20 people will reportedly be laid off.
Self launched in 1979, bounding into the ’80s at the dawn of the health and wellness movement. Two years ago, longtime editor Lucy Danziger was fired, and the magazine rebranded (the year after they had announced a previous rebrand...), shifting to look a little cleaner and more modern. The publication has been in the line of fire for awhile, made to share business teams with Glamour, and now only publishes 10 times a year. Condé has also recently closed Details, and reduced Teen Vogue’s publishing rate to four times a year, while moving it under Vogue.
In a press release about the change, Condé touted Self’s success in video, their recently redesigned website (their September “relaunch feature” was devoted to women’s bodies of all shapes and sizes), and their subsequent traffic improvements. They quite obviously want all those areas to continue to improve via the influence of Kylstra’s web background (she spent time at Women’s Health’s website and BuzzFeed); in a statement, Artistic Director/Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Anna Wintour credited her “pivotal role in refining and focusing Self.” The release also emphasized how financially important health and wellness coverage is from an advertising perspective.
“Self was an iconic brand,” Danziger told the New York Post of the print side’s demise, adding that it started to get competition from “bloggers, fitness gurus, nutritionists and other healthy living advocates,” making the magazine appear “dated.” Indeed, a 1995 New York Times article suggests that Self was on the forefront of moving to the web, which does not mean that it remained successful enough to financially succeed as a print publication:
Publishers of women’s magazines have been scrambling to find an on-line niche, despite the fact that surveys show that only 20 percent of the 5.2 million subscribers to the top commercial on-line services are women.
Many of the magazines, including Elle and Women’s Day, have chosen to team with large providers like America Online to draw women into cyberspace. But Self, which aims at educated women with high incomes, has decided to bypass the big services in favor of an experimental in-house approach to building an interactive presence.
The last Self print issue—aside from special one-offs—will be the February 2017 issue.