3rd Strike: Time Shutters ‘Life’

NEW YORK Three years after relaunching Life magazine as a newspaper supplement, its third incarnation, Time Inc. said it would fold the title with the April 20 issue, citing the decline in the newspaper business and outlook for ad revenue in the newspaper supplement category.

Life magazine was a truly innovative publishing venture. It was developed, edited and published by some of the best talent in the business and we can remain proud of its many achievements. But sometimes we have to make tough calls, and this was one,” Time CEO Ann Moore said in a statement. “Growth requires taking risks and the potential upside was huge, but unfortunately the timing worked against us. The market has moved dramatically since October 2004 and it is no longer appropriate to continue publication of Life as a newspaper supplement.”

The iconic title, which will continue to operate online and through its books, had begun to find its footing after a rocky start since its most recent reincarnation.

Ad pages rose 5.4 percent to 395 last year through Dec. 25, per Mediaweek Monitor, and the magazine had boasted dozens of new advertisers in 2006, including Wal-Mart and Frito-Lay, and an increase in investment by pharmaceutical marketers.

Year to date through March 23, however, ad pages declined 10 percent to 83.

Life added 1 million in distribution earlier this year when The Washington Post joined the more than 100 other carrier papers, bringing its combined distribution to 13 million. Life was still dwarfed by the other newspaper supplements, Gannett’s USA Weekend and Advance Magazines’ Parade.

Life began in 1936 and published weekly until 1972. It was issued periodically until 1978, when it went to a monthly format. It closed in 2000 until it was resurrected as a weekly supplement in October 2004.

The magazine also will continue with its plan to launch a major portal to put online its entire collection of 10 million images, including the work of photographers such as Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White and Gordon Parks.