Oprah’s magazine to scale back print production, refocus on digital

While most magazines saw a decline in sales around 2009, O’s circulation gained about 5%.

Oprah Winfrey speaks during Oprah's 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour presented by WW (Weight Watchers Reimagined) at Pepsi Center on March 07, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Tom Cooper/Getty Images)

Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, will scale back its print production following the resignation of its parent firm’s president.

Despite the magazine’s performance, staffers were told last Friday that the December 2020 issue will be the publication’s last.

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Hearst issued a statement on Monday in response to the news, clarifying that the Oprah Magazine brand was not going away but being reimagined.

“As the brand celebrates twenty years of O, The Oprah Magazine, we’re thinking about what’s next, but again the partnership and the brand are not going away,” the statement read. “This is a natural next step for the brand, which has grown to an online audience of 8 million, extending its voice and vision with video and social content. We will continue to invest in this platform as the brand grows and evolves into one that is more digitally-centric.”

Winfrey added her own thoughts on the announcement, saying, “I’m proud of this team and what we have delivered to our readers over the past 20 years. I look forward to the next step in our evolution.”

Former president of Hearst Communications, Troy Young, 52, resigned last Thursday. According to magazine employees, he created a toxic environment by saying sexually offensive things, The New York Times reported.

The Times reports that Young made suggestive remarks about sex toys and emailed pornography to a senior editor.

Founded by Winfrey and Hearst Communications, a multinational mass media conglomerate, O has been in production since 2000.

Each issue features Winfrey and on the rarest occasion, a companion. One issue featured former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Hearst also publishes Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Elle

READ MORE: O Magazine powerfully tackles race in May issue

Prachi Gupta, an Indian reporter who covered politics for Cosmopolitan, recalled how Black and brown women were made to “feel less than equal” at the company.

“Because there were no women of color in leadership positions, I was not able to seek advice or counsel when I was pushed into some of the uncomfortable positions,” she said, NYT reported. 

While most magazines saw a decline in sales around 2009, O’s circulation gained about 5%, according to the Associated Press.

O also has a large Black subscriber base compared to most publications. Black subscribers represent 35% of O’s readers. 

In terms of a having diverse female readers, the magazine is second only to Essence Magazine, beating BuzzFeed, Instyle, Refinry29, and sister publication Elle, according to Oprah’s media kit.

The magazine has an average circulation of 2.2 million copies and an audience of about 10 million.

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