Magazine ads/malaise

Anyone wondering why Time magazine is so skinny these days? Marvelling at the fat People on the newstands? Take a look at this graph compiled by the U.S. Project for Excellence in Journalism, showing changes in advertising. Says the blurb above the feature at journalism. org, “It’s been a rough year for the three major U.S. newsweeklies and a boom year for the celebrity/gossip magazines, according to the most recent advertising numbers released by the industry.

“New numbers from the Publishers Information Bureau (PIB), measuring ad pages in about 250 titles find that industry-wide, magazines have experienced a slight decline again in ad pages (about a 1% percent drop) this year, and since 2001 they are down more than 10%. The numbers compare totals for the first nine months in 2007 to the same period in the prior year….. Time and Newsweek, especially, have had a bad run over the last few years. Both titles saw double-digit declines in ad pages in 2005 and then an essentially flat 2006. If both continue on their current 2007 path, they will see their lowest ad-page counts in 20 years. The holiday season and its annual big bump in ad buys loom. But even with sizeable fourth-quarter increases the PIB report indicates they would finish with their lowest ad page figures since 2001, when the numbers crashed.”

So … ads and presumably readership of serious American news journalism plunged in 2001, the year 9/11 happened and the democracy that’s the self-proclaimed “leader of the free world”  — and the U.S. administration — faced a series of historic trials that would afffect not just Americans, but the world.

Is it just me, or something very seriously wrong with this picture?

(Disclosure: I was a Time contributing reporter until Canada’s bureau closed last year and still, very rarely, do freelance reporting for it)