After forty – five years, Cosmopolitan Australia is set to close it’s doors. CEO of Bauer Media, Paul Dykzeul released a statement confirming the closure, stating “commercial viability is no longer stable for magazines”.
This is the third magazine that Bauer Media has stopped producing, with Dolly having stopped the production of it’s paper magazine in 2016 and Cleo also ended print editions the same year.
What’s going on?
I’ve written before how I find it disheartening that women’s media is slowly collapsing. Not only have I felt it as a consumer on and off for fiften years, but it has also made me wonder about the future as a female content creator.
Frankly, I find the reasoning questionable. Newscorp, Fairfax and other media outlets around the world have been able to transfer their content online and create a paid subscription service. I’ve also seen a number of Cosmopolitan companies producing apps for women with a small subscription fee (you can also buy single editions of different magazines from around the world).
So, why couldn’t Cosmopolitan Australia, Cleo and Dolly just go digital and have subscribers pay a fee per month?
Now I get it. I think paid subscription services, especially for independent, little – known media companies is risky and, frankly, I don’t think it’s always viable. But, for newspapers and magazines like Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph and Cosmopolitan, Dolly and Cleo; products that have been consumed and trusted for decades, why can’t they transfer to digital and remain in business?
Is women’s media just not profitable?
When Cosmopolitan started by author of Sex and the Single Girl, Helen Gurley Brown, it was revolutionary. The idea that women didn’t have to be married to own their sexuality. However, Gurley Brown was accused of spreading the message that women needed a man and playing down sexual harassment.
Yet, her product worked. For generations, women were informed and entertained by articles that thousands, if not millions of women could relate to. Also, Cosmopolitan evolved, and they were instrumental in campaigning for same – sex marriage last year.
They have explored same – sex relationships and fluid sexuality. However, I have asked whether they’re approach helped or hindered campaign towards LGBTQ+ rights.
Has women’s media hit a dead – end?
Is it possible that women’s media is just not needed anymore? Are women just sick of reading the same relationship advice, same old sex advice, etc? Over the years, I know I have been. While I do appreciate some of what magazines like Cosmopolitan Australia, Cleo and Dolly have done for me and countless other women, it got to the point, where, frankly, they were monotonous. It was the same old, same old: same relationship advice, same fashion advice, same… advertisements. Like Cleo before it, Cosmopolitan Australia ended up lacking on high – quality articles that made me a fan of them in the first place.
So, where does it leave women’s media, regardless of it’s format? Personally, I want high – quality articles and commentary. I want to read about people’s first – hand experiences and things they’ve overcome. I want commentary that is well written and offers a strong argument for or against an issue (or a fair, well – written piece featuring both sides of an argument).
I want media that doesn’t make women feel like they need more to be enough, (which, ironically, was the business model that made Cosmopolitan a successful brand for nearly fifty years).
I want health to be promoted, rather than the debate on size, not the dangerous extremes. I want articles that focus on exercises that most people can do without too much trouble. And recipes that are easy and stuff that most people would actually eat. I also want LGBTQ+ and people of colour represented without being a gimmick.
The end of an era in women’s media is coming. But surely women’s media itself doesn’t have to. Maybe the format… and content of women’s media in the future will just have to evolve.
Have you been reading Cosmopolitan (Australian or otherwise)? What did you get out of it? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.