Glossy Talk: Will Princess Kate save the glossy day?
Kate Middleton not only has the weight of the British monarchy on her slender shoulders: editors of glossy weekly gossipy magazines are hoping the princess will come through for them, too.
To get readers in a right royal mood, Woman's Day and New Idea have this week published tributes to the Danish royal couple, Prince Frederick and our Princess Mary and their newly named twins, Josephine and Vincent, as well as stories hooked on the April 29 do at Westminster Abbey.
"The Woman’s Day team worked late last week to get the special issue to NSW, Victoria and Queensland readers today, in what was a practice run leading up to the royal wedding when Woman’s Day will work through the night to bring readers a keepsake royal wedding issue in record time, on-sale on Sunday May 1, and to be distributed nationally," said a statement.
Additionally, The Day's stablemates GRAZIA and OK! will be working over the Royal Weekend to collate news and images of the event for publication on Sunday, and The Australian Women's Weekly will publish a collector's edition on sale Wednesday May 4.
"These special Woman’s Day, GRAZIA, OK! and The Australian Women’s Weekly issues represent a significant investment in editorial, production, distribution and marketing resources," ACP's managing director Phil Scott said in a statement. "They demonstrate ACP’s commitment to our readers who want and expect to know everything about the wedding of England’s future king and queen."
Suddenly, it's as if the glossies are performing a valuable and noble public service.
In light of research out today pointing to the doubling of the Australian cost of living, putting a further 7.5 per cent strain on households (double the inflation rate of 2.7 per cent) and crippling the average discretionary spend budget, the glossips have reason to be stationing themselves as indispensable commodities, standing their ground much like the Buckingham Palace guards.
Can we blame them? After so many years of helpfully propping up their sales with our dimes, of willingly being part of celebrity narratives such as "How many toes of Fergie's were sucked?", it does seem cruel, a tad Schadenfreudian, to desert them and see them suffer, much like seeing the high school Queen Bee go down in a blaze of bleach of her own hair-doing.
It's no big secret: the weeklies have been struggling to keep pace since the dawn of the celebrity-hungry internet site, both the stand-alone (like TMZ, Perez Hilton) and news portal (news.com.au, smh.com.au and ACP glossy veteran Mia Freedman's mamamia). New Idea and Woman's Day, at the height of their infamy in the early 90s, sold over a million copies a week; now they're pushed to shift 400,000.
The glossips have failed to differentiate their editorial offering from what's available online. And instead of making their mastheads valuable e-commodities, they shut themselves off, fearing cannibalisation. That tactic has clearly bitten them in the bum.
Women's media consumption habits have changed, too: now they are self-publishing on Facebook and blogs, and catching up on news while they're at it, between doing 85% of the housework for 10 hours a week and keeping their jobs down, too; hence, there's little time left over for the luxury of reclining on a couch reading a glossy. Much less those they distrust.
“I was buying Woman’s Day and New Idea but they have the same damn stories,” says one woman in her 50s with whom I broach the subject.
“Or else stories on the same thing that contradict each other,” chimes in her friend.
“They don’t tell the truth,” says another.
“Classic example! Olivia Newton John and “I’m thrilled to be a grandmother!” on the cover of New Idea. I bought it but, of course, her daughter had only just got engaged and wasn’t pregnant. It’s pure sensationalism.”
The fact that the ONJ cover was Woman's Day, not New Idea, is telling. Hmm. Credibility and differentiation issues.
Like the newspapers. Yes, those archaic bastions of the Fourth Estate have been quick to jump on the traditional glossip territory to lure in female readers, more particularly on Sundays, when we can get our fill of celebrity news along with fashion, recipes, health advice and human interest features.
Why spend your hard-earned cash reading about Shane Warne and Liz Hurley (dubbed by The Sunday Mail's Frances Whiting "Shurley") when you can click and read for not a dime or get it wrapped in newsprint on a Sunday?
The first quarter results for the glossip weeklies are due out in early May, when we'll get a clearer idea of how they've been faring in an environment of floods, global disaster relief funding, rising electricity costs and a return to the relative safety of saving post-GFC.
We won't know if Kate saved the day until July/August, when the June figures are released. But there's certainly a glow coming from within publishing houses about the princess-in-waiting, and her handsome husband-to-be, who seem to typify everything that the glossip magazines have been looking for: in short, the good news story through which they might be redeemed.
Given the part the celebrity media played in the role of the death of the late Diana Princess of Wales in 1997 (a resounding thumbs down) it will be terribly (tragically) ironic if she does. Still, where Camilla and Charles failed, the bride-to-be might just prove the salve that keeps the printed gossip media from its demise.
As Women's Weekly editor Helen McCabe has said, "This will be the ultimate fairytale wedding. It is a beautiful and uplifting love story between two young people who will devote their lives to serving others."
Girl With a Satchel
P.S. And, yes, I am aware that sites like GWAS dabble in glossip reporting for sport and therefore have a small vested interest in seeing that they live another day... albeit in more positively functional ways.