The Advocate To Win Over Readers With … Heavier Card Stock?

The Global Media Apocalypse has forced some belt tightening over at The Advocate today as the magazine moves from a bi-weekly to monthly format, slimming down from 22 issues a year to 12. The Jan. 10th cover of the magazine will be the first issue in the new format, which also features slightly heavier paper stock and a promise to focus less on celebrity covers (crazy talk in the publishing industry). The new-ish editorial team blames the old editorial team for its current woes, which you know, is what you do, but it’s funny that editor Jon Barret mentions “an auto column” as something that “sometimes missed the mark” in the old regime while Vanity Fair just added a gay auto blog called Stick Shift this year. And it’s awesome! Maybe someone should write a column about deck chair rearranging on sinking ships, instead.

All sorts of fun “We know what we’re doing now” plans are detailed in a story by Media Week:

“Jon Barrett, who took over as editor in June, said The Advocate had gone too far in covering politics and gay subgroups, and that the service content introduced by the former editor, such as an auto column, sometimes missed the mark. Barrett, who earned his service magazine stripes at titles like Hearst Magazines’ now-folded O at Home and Time Inc.’s Real Simple, will introduce six new service columns on topics including finance and health, while covering issues from an insider perspective that he said readers won’t find elsewhere. February’s Obama cover story will tackle legislative matters important to gays, ahead of the mainstream press, for example.”

We’re sort of stumped by this news that Barrett sees news as the one thing holding The Advocate back from success, and what the gays really want, is more columns about how they can save up for their latest boot camp regime. But hey, we’re just a blog. What do we know?

(Also: Laughable that a monthly magazine thinks it can beat “the mainstream press.” Good luck with that.)

“For the first nine months of 2008, The Advocate’s ad pages fell 16.7 percent to 361, according to Publishers Information Bureau. (Out’s declined 2.7 percent to 393 in the same period.) Joe Landry–who returned as senior vp, publisher of parent Regent Media, in June after a 14-month stint as president of BlackBook Media–said the editorial changes and heftier paper weight would better position The Advocate to go after categories like packaged goods, luxury goods and travel. “A biweekly newsmagazine is not a sustainable model,” he said. “Certainly, it doesn’t make sense when people are getting their news online.”

Oh right, we totally forgot that it’s blogs like Queerty that have rendered print dinosaurs like The Advocate irrelevant. It’s got to suck when a key component of your rescue is heavier paper stock.

And the magazine, owned by the gay media conglomerate Regent Media, plans to synergize the hell out of itself, so advertisers can reach The Advocate‘s dwindling subscriber base while also marketing themeslves on Regent’s irrelevant television network Here!.

“In what he hopes will be the first of many ad deals including print and the here! TV network, Landry said he’s in the process of wrapping up a deal with Holland’s tourism board that would include pages in The Advocate; sponsorship of a film on Holland that would air on the here! TV network; and pre- and post-roll ads surrounding video clips taken from the movie footage that would run on The Advocate’s Web site.”

This is just all-around sad news.

Rather than realizing that print is a lost cause and focusing on reshaping The Advocate into a media organization that reflects the realities of, say, 2009, Regent is doubling down on a dying format.

Perhaps Out — with its focus on luxury goods, models in art-directed photo shoots, and general status-obsession — has a better than average chance of surviving as a print publication; people like that kind of thing on their coffee table. However, if The Advocate wants to be the gay news source, it ought to, as we suggested in our New Year’s resolution to Regent president Paul Colichman, spend more resources beefing up the pub’s reporting staff and focusing on online content than to spend it on the misguided belief that some homo is going to pick up the new Advocate and say, “Honey, look! It’s got thicker paper now! Let’s subscribe!”

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