Aug 30, 2009

A specialized diet at Readers Digest

To survive both the decline in print and America's great differentiation, the now-bankrupt Readers Digest plans to transform itself from a general-interest publication into something better suited to our fragmented society.

As Robert Rector observes, Readers Digest once traded on a caricature of the upright, white, suburban middle-class family and, in doing so, gained a broad audience in an America that strove to be a being part of that world. The Internet has punctuated and amplified the cracks in this worldview, and now Readers Digest must become a caricature of itself. It will strip away the veneer of mainstream appeal and follow the cultural guideposts of the sect called American conservative.

Rector writes:
...the Digest, after years of trying to broaden its appeal, is being pushed in a decidedly conservative direction.

It is cutting down on celebrity profiles and ramping up on inspiring spiritual stories. Out are generic how-to magazine features; in are articles about military life. ...

Indeed, the Digest plans to introduce a new multifaceted effort produced with Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor, called the Purpose Driven Connection. For about $30, subscribers get a quarterly magazine with religious workbooks, along with DVDs featuring Warren, and membership in a social-networking Web site, including tips on what to pray for each week. It is available through churches and at Wal-Marts.


Anonymous said...

So, in essence, RD is going back to what it once was.
Who is responsible for trying to "fix" something that wasn't broken in the first place, and the subsequent bankruptcy?
Can't blame "decline in print" for this one; while advertising is down on the whole among them, magazines aren't the same animal as newspapers. RD had a strong audience, and then the magazine tried to change, and by not being loyal to its audience, lost readers.
It's not rocket science.
And now it's not only going back to its original conservative voice, it's jumping the shark and jumping into the evangelical pool.
Another case of too much, too late.

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