Anyone who has ever asked me where I got the recipe for something knows that I love Martha Stewart Living. I’ve been a subscriber for about five years, and my cooking would be completely undistinguished if I never found Martha.
When Martha went to jail, the big concern was what do you do when a brand is based on one person. (I think that’s a really interesting problem — it’s a similar to the issue discount tire chain Les Schwab faced when Les passed away.) So, as a devoted Martha-phile and a magazine editor, I cheered on Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia during its resurrection, and to be honest, I felt they turned themselves into a better company by focusing on their core strength: putting out great magazines.
I subscribed to Everyday Food, and when Blueprint came out, I thought, “FINALLY! A Martha magazine for me!” After too many boring recipes in Everyday Food (the coq au vin recipe was really good, though), I let my subscription lapse. And although Blueprint never quite delivered on its excellent promise (and premise), I stuck with it for the first two years. They had a change in editors, I liked what they seemed to be trying to do, so I thought it deserved a chance.
But here were my main issues with it:
- the 100 things section was pointless and difficult to read
- they covered the same topic (skin care) TWICE in something like six issues in their Medicine Cabinet department (which, by the way, was a great idea for a department)
- the crafts were lame
- the clothes were ridiculously expensive and unwearable
So when I read the story from Fishbowl that MSLO was shuttering Blueprint, I wasn’t surprised. OK, I was glad. It was a bad magazine — it never felt cohesive, and the editorial voice was snobby. It read like someone I would have avoided in college.
But that’s not where my concern for MSLO ends. Their flagship title, Martha Stewart Living, changed editors recently from editorial director Margaret Roach (who did a great job at the helm while Martha was in prison) to Michael Boodro. Instantly, I started liking Living less.
Why? The Good Things, the department I used to turn to as soon as the new issue arrived, is now filled with Mediocre Things. The recipes have become overly fussy. The October issue, always my favorite, had hardly any Halloween crafts, and even worse, didn’t even have a Halloween-themed cover (the October covers were always great).
And perhaps the worst indication of the new personality of the magazine: the editor’s letters are far too long. (Any magazine editor knows that a ridiculously long editor’s letter usually means that the editor is either a self-absorbed gasbag in love with his own writing or that he can’t meet his own deadlines, so all there’s time for is a quick proof before everyone else scrambles to get the issue off to the printer.)
Michael, we just don’t care about how you got those shots of the cranberry bogs. MS Living readers do want to peak under the hood, but not that hood. Cut the word length in half, point out a few highlights from the magazine, and sign off. But more importantly, get it back to being a magazine I love. The future of my subscription (and my mom’s gift subscription) is in your hands.
Now playing: “The Fallen” Franz Ferdinand, “Your Side of My World” Joe Henry