Just earlier this month, the Trinidad Newsday made a startling decision to cancel both of its flagship Sunday magazines – the Woman’s Weekly and the MENtality. Given the near two year run of the latter for every week of those two years, the decision came as a suprise to the producers of the magazine, the writers, photographers and other staffers. Furthermore, if you thought dog years were a big number, ever wondered what magazine years were for those produced in Trinidad. To have lived as long as a MACO or SCORCH brand is no small feat.
As a bit of backstory, the Newsday subcontracted the production of these magazines to local production houses, Saltwater Studios in the case of the Woman’s Weekly and Julie Mango Productions in the case of the MENtality. So, the decision to cancel the magazines, was actually a cancellation of the agreement between the Newsday and these production houses.
Add to that, that the week of the decision, the MENtality would take home seven, yes, count them, SEVEN Addy Awards for design including one Gold in 2013, as detailed in the ad run here and previously the Woman’s Weekly won two Silver Addys in Publication Design for Newsday Woman’s Weekly Magazine Covers and Spreads and one Gold Addy in Magazine Design for Newsday Woman’s Weekly Magazine Issue # 01 in 2012. Moreover, an insider source suggested that the Woman’s Weekly was dominating Sunday readership according to a poll reviewed by the Newsday just prior to cancellation.
Only in Trinidad and Tobago, would an award-winning magazine(s) be cancelled. But there’s more.
To add insult to injury, without notification to any of the previous staffers, the magazines returned the following week! No writers, photographers or designers were invited back on board to what was now called “Woman’s Weekly with MENtaliy” and was now being produced in-house by the Newsday themselves! So the truth revealed itself. The Newsday it appeared wanted full control of the magazines and was going to produce them in-house.
Unfortunately for the Newsday, the takeaway here is that nothing was taken away from their relationship with their production houses. The award-winning design also, is now gone, replaced by a new logo and branding that is a sudden SHIFT from what was offered to the Sunday reader before. Photographic standards and writing guidelines have been replaced also as the Newsday’s in-house writers, perhaps more trained in news reporting, have to now create a features magazine. And both magazines lost their previously maintained personalities – the men’s was at the cutting edge of cool and the women’s was bright, colourful and positive. Imagine waking to a brand new Vogue or GQ logo and layout; it would simply never happen.
As a production house for publications, this type of media management is absolutely unforgiveable. All attempts should have been made for a seemless transition so that the public, firstly should never have noticed and secondly, so that the persons involved could have continued to offer their services and transfer of knowledge to the new producers. What a shame that this local press house has treated a stellar group of award-winning and well-loved magazines with such indignity and by extension, their readership with such disrespect.