If you need more proof that readers are drifting away from traditional print magazines and newspapers in favor of online media, you need look no further than Time, Inc. which accounted today it is ceasing publication of the much-celebrated, iconic photojournalism magazine Life in favor of an online-only offering.
Life has been through many incarnations since 1936, when Henry Luce (who’d previously launched Time and Fortune) bought the title from previous owners in order to establish a photojournalism magazine. The title started out as a weekly in the midst of the Great Depression, met with phenomenal success, although rising costs and low newsstand sales eventually shut down in 1972. Although the title at times eschewed world affairs in favor of feel-good pieces and celebrity features, at times it did a remarkable job of capturing moments of American history and consistently featured brilliant photography, including enduring images and portraits from Alfred Eisenstaedt, whose photographs graced on 87 Life covers.
In 1978, Time resurrected Life magazine as a monthly publication focussing on general interest stories and news, and the magazine struggled until another shutdown in March, 2000. Following the AOl-Time Warner merger, special issues of Life began to appear in special newstand issues, and in October 2004 the magazine was revived again at as a free supplement in U.S. newspapers. However, competing with Parade and USA Weekend was apparently too much for the old title; Time Inc. chief executive Anne Moore noted: “The market has moved dramatically since October 2004, and it is no longer appropriate to continue publication of Life as a newspaper supplement.”
The last issue of Life—at least in its current print incarnation—will be published April 20, 2007, after which it will convert to an online-only property under a reduced staff. Time says it plans to make Life’s entire collection of over 10 million images available online—most of those images were never published in print editions, and haven’t been released to the public.