Tag Archives: Cooking Light

The death of Southern Progress?

Birmingham publisher drops company Web site

Once among Birmingham’s largest publishing companies, Southern Progress Corporation has shrunk in population by more than half in less than 2 years. Its personnel have consolidated in two of three buildings on its Lakeshore Drive campus. It has closed down two magazines and sold off one operation. Many functions — human resources, marketing, accounting, building operations — have been consolidated or moved to Time Inc.’s New York headquarters.

And now, it has shuttered its online presence, southernprogress.com. The site now redirects to the Time Inc. corporate site. [view of site cached in Google]

southernprogress.com site1

Southernprogress.com: 2008 version (from archive.org)

southernprogress.com site2

Southernprogress.com: 2010 incomplete version
(from Google cache)

For some time, Southern Progress has been fading into oblivion, as sweeping changes throughout the publisher have roiled the Birmingham-based operation. In essence, the corporation that was formed 30 years ago and sold to Time Inc. 25 years ago barely exists, even as its employees still work under the existing titles Southern Living, Cooking Light, Health, Coastal Living, Oxmoor House, MyRecipes.com, MyHomeIdeas.com and Sunset.

Is the city losing one of its publishing companies to consolidation, economics and neglect?

Update March 24: This very report has spawned this odd headline … “Southern Progress not dead, Time Inc. says.”

Photo: Nelson Glass

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EXCLUSIVE: Cooking Light adds to Southern Progress layoffs

The bloodshed continues at Southern Progress Corporation.

cooking-light-nov-2009-coverThe fall layoffs continued into week 2 at the Birmingham-based publisher: Media of Birmingham has learned from company sources that five Cooking Light editorial staffers were laid off Tuesday.

Update Nov. 12: We’re revising the total to six laid off Thursday. Worth noting: Editor Mary Kay Culpepper left in September; executive editor Billy Sims is leaving voluntarily; and managing editor Maelynn Cheung was laid off in this round. Which means all three top positions at the mag have been vacated in the last 2 months.

The Time Inc. outfit laid off 48 employees Thursday, including 13 in Southern Living’s editorial department, eight in SPConnect (formerly Custom Publishing) and three in human resources.

The news comes as Time Inc. reports a third-quarter ad revenue drop of $129 million, or 22 percent, compared to the same quarter in 2008. And yet, despite that gloomy news, Cooking Light had a 27 percent increase in December ad pages, while Southern Living had a 34 percent increase. Both figures for the Southern Progress titles are self reported to the Publishers Information Bureau.

With additional reports coming in, the count for this round stands at 54 people laid off.

Update Nov. 12: The Birmingham Business Journal reports two possible but opposing outcomes. First, Time Inc. spokeswoman Debra Richman said the company will hire back “a number of positions” but did not elaborate on how many or which jobs. Second, the story concludes with, “Southern Progress sources said they expect layoffs to continue through December.”

If you’ve been laid off from SPC, or know someone who has, please let us know via our contact form. We’ll keep your personal information confidential.

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EXCLUSIVE: Dozens laid off this morning at Southern Progress

southern-progress-corp-logoAs part of Time Inc’s plan to lay off 6 percent of its workforce, Birmingham-based publisher Southern Progress Corporation began laying off dozens of employees this morning, according to our sources.

Update: The total number of people laid off today stands at 48, or a 12 percent to 13 percent reduction in workforce at Southern Progress.

The hardest hit groups appear to be accounting and Southern Living’s editorial staff. Others in support roles and on the business side were laid off. Several Cooking Light staffers reportedly took buyouts.

Coastal Living, Health and SPC Digital appear to have escaped this round with no layoffs.

Southern Progress magazines continued to see declines in advertising revenue in the third quarter.

Time Inc. filed notice Wednesday with the New York Department of Labor that it plans to lay off 280 workers within New York State between Nov. 2 and Jan. 31.

Update: The Birmingham News has an official statement from Time Inc.

Update: Southern Progress is also closing its corporate library and has plans to lease one of its three buildings after moving staff into the other two buildings.

Update Nov. 6: The New York Post reports that in addition to the cuts in the Lifestyle Group in Birmingham, three Real Simple staff members were laid off in New York.

If you’ve been laid off from SPC, or know someone who has, please let us know via our contact form. We’ll keep your personal information confidential.

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EXCLUSIVE: Hoffman’s Cooking with Paula Deen drops 14.1 percent in 3rd quarter


Birmingham-based magazines continued their ad sales slump when comparing their third quarters of 2008 and 2009. The most surprising drop came from Hoffman Media’s Cooking With Paula Deen, which fell 14.1 percent according to figures from the Magazine Publishers of America. The magazine had increased 3.2 percent between the first half of 2008 and 2009.

Meanwhile, with layoffs imminent at Southern Progress, the decline in ad sales continued among the five remaining titles. Coastal Living saw the biggest slump, dropping 13.6 percent, while Health Sunset remained nearly steady with a 0.3 percent drop. Southern Progress magazines saw a 6.9 percent drop overall.

U.S. magazines lost 18.6 percent average in ad sales from 2008 to 2009 during the third quarter.


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‘Biggest mass firing’ in 2009 coming to Southern Progress, Time Inc.

Next week likely to determine who goes at Birmingham operation

southern-progress-corp-logoTime Inc. plans to cut 6 percent of its 9,000-member workforce before Thanksgiving, according to a report today in the New York Post. Its Birmingham-based Southern Progress is expected to dole out pink slips as soon as Thursday, say company insiders. Time Inc. will release third quarter earnings on Wednesday.

The scale of the layoffs means Time Inc. holds the distinction of the biggest mass firing in publishing this year, outpacing the 460-plus involuntary terminations at rival Condé Nast.

As previously reported, Southern Progress has cut 41.4 percent of its Birmingham staff in the past 12 months, eliminating 290 positions. However, this quarter’s cuts are expected to go deeper …

The Birmingham, Ala.-based Southern Progress, whose flagship title is Southern Living, escaped major hits in the round of layoffs unveiled in the fourth quarter of last year. The division … will not be so lucky this time around, sources predicted.

Southern Progress also oversees Cooking Light, Health, Coastal Living and Sunset magazines and Myhomeideas.com and Myrecipes.com. It closed Cottage Living and Southern Accents magazines and sold Southern Living at Home.

Time Inc. cut 6 percent of its 10,000-member workforce in 2008. All Southern Progress titles lost ad revenue between the third quarter of 2008 and 2009.

Read more stories on Southern Progress.

Update Nov. 3: The New York Times reports Time Inc. has begun layoffs at Sports Illustrated, and that layoff meetings begin Wednesday morning at other titles.

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The new look of Cooking Light and Southern Living

Two Birmingham-based Southern Progress magazines, Cooking Light and Southern Living, have rolled out major redesigns in the past month.

Cooking Light

cooking light september 2009 coverOur exclusive news on the changing editors at Cooking Light pulled in some strong comments about the magazine’s redesign, unveiled in September.

Cooking Light asked one blogger to review the new look, and give away a copy as well. Tina of Mommy’s Kitchen wrote, “Adding pictures to each recipe was a awesome idea on their part.” (The magazine asked for another blogger’s opinion.)

Emily at Cooking Inside the Lines also liked the redesign: “As a devout reader of Cooking Light magazine my message to the editorial staff is … I completely approve!”

But Emily Brackett at Visible Logic disagrees, saying the magazine “has taken a turn for the worse.”

Southern Living

southern living october 2009 coverThe Washington Post wrote about October’s makeover of Southern Living: “The redesigned October issue, which has pumpkin-shaped cakes on the cover and hits newsstands Sept. 29, is not a radical change.”

Editor in chief Eleanor Griffin tells Mr. Magazine, “I want to give them (readers) something pleasurable, I want to give them a memory, I want to give them an experience.”

Reaction on the magazine’s forum seems mixed so far.

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Have you seen the redesigns? What do you think? Tell us in the comments.

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EXCLUSIVE: Cooking Light’s editor steps down

Mary Kay Culpepper leaves; Scott Mowbray appointed as replacement

Mary Kay CulpepperScott MowbrayMedia of Birmingham has learned that editor Mary Kay Culpepper is leaving Cooking Light magazine on Oct. 1. Time Inc. executive vice president Sylvia Auton has named Health.com editor Scott Mowbray to replace her at the Southern Progress title.

Cooking Light, started in 1987, debuted a redesign this month created by Mowbray’s design team. The title is ranked No. 51 among U.S. magazines, and No. 7 among Time Inc. mags. Its ad revenue dropped 16 percent from the first half of 2008 to the first half of this year.

Culpepper has led the magazine since 2001 and has been at Southern Progress since 1986. Mowbray has previously served as editor of Popular Science magazine and managing editor of Time Inc. Custom Publishing.

Update: Culpepper says she will pursue a graduate degree in creativity studies at SUNY Buffalo starting in the spring.

Among editors at Birmingham-based Southern Progress, Southern Living’s Eleanor Griffin and Coastal Living’s Lindsay Bierman have been in place less than a year, and Health’s Ellen Kunes has been in place less than 3 years.

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EXCLUSIVE: Magazine ad sales: Southern Progress loses 16.9 percent

Southern Progress magazine 2009 ad sales

Magazine ad sales for saw declines for all five Southern Progress titles comparing the first halves of 2008 and 2009, according to figures from the Magazine Publishers of America. The Birmingham-based titles — Coastal Living, Cooking Light, Health, Southern Accents and Southern Living — all saw drops in ad revenue from 8 percent (Health) to 32.1 percent (Southern Accents).

First quarter comparisons weren’t nearly as dire for Cooking Light and Southern Living, but Southern Accents’ ad sales performance has weakened in the second quarter. Southern Progress magazines lost 16.9 percent in ad revenues, earning $209 million so far in 2009.

Meanwhile, another Birmingham-based magazine, Hoffman Media’s Cooking With Paula Deen, had a 3.2 percent increase in ad sales comparing the first halves of 2008 and 2009.

U.S. magazines lost 21 percent in ad sales overall during the first half of 2009.

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Magazine ad sales: Southern Progress slumps, Hoffman gains

cooking with paula deen cover

Magazines at Birmingham-based Southern Progress Corporation saw big drops in ad sales comparing the first quarter of 2008 and 2009:

  • -28.9 percent: Southern Accents
  • -26.9 percent: Southern Living
  • -11.4 percent: Cooking Light

But Hoffman Media saw an increase in ad sales during the same quarter for one magazine:

  • +14.7 percent: Cooking With Paula Deen

U.S. magazines lost 20.6 percent in ad sales overall during the first quarter.

30 laid off at Southern Progress; top executives retire

Time Inc. Layoffs Hit Southern Progress Unit

The cuts that have been rumored for weeks at Time Inc. are starting to become reality. About 30 people were laid off Oct. 22 at the company’s Southern Progress Corp. unit, which publishes seven titles including Southern Living, Cottage Living, Cooking Light and Health.

The layoffs, representing 3 percent of SPC, were limited to the unit’s seven print magazines and were spread across business and editorial. Southern Progress’ digital and books units were not affected.

Time Inc. says Southern Progress CEO Angelillo, other execs have retired

Southern Progress Corp. Chief Executive Tom Angelillo and three other top executives have retired today, according to parent company Time Inc.

Other retirees are group publisher Scott Sheppard, editorial director Jeanetta Corbett Keller and administrative vice president Lane Schmitt.

New York-based Time announced no replacements.