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Beloved Food Magazine ‘Cooking Light’ Is Ending Regular Print Issues

200 employees at Meredith Corp. were laid off amid a merger of Cooking Light and EatingWell

Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Some of America’s most reliable lifestyle and healthy-recipe magazines will disappear from mailboxes at the end of 2018. Less than a year after devouring Time Inc.’s collection of 22 food and lifestyle magazines, Meredith Corp. is scaling back two of its Birmingham, Alabama-based titles — Cooking Light and Coastal Living.

The publishing giant announced today that it will merge Cooking Light with fellow healthy-cooking title EatingWell under the EatingWell brand name. Both Coastal Living and Cooking Light will transition at the end of 2018 from subscription-based magazines to special interest publications available only on newsstands. Meredith also plans to outsource the work at its nearly 40-year-old hard-cover book division Oxmoor House.

Staff were informed of the major changes today and roughly 200 people were laid off at the publications as a result of the consolidations. The company is providing the employees who lost their jobs severance packages and outplacement benefits. Reached by Eater, a representative for the publisher said that there were no plans “at this time” to merge more Meredith titles. “We will continue to evaluate marketplace needs,” she added.

Cooking Light had been in circulation since 1987. The magazine gained a loyal legion of fans during its tenure thanks to its reliable stockpile of healthy, accessible recipes, published 11 times a year. The December 2018 issue will be Cooking Light’s final subscription-based issue. However, Cooking Light diehards will still be able to find their favorite recipe mag online and six times a year on newsstands beginning in 2019. Meredith’s food publication headquarters, which includes Food & Wine and Southern Living in its portfolio, will continue to operate in Birmingham, Alabama, with Hunter Lewis and Sid Evans serving as editors-in-chief.

The shutterings aren’t especially shocking. When rivals Time Inc. and Meredith merged last year, some acknowledged that with seemingly overlapping titles such as My Recipes and All Recipes, cuts and consolidations could be in the cards. Prior to the merger, Time Inc. made the major decision to relocate the New York headquarters of Food & Wine to Birmingham, closer to Cooking Light and Southern Living, and turn Lewis’s role into a dual one.

Meredith estimates that by combining EatingWell and Cooking Light’s subscribers, it will reach 1.775 million readers — about 80 percent of whom are women — making it the largest circulation in the epicurean magazine category. The new EatingWell will publish 10 times per year beginning with the January/February 2019 issue.

It’s been a notably tough few years for food and lifestyle magazines. Lucky Peach shuttered in March 2017. In January, Saveur was effectively gutted in a round of layoffs that included the departure of its editor-in-chief and deputy digital editor.

UPDATE, 9/14/18: Hunter Lewis, the editor of Cooking Light and Food & Wine, addresses the news in an Instagram post, writing, “We punched above our weight. We gave it our all, and most importantly, we did it together as a team.”

View this post on Instagram

Day 3 shit news: @cookinglight magazine is folding. The brand launched out of the pages of Southern Living in 1987 with this standalone issue and for 31 years has helped millions of home cooks nourish themselves and their families with fresh, inspiring recipes. I’ve had the honor to edit this magazine for its final four years and am incredibly grateful for the experience and to be a part of a wonderful team of Good Eggs. We served our audience well. We won awards. We put @michelleobama on the cover. We cooked with Birmingham city school students. We helped make a corporation a whole lotta money. We convinced a few people that chicken thighs have more flavor than chicken breasts. We punched above our weight. We gave it our all, and most importantly, we did it together as a team. Thank you to our dear readers. By nourishing you we nourished ourselves. Thank you to the team, led by the incredible executive editor @annietaypitt . Ann has been the true heart and soul of Cooking Light for 20 years and is one of the smartest and best editors — and recipe developers—I’ve ever worked with. Her fellow food editors, including @brierleyhorton, Tim Cebula, @jbrothersmiller and @dishingouthealth , alongside uber creative @rachellasserre , are all now looking for work. If you are in media, you should hire or commission them now before your competition scoops them up. They are seasoned pros. CL the brand isn’t dead. Some of its DNA will live on in our excellent sister title Eating Well, which will serve 80% more readers starting with the Jan/Feb issue. We’ll still publish newsstand glossies (aka special interest publications) 6 or so times a year. And CL dot com, led by the great @heyitsgogi , and the CL Diet will live on and continue to operate out of our delicious corner of the world in Birmingham. I’ll soon focus my efforts 100% on @foodandwine once we wrap December, CL’s final issue. If the next few years of work are as rewarding as the last few then consider me lucky.

A post shared by Hunter Lewis (@notesfromacook) on

UPDATE, 11/14/18: The final issue of Cooking Light is hitting subscriber mailboxes now, with the cover line “The Farewell Issue.”

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