(The following article first appeared in the 11/18/92 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper Downtown)
Although Vogue, Glamour, Self and Allure pose as magazines which present editorially a competing “women’s point of view” to the primarily male-oriented GQ/Gentleman’s Quarterly magazine, the same Newhouse Dynasty media conglomerate which owns Vogue, Glamour, Self and Allure has also owned GQ since 1979. And GQ’s editorial director in the early 1990s, Alexander Liberman, was the same man who was the editorial director of Vogue, Glamour, Self and Allure. After the previously competing Gentleman’s Quarterly/GQ was purchased by Newhouse, its circulation increased from 180,000 to around 700,000 each month in the early 1990s.
The Newhouse Dynasty’s media conglomerate also owns and markets Vanity Fair and the New Yorker Magazine. Vanity Fair and the New Yorker Magazine were each read by over 600,000 people in the early 1990s.
Vanity Fair was re-launched in 1983—using the same name of Conde’ Nast’s defunct pre-World War II publication—by Newhouse. The British wife of an editor named Harold Evans—former British magazine Tatler editor Tina Brown—was soon named to be Vanity Fair’s editor by Newhouse. At the time it was started, according to The Last Days Of The New Yorker by Gig Mahon, “Vanity Fair made it blatantly clear that it wanted New Yorker readers and advertisers.”
The New Yorker was among the top U.S. magazines in terms of the number of pages sold to retail advertisers in the early 1980s. With a circulation of around 500,000 in the early 1980s, it was taking in about $70 million from its ad sales, newsstand sales and subscriptions.
Coincidentally, after Newhouse decided that The New Yorker was the magazine that competed with Vanity Fair, Newhouse spent $200 million in 1985 to buy The New Yorker—and thus bring the previously competing New Yorker into the Newhouse stable of magazines. In November 1984, Samuel Newhouse I’s son, S.I. “Si” Newhouse Jr., had first promised “that he would limit his investment in The New Yorker to 25 percent of the stock,” according to The Last Days Of The New Yorker. But by 1985, Newhouse decided it wanted complete control of The New Yorker magazine operation.
After Newhouse fired the editor of The New Yorker in January 1987, the magazine’s staff drafted a letter in which it protested that “a new editor has been imposed on us.” In the early 1990s, ironically, Newhouse’s newest editor at The New Yorker was Tina Brown—the former editor of the previously competing Vanity Fair magazine.
Although Details sometimes liked to pose for its 250,000 readers in the early 1990s as an alternative Downtown magazine, it, too, was owned by Parade magazine’s parent company. Newhouse purchased Details for around $3 million in the late 1980s and, coincidentally, Details wasn’t too quick to print too many details about either Parade magazine or Newhouse in the early 1990s. A young member of the Newhouse Dynasty—Jonathan Newhouse—was, coincidentally, named to be the publisher at Details for awhile in the late 1980s.
Asked by Downtown in a Fall 1992 telephone interview if Details magazine had been affected much by the Newhouse family’s purchase of it, then-Details editor James Truman replied (in a heavy British accent): “It’s a nonsensical question. It’s a completely different magazine. Absolutely different.”