Yankee by the Decade: New England's Magazine for 75 Years
As Yankee approached its 50th anniversary in 1985, the company pursued a strategy of aggressive growth. Page counts in issues reached the maximum that could be bound with staples. And it promoted Yankee subscriptions with the goal of pushing circulation over one million in expectation that a higher circulation would help attract national advertising.
Trowbridge wanted to expand on the success of Yankee and The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The company had begun publishing books in the 1960s and new magazines in the 1970s. Now it decided to acquire existing magazines in other markets. It bought Alaska magazine, Texas Business, and ASTA Travel News (a trade publication for travel agents). The purchase of Texas Business coincided with the “oil bust” in Texas, and the purchase of ASTA Travel News was ill advised. By the end of the decade both magazines were gone, and the company had to go back to basics to recover from the losses. In 1988 Trowbridge became chairman of the company and appointed Joseph Meagher, formerly the associate publisher, as its new president.
To pay down the debt built up in the previous decade, Yankee was managed for profitability for the first time in its history. However, the quality of Yankee‘s editorial continued to improve. In both 1995 and 1996 Yankee was named a finalist for a National Magazine Award in the “General Excellence” category. At the same time, Yankee launched its first Web site, NewEngland.com.
In the 1980s the economics of magazine publishing had started to shift toward favoring advertising sales over sales to the consumer. In the 1990s magazines kept lowering their subscription prices to increase their circulations, and that forced Yankee to lower its prices to remain competitive. Without a big base of national advertising to support a high circulation, Yankee was forced to cut back on subscription promotion, too.
Media conglomerates were buying up magazines, radio stations, newspapers, and television stations. It wasn’t clear that small independent publishers such as Yankee Publishing Inc. would be able to compete in a marketplace dominated by media giants. At the same time, it was already apparent that consumers were turning to the Internet for information and entertainment. Many questions arose in the face of these challenges. Instead of selling to a big media company, YPI’s board and shareholders decided to remain independent and family-owned. Jamie Trowbridge, Rob Trowbridge’s son and Sagendorph’s grandson, took over as president in November 1999.
In 2000, Jud Hale was appointed editor-in-chief and Jim Collins was named editor. From 2001 to 2006, Michael Carlton served as editor. From its inception, Yankee had always been a general-interest publication, but with “niche” media succeeding, Carlton took steps to focus the magazine more on service to the reader. In 2002, Yankee expanded its coverage of food, home, and travel and cut fiction, poetry, and history as feature subjects.
Meanwhile, Yankee continued to invest in its Web sites. In both 2005 and 2007 YankeeMagazine.com won a City and Regional Magazine Association Award for “Excellence Online.”
In response to continuing changes in the media industry, Jamie Trowbridge led a major restructuring of Yankee, appointing Mel Allen, who had joined Yankee in 1979, as the new editor. In 2007, Yankee emerged redesigned as a full-size magazine with a six-time frequency. Allen infused the new magazine with its old “voice,” some of which had been lost after the editorial changes of 2002. Many loyal readers lamented the size change initially, but the increased graphical impact of the magazine in its new format has contemporized the magazine for the 21st century.
On the occasion of its 75th anniversary, Yankee continues to evolve to meet the needs of today’s media consumer. But some things haven’t changed. Independence, integrity, ingenuity, perseverance, self-sufficiency, community – these are the values that have made both New England and Yankee Publishing successful. Yankee continues to adhere to those values today.
YPI acquired the assets of McLean Communications, which publishes New Hampshire Magazine, New Hampshire Business Review, Parenting New Hampshire, New Hampshire Home, and a variety of custom publications. McLean operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of YPI. With this acquisition, YPI now employs a staff of 82 people. The transaction closed on Friday, December 28, 2012.