Thursday, April 30, 2009

`Parade' Magazine's Hidden History

(The following article first appeared in the 11/18/92 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper Downtown)

Parade was founded in 1941 by a Chicago media mogul named Marshall Field III (whose grandfather had founded the Marshall Field department stores) and, within five years, two million copies were being distributed by 15 U.S. newspapers each Sunday. To make Parade more profitable, however, Field appointed a publisher named Arthur “Red” Motley to be its president in 1946 and Motley started to help newspapers secure local ads which tied-in to Parade’s national advertising. By 1956, seven million copies of Parade were being distributed by 52 U.S. newspapers. And its yearly advertising sales had increased from $1.8 million in 1946 to $14 million ten years later.

After Marshall Field III died in 1958, Parade was sold to New York media mogul John Hay Whitney. In October 1959 it became part of his Whitney Communications Corporation. By 1960, 65 U.S. newspapers were distributing over 9.5 million copies of Parade ever week and the magazine was selling around $25 million worth of advertising space annually. Its president was still Arthur “Red” Motley, who was also elected president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1960. In 1973, however, Motley and other members of the Whitney Communications corporate board decided to sell Parade to the Booth Newspapers media conglomerate.

Although its name was still not printed on the magazine’s masthead in the early 1990s, the Newhouse Dynasty has owned Parade since 1976, when Samuel Irving Newhouse I purchased Parade and eight daily newspapers in Michigan from Booth Newspapers for around $305 million. Parade’s weekly circulation in 1976 was 19 million.

By 1981, Parade’s weekly circulation exceeded 21 million, it was charging advertisers $170,000 per full page of advertising each week, and it was providing the Newhouse Dynasty’s media holding company, Advance Publications, with over $140 million a year in advertising sales. Of all U.S. magazines in 1981, Newhouse’s Parade magazine charged the most for a full-page ad. And of all Newhouse-owned magazines in 1981, Parade magazine was the biggest money-maker in terms of total advertising sales.

In the early 1990s, 344 U.S. newspapers distributed over 36 million copies of Parade to around 70 million readers each Sunday. And the magazine—whose editorial offices were then located at 750 Third Avenue in Midtown Manhattan—charged advertisers over $420,000 to publish a full-page color ad in an individual issue of Parade in the 1990s because of its enormous number of readers.

[Today, 470 U.S. newspapers distribute 33 million copies of Parade to around 73 million readers each Sunday].

(Downtown 11/18/92)

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