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Dolly gets the axe after nearly 50 years in print

Thursday, 01 December 2016
By Jake Nelson

Bauer Media will cease printing iconic teen magazine Dolly, shifting it to a digital-only format following its December 5 edition.

The move comes seven months after Bauer relaunched Dolly as a mobile-first publication with a bi-monthly print edition. In a statement, Bauer CEO Nick Chan said continuing to print the magazine was no longer feasible. “Dolly readers predominantly engage with the brand on digital and social platforms and they do so with greater frequency than is possible with a bi-monthly magazine – this means it’s no longer feasible to continue publishing the magazine on a regular basis.

Dolly has played a part in the lives of many Australians over the years, which is why we’re delighted its outstanding content continues but now, exclusively, on the channels today’s teens prefer to interact with most,” Chan said.

Dolly has been in print since 1970, but circulation fell off a cliff in recent years, with January to June circulation in 2016 just 30,010 – a third of what it was only four years ago. Rival teen mag Girlfriend, owned by Pacific Magazines, remains in print for now, but has shifted to a “seasonal” distribution.

Marina Go, ex-publisher, Dolly.

Former editor and publisher Marina Go said the decision to print Dolly bi-monthly spelled the end for the magazine, with the website cannibalising most of its audience. “The success of the Dolly website almost guaranteed the end of the print version. Dolly readers check their phones 130 times a day. How could a magazine, no matter how brilliantly executed, as it was to the end, compete with that?” Go wrote in a news.com.au op-ed.

Go was given the job of publishing the online and print versions of Dolly shortly before it was moved to the bi-monthly schedule. “I groaned quietly. The whole Dolly team did. Less frequently, for teenagers? Editor Josie Rosenberg-Clarke and her tiny team of four took a deep breath, got back on that horse and created a brilliant version of the magazine that succeeded in lifting the magazine’s average circulation for the first time in about five years.

“But it wasn’t enough. It was never going to be enough. The economics just didn’t stack up. Not enough print revenue anymore for the teenage market. In its final year the brand booked more advertising revenue online. And you don’t need to be a media executive to understand that the costs of creating the digital product would be lower,” she said.

Dolly is Bauer’s third major print casualty this year, after the publisher shuttered Cleo in January and motorsport magazine Auto Action in May.

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