Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gourmet as Roarshack

Reactions to Gourmet's demise are so varied, it's almost become a kind of Roarshack test. An odd oped in the New York Times somehow transforms the magazine's closure into a indictment of "amateurs" without formal training, whatever their discipline. Especially strange was the writer's drafting of Julia Child, a largely self-taught cook who quickly recognized the limits of her formal training at the Cordon Bleu, to buttress his point. It's hard not to conclude this is yet another mainstream writer looking to take a crowbar to bloggers who have broken their monoply.

One of the best pieces so far is this one in Salon (an online publication no less!) that rightly refutes the meme that Gourmet was stodgy and stuck up. Yes, they did some quirky things, but it was more like the charming eccentric aunt who has money but doesn't care about it than the stuck up matron who buys pate just to impress the girls at the club.

Personally, I still don't understand how a magazine with 1 million subscribers goes under. It speaks to fundamental changes in the economics of publishing. For whatever reasons, not enough advertisers felt it worth their while to buy ads. Or Conde Nast wasn't satisfied with modest profits. It was go big or go home and they decided to go home.

Update: My friend Eleanor has an especially good post on her blog about Gourmet's death. I would add that she is the farthest thing from stuck up or pretentious.

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