A blog post from Tosca Reno, owner of Robert Kennedy Publishing, alerted me that CANUSA Products, Inc. (formerly known as Canusa Publishing Group), their parent company, has just shut down after 40 years in operation. Their two most popular properties, Clean Eating and Oxygen magazines, are officially in limbo—Reno seems to imply she’s trying to find them another home, but that’s a wish, not a plan right now.
Officially, the reasons for the shutdown make perfect sense to me: She attributes the difficulties to the “sharp decline” of traditional publishing, and to uses’ adoption of tablet and electronic devices, as well as to the passing of founder Robert Kennedy last year.
The comments on her blog paint a slightly different picture, however—of Reno, a bodybuilder and fitness model, taking over for her late husband and putting herself on the magazine covers a few too many times; employing her children and family members; being overseas on an expensive vacation while employees were notified of the closing by anonymous men in suits; and of magazines that continued taking customers’ subscription money as late as the day before the announcement.
So, what’s the real story? Is it a sad (but predictable) tale of a storied media property that failed to adapt to a tablet-based readership and was dealt the final blow by the death of its beloved founder? Or is it the story of an ego-fueled new director who prioritized her own interests and failed to steer the ship into a safe harbor? It’s hard to say.
I do remember meeting Bob Kennedy at a fitness conference a few years ago, and I remember him as a friendly, kindly-seeming man who was passionate about the brand he built. Whatever the reasons for the loss of it, I think he would have been devastated to see it come to pass.