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NOT IN THE PLANS: The job cuts feared at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. came in a rather unexpected place: On Monday, after eliminating a handful of jobs Friday, the company said it was discontinuing publication of Blueprint, the bimonthly young women's lifestyle magazine launched in April 2006. It will cease being a stand-alone title after the January/February issue, but sources said Blueprint may live on as an sponsored onsert or insert to Martha Stewart Weddings, depending on advertiser interest. Bluelines, its blog, will live on. While senior staff were retained — editor in chief Sarah Humphreys, design director Deb Bishop and publisher Amy Wilkins — and chances were considered good for longtime MSLO employees, sources said most of the more junior staffers were let go and told to check in over the next few weeks for any openings at the company. While an MSLO spokeswoman could not give a total for the number of people expected to lose their jobs, the Blueprint masthead lists 45 people on the editorial, production and design sides of the magazine. On Monday afternoon, after Martha herself had visited the staff and expressed her regrets, Humphreys took them to the Half King for lunch to drown their sorrows.
The move was somewhat of a surprise since Blueprint planned to raise its rate base early next year, to 450,000, and it recently made four editorial hires. (One, Jen Renzi, formerly a senior editor at House & Garden, hadn't even started yet.) But there were some warning signals. In a conference call in August, MSLO chief executive Susan Lyne said the company would reallocate $10 million previously earmarked for Blueprint into Internet efforts and the bottom line. And it was unclear how much advertising traction the magazine had. Recent issues were dominated by automotive and mass beauty ads. This year saw tough times for both magazines aimed at younger women, like the now-departed Jane, and shelter titles, with advertisers spooked by the housing market's woes and the closing of House & Garden.
In fact, In Style Home, which published two issues this year, ceased publication with its October issue, though it managed to do so without attracting much outside notice. "Although our Home newsstand numbers were excellent among the shelter set, we were not meeting all of our business objectives," said an In Style spokeswoman. No staff members were affected, she said. (It would appear the main signs of life in the sector are the tepidly received Men's Health Living, and Vogue Living.)