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Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Day get new looks in biggest overhauls in years

Updated:
NEW YORK (AP) _ It's makeover time for two grande dames in the world of women's magazines, but don't expect many bare midriffs or tell-all bedroom exposes.

Ladies' Home Journal and Woman's Day are unveiling new designs in their March issues as part of their biggest overhauls in years. The goal: a fresher look that will attract youthful readers and new advertisers, while retaining homemaking and family advice that subscribers have counted on for decades.

``These are magazines that have been around for decades ... and that's a plus and a minus,'' said Steven Cohn, editor of Media Industry Newsletter. ``The plus is there's lots of familiarity. The minus is they are not considered hip. What these magazines and their publishers are trying to do is make the magazines more hip without alienating their existing readers.''

Indeed, both titles are among the nation's oldest _ and biggest _ magazines. Ladies' Home Journal, owned by Meredith Corp., debuted in 1883. Woman's Day, published by Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., dates to 1937.

They are part of what's known as the ``Seven Sisters, `` a group of established women's magazines that also includes Redbook, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping. The category is considered financially sound, despite the recent demise of McCall's/ Rosie magazine, the seventh sister.

Ladies' Home Journal and Woman's Day boast monthly circulations of more than 4.1 million each, according to the most recent data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

But advertisers consider more than circulation. Another factor is readership age, and the median age of readers at Ladies' Home Journal and Woman's Day is about 48.

``There's this magical 18-34 age group that everyone loves in the ad world, and to get advertising you need to have younger readers,'' said Dan Capell, editor of Capell's Circulation Report, a newsletter tracking magazine circulation.

Advertisers also like magazines with strong newsstand sales, because readers who buy on impulse are more likely to react to advertisements and promotions. Newsstand readers also tend to be younger. Less than 10 percent of Ladies' Home Journal's and about a third of Woman's Day sales occur at the newsstand.

Woman's Day is debuting new how-to columns, with more photos and fancier paper.

``Whether you are married or not, you have to get food on the table, you have health concerns, and that's what our articles are about,'' said Jane Chesnutt, editor-in-chief of Woman's Day.

At Ladies' Home Journal, new Editor in Chief Diane Salvatore takes a similar tack.

``The visuals are going to pull readers in and then the content is going to seal the deal,'' Salvatore said.

Both magazines have been careful not to stray too far from their roots. There are no racy articles on dating married men. Fashion spreads are tasteful, with emphasis on the practical.

Attracting younger readers won't be easy.

``I've looked at them when I go visit my grandmother,'' said Kristin Fearnley, 28, of Middletown, Conn. ``They seem aimed at homemakers who are staying home with children. And that's not me.''
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