The owners of Life magazine, which practically invented photojournalism, killed off their publication for the third and possibly final time yesterday (MAR26). Time Incorporated, which publishes Life, blamed the closure on "the decline in the newspaper business" and poor advertising predictions.
When Time took over Life in 1936, it turned it into the premier forum for photojournalism, page after page of pictures on good quality paper. At its height, it sold more than 13 million, and provided a showcase for some of the best photojournalists of the day, such as Margaret Bourke-White and Robert Capa.
After years of decline, Time ended its run as a weekly in 1972, after which it appeared intermittently until 1978. It ran as a monthly until 2000 when it was killed off. Time resurrected it as a weekly newspaper supplement from 2004, given away free in papers across the US.
It faced competition from other publishing companies that put out similar free supplements. Time, in a statement published yesterday (MAR26), said the title would live on in a new website, with photographs from its back catalogue, and through books.
Ann Moore, Time's chief executive, said: "The market has moved dramatically since October 2004 and it is no longer appropriate to continue publication" as a newspaper supplement. Time Incorporated reflected the hard times facing the magazine trade by cutting 300 jobs in January and selling 18 of its smaller magazines.
Its long-term strategy is to shift to the internet. In its heyday, Life was one of the most powerful voices in US and international journalism.
Although it was predominantly a picture magazine, it carried lengthy pieces by some of the best writers, particularly Ernest Hemingway. It was also the publication of choice for the serialisation of the memoirs of Sir Winston Churchill and President Harry Truman.
One of the most famous pictures published in Life, taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was of a nurse in a sailor's arms in New York in 1945 on the day victory over Japan was celebrated.In spite of offering a home to photojournalists, the text in the magazine, like other publications in the Time stable, was often deeply conservative and, in particular, anti-union.