Robert Kennedy Publishing, home of Oxygen, Clean Eating Magazine, Muscle Mag, and many others, is no more. From what I gather, bankruptcy has been filed. I nearly got whiplash from this news, which I discovered this afternoon on Masthead Online. After Robert Kennedy’s death in April of 2012, his widow, Tosca Reno, best-selling author of the Eat-Clean Diet series, took over as president and CEO. Sadly, the company was unable to recover from the loss, financially or creatively. Oxygen is one of my favourite fitness magazines, and it’s unbelievable that such a successful publication could and would fold. This totally sucks, not just for the many fans and readers, but for the publishing industry in Canada.
Originally, I didn’t have a clue until I saw an odd phrase in my WordPress Stats page: “Stacy Kennedy quits Oxygen.” Apparently, someone used this sentence to find my blog. My curiosity piqued, I googled Stacy Kennedy’s Linked In profile and noticed that she was listed as Oxygen‘s Editor-in-Chief until February of this year. Well, that’s strange, I thought. Why would anyone leave such a cool job? Then I flipped through the most recent issue and noticed that Rachel Crocker, fitness editor, had been promoted to Deputy Editor. Eventually, I stumbled across Masthead Online and discovered the truth.
A few years ago, I had interviewed for the position of fitness editor at Oxygen. Visiting their headquarters was a thrill, to say the very least. I had lamented how disappointed I was when I wasn’t hired, but life goes on. However, I did receive an odd, anonymous comment on that post from someone who said I should be glad I’d never been hired, and that it was a problematic working environment. I was confused by the comment and didn’t know what to make of it at the time, but now it seems like an ominous foreshadowing.
The most shocking news of all: Tosca Reno’s statement on her blog, and the conversation it generated. Many readers and subscribers were upset about the closure, but they understood, aware that the publishing industry was changing rapidly and drastically; they wished Reno well and good luck. However, a discussion between former staff members quickly drew a crowd. People are really angry. Tosca’s Facebook page is positively ablaze with comments. I certainly don’t have firsthand experience, so I can’t offer an opinion on the unfolding drama, but wow.
I’ve been a fan of Tosca Reno for several years; I use her recipes and love her cookbooks. I also enjoyed her monthly columns in Oxygen, and I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to contribute to the publication. This is so disappointing! This company produced at least six magazines and many books, so not only does this affect countless staff, but this means that a giant portion of the Canadian publishing industry has imploded. I really hope Oxygen finds a new home, which is still a possibility, but predictions have not been optimistic. I am very curious to see how this will all unfold, and I will continue to update this post as information becomes available.
Wishing luck and success to the entire RKP gang!
Click here to hear Muscular Development interview with Bill Geiger, former Editorial Director, about the financial issues that plagued the company since November of 2012.
The Ottawa Citizen has written a more thorough article on the closure, which includes a few words from former Deputy Editor, Rachel Crocker.
More news on the Demise of Robert Kennedy Publishing (July 19, 2013)
What’s for sale at Robert Kennedy Publishing (July 25, 2013)
Reflections of a blogger and Oxygen subscriber (August 9, 2013)
UPDATE SEPT 2013: OXYGEN RISES FROM THE ASHES, PURCHASED BY AMERICAN COMPANY