When Jay Penske’s Penske Media Corp. bought show-biz trade paper Variety a couple of years ago, the media firm killed the daily print edition in favor of a high-end weekly paper. It revamped the website for breaking news.

Now, a similar formula could be applied to the bible of the fashion industry after the West L.A. media company’s announcement last week that it is buying trade paper Women’s Wear Daily.

Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, said he expects Penske to make changes at Women’s Wear Daily that mimic the firm’s approach at Variety. He said going weekly makes sense given how breaking news has moved online. He added that the trade paper’s mix of investigative stories, analysis and supplements already makes it a good fit for an upscale weekly format.

“All of these things will be incorporated into a very upscale weekly fashion magazine,” he said.

Penske Media announced last week that it is buying the Fairchild Fashion Media portfolio of trade publications from Conde Nast for a reported $100 million. The other titles include men’s fashion magazine M, Footwear News and Beauty Inc., in addition to an events business. The deal is expected to close next month.

The purchase will significantly add to Penske’s presence in New York, where Fairchild is based and where much of the publications’ readership is located. Penske’s other properties include Deadline Hollywood, Hollywood Life and sites covering Bollywood.

By investing in print, Penske is hoping that an upswing in digital income and a new approach can help offset the industry trend of dropping print advertising. Advertising pages in magazines surveyed by the Publishers Information Bureau were down 4 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year. There’s also a chance that Penske could cease publishing some of the titles in print to focus resources on the remaining brands.

The Fairchild titles in particular have lost significant value. Just 15 years ago, Walt Disney Co. sold Fairchild to Conde Nast, a division of Advance Publications, for $650 million. That deal also included consumer titles W and Jane, which were not included in last week’s deal

Jay Penske said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the properties he’s acquiring are strong brands that just need more investment.

Penske did not return a call from the Business Journal for this article.


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