It is a story heard more often than not: a feisty, independent magazine purchased by a larger publishing entity, left to its own devices for some time then, slowly or abruptly, being relocated, seeing its budget slashed, losing longtime staff and somehow losing its soul. The example of ReadyMade comes to mind, shuttered by Meredith Corporation after purchasing it from its founders.
And, now, the decision by Ogden Publications to move the highly respected Utne Reader from its Minneapolis, Minnesota base to Ogden's Kansas headquarters; the seven Utne staffers, including editor in chief David Schimke, have elected not to move with it, according to a story in Folio:
The magazine's production and editorial will now be done by other Ogden employees who are producing titles such as Mother Earth News, Grit and Motorcycle Classics.
Schimke says Ogden Publications may be planning to cut the literary digest’s budget in half, down from $500,000 to $250,000. He tells Folio:, "I don't think it was an editorial quality decision, it was about the affordability. Having a satellite office in this day and age is hard."
Ogden acquired Utne Reader in 2006. Utne was very well-known both for its added exposure of the best writing from indy magazines but also for its annual independent press awards, which (unlike many other U.S.-based awards programs) didn't ignore Canadian titles such as Geez or This Magazine. Whether the awards will continue under the magazine's straitened circumstances (and without the staff which made the selections) seems somehow doubtful.