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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   November 1998  issue

Tropic Blues   

The Miami Herald shuts down its Sunday magazine.


By Lori Robertson
Lori Robertson (robertson.lori@gmail.com), a former AJR managing editor, is a senior contributing writer for the magazine.      


Despite its popularity among readers, the Miami Herald 's Sunday magazine, Tropic , ceases publication as part of the paper's efforts to cut costs. Tropic Editor Bill Rose says more than 70 percent of the Herald's Sunday subscribers regularly read the magazine, according to the paper's surveys. ``You would think advertisers would want to be in that kind of a vehicle," he says. ``Apparently, I was wrong." Herald Executive Editor Doug Clifton says shutting down Tropic will save the paper about $2 million annually. It's been no secret that Tropic was on shaky financial ground. Rose, who became editor in 1990, says the closing has been rumored for so long ``we long ago stopped expecting it to happen."
Established in 1967, Tropic boasts three Pulitzer Prizes and was the venue where Dave Barry 's humorous columns debuted and flourished. Tropic's executive editor, Tom Shroder , moves north to become the Washington Post 's Style section editor. The rest of the five-member staff will be reassigned to other departments. Rose has been involved in talks concerning key editing positions he calls ``all good ones." He understands the monetary pressures, but says ``you can't help but be hurt, you can't help but be sad." There are currently 29 publications, counting Tropic, listed in the directory of Sunmag, the Sunday magazine editors association. But not all of those are traditional Sunday magazines, says Mark Gauert , editor of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel 's Sunshine Magazine and president of Sunmag.
While a decline in Sunday magazines is evident, many have been refurbished or resurrected, says Lary Bloom , editor of the Hartford Courant 's Northeast and a former editor of Tropic. He calls the Herald's magazine ``an institution.... Great writers have written for Tropic." The Herald will bulk up its sports, business and Sunday arts sections in the post-Tropic era, adding 20 pages a week.