Aspen Sojourner ceases publication, hopes for winter return

Aspen Sojourner magazine is taking a vacation that its publishing group hopes does not become permanent.

The seasonal magazine’s publisher said last month it’s stopping the presses at its ski town magazines including Aspen Sojourner, which debuted in 1995 and has styled itself as a sophisticated yet local-centric publication.

Portland, Oregon-based SagaCity Media bought Sojourner in 2010. Along with ceasing publication of the mountain-town magazines for an indefinite period of time, SagaCity also furloughed 25 of its 130 employees, CEO Nicole Vogel said in an Aug. 1 telephone interview. Among the furloughed were Nancy Maye, publisher of Aspen publication, one Vogel praised for its performance. Two other employees, including its editor, Cindy Hirschfeld, were laid off.

“We’ve always been so proud of that magazine,” Vogel said, noting SagaCity did not buy Sojourner “for vanity purposes or for access, necessarily, and it’s a town you can’t help falling in love with.”

The pandemic’s toll on the ski resort publications, however, has been too much to continue production, she said.

“Real estate has been good, but everything else has been decimated,” Vogel said of industries advertising with Sojourner.

“But even in real estate, people are being cautious,” she said, noting brokers and firms are trimming expenses by running smaller-sized advertisements.

Sojourner had a circulation of 30,000, Vogel said. Magazines were mailed to homeowners and disbursed throughout restaurants and hotels.

SagaCity also has stopped publishing magazines it owns in Park City, Utah; and Summit County and Vail in Colorado.

“We’re waiting to see if we can come back for the winter,” Vogel said, adding that compromising the product is not in the cards.

“Our mission and vision and values don’t allow us to cut corners,” she said. “I think our content speaks for itself. We’ve always been committed to the highest quality content.”

Sojourner’s roster of editorial talent over the years has included writer Jaw Cowan, Michael Miracle (now with Aspen Skiing Co.), and most recently Hirschfeld.

Mayer declined comment.

With a drop in advertising and the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming ski season, SagaCity viewed publishing this winter as too much of a risk.

“We really need to have a better indication of what’s happening in the ski resorts,” Vogel said, “and if there’s no skiing, it’s a very different place.”

SagaCity’s other magazine markets include Sarasota, Florida; Portland, Oregon; Houston; and Seattle.

One of the magazine publishing industry’s biggest closures so far also occurred two weeks ago when Bauer Media said it was shutting down Australian publications of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, InStyle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, NW and OK! Bauer cited the pandemic’s impact on the economy as the reason.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story originally reported Bauer Media closed its publications worldwide. That has been corrected, as well as a reporting error about the nature of employee departures at Aspen Sojourner.