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The Saturday Review in the 1990s held a position in the American (and global) magazine landscape roughly equivalent to that occupied by the New Yorker today. It differs only in offering a blend of long-form serious articles along with high-gloss sections to do with high-culture, more than the New Yorker's popular culture. Serious journalism was, however, the feature which brought in subscribers from around the world. In global sales it was third to Readers Digest and National Geographic.
It was also noted for having a superior standard of communal ethics and it became seen as the 'bible of good taste'. And like the Readers Digest, the Saturday Review under Norman Cousins refused to carry cigarette advertising. Even worse, from the viewpoint of the cigarette industry, the magazine's highly respected editor Norman Cousins actively campaigned against smoking -- mainly on health grounds. However the ownership changed a couple of times, and new publishers and editors accepted, then rejected, cigarette advertising.
This threatened their ability to recruit smoker via press advertising. It came at a time when the industry faced the potential loss of radio and television advertising. Worldwide, the legislators were moving to block television advertising of cigarettes, and this critically meant the loss of the essential (to the companies) image advertising: the Marlboro cowboy riding the range (who had a macho appeal to young men); Joe Camel (who developed a following among early teenagers); images of sophisticated life in the snowfield (attractive to young women) which were used by Kool and Alpine. Benson & Hedges with its gold pack, was promoted to people who aspire to be involved in the high-class Art-culture market -- the Saturday Review market.
Then in April 1984 the rival Saturday Evening Post stopped accepting tobacco advertising (the Post's publisher was then Cory SerVaas, MD). Philip Morris became increasingly furious with interference in its right to advertise (they called it "Commercial Free Speech"), and the suggestion was made at one conference that the industry must move into the media business itself through buying magazines.
Omni magazine was the first seriously suggested and researched; then they came to focus on the glossy pages of the "Saturday Review."
Calculated Conjecture from evidence available
To cut a long story short (from various interviews, emails etc.) the tobacco industry used its influence to reduce advertising support -- not just in cigarettes, but with other associated industries. Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, Lorillard, etc. were by now very wealthy conglomerates with food subsidiaries, real-estate holdings, pharmacueticals, cosmetics, etc. etc. Eventually the magazine ceased publishing for about nine months.
After a couple of quick sales, eventually it came to be owned by a moderately wealthy Californian couple, Jeffrey and Deborah Gluck. They had no editorial or magazine experience, and despite reintroducing cigarette advertising, the contents of the magazine suffered and began to go into an obvious terminal decline. The Glucks were willing to sell, but they were trying to buy a medium-sized city newspaper which they thought would give them some political clout.
Shook Hardy & Bacon, the Kansas City law firm which did many of the tobacco industries more underhand deals, heard that the magazine was about to go under again, and Philip Morris decided to step in and take it over. But they wanted to maintain a veil of secrecy over their control. Shook Hardy & Bacon eventually worked out an effective triangular agreement,
- The Newhouse family had run the St Louis Despatch for a few generations, but its profits were limited by a cut-rate highly-conservative competitor in the St Louis Globe-Democrat,
- Eventually the St Louis Globe-Democrat got into financial problems and came onto the market, The Newhouse family bought it (with Pulitzer input), but then ran into problems with the monopolies law. They were allowed to keep the paper (no one else wanted it) -- and they could print the two papers on the same presses -- thus increasing the overall efficiency. But they were not allowed to consolidate the editorial controls and they must maintain separate journalistic and advertising staff. Real competition must be maintained.
- This marginally improved the financial load on the family, but they really wanted the second paper to collapse - which would shift the total advertising revenue to their primary St Louis Despatch and a halve the salary of journalists and ad salesmen. Prices could then rise along with subscription costs because St Louis readers and advertisers would have no option.
- The sale was engineered by Shook Hardy & Bacon, the tobacco lawyers of Kansas City and the magazine sale was reported as being "a rescue" in the hands of a group "of "Kansas City investors." One named investor was the owner of the Hereford House steak-restaurant frequented by Shook Hardy's lawyers.
- Jeff Gluck then converted the Globe Democrat from an evening to a morning newspaper and went further into debt by starting the St Louis Evening News. The March-April issue of the Saturday Review was cancelled. 
The triangular deal that Shook Hardy devised was effective in convincing the Glucks to swap the magazine for the St Louis Globe-Democrat, which could be acquired cheap since the Newhouse family's expectation was that general editorial incompetence would soon result in its demise. This was done in October-November 1983 -- and it was able to satisfy the Newhouse family's requirements without the monopolies authorities being able to take action.  Philip Morris was then (slightly later) able to acquire the Saturday Review with their ownership hidden by Shook Hardy and some hidden contracts via a group known as the "Saturday Review Limited Partners.
A new (moderately experienced) editorial and publishing consortium (headed by lobbyist Paul G. Dietrich) could then be brought in and be promoted as the new owners. It worked like clockwork and everyone got what they wanted; and after the Globe-Democat collapsed the Glucks moved to Palo Alto to run a local newspaper.
Paul G Dietrich and Frank Gannon
This circle of exchange was cleverly engineered by Shook Hardy & Bacon, and Philip Morris already had an editorial group used by both themselves and the Tobacco Institute based on Paul G. Dietrich a well-established tobacco and political lobbyist with the right Republican connections -- he also ran the Funds for a Conservative Majority. Dietrich's main operation at this time was the National Center for Legislative Research (NCLR) which published a number of small newsletters on Republican politics and foreign policy. Dietrich's team was headed by the so-called editor, Frank Gannon -- the well-known boyfriend of TV personality-newswoman Dianne Sawyer. He was also the aide and biographer of Richard Nixon.
- [Note: Don't confuse this Gannon with the Philip Morris tobacco scientist Frank Gannon].
The magazine ran with little success for another three years under this arrangement while they tried to design a formula which worked with smokers (they filled the magazine with cigarette advertising). It probably needed considerable subsidies, despite having strong advertising support from all the tobacco companies. Dietrich tried on a couple of occasions to find other investors to keep it going -- and they converted it from a subscription-arts magazine, to a newsstand popular celebrity shocker with Rambo and playgirls on the cover -- and ended up with only a quarterly that didn't sell on the news-stands. Eventually they must have reached the limit of Philip Morris's financial generosity and the Tobacco Institute sent Dietrich to Kansas City to pull the plug. The magazine was then transferred over to the Penthouse porn stable.
The editorial team, however, was on a long-term contract, so they couldn't just be fired. They were transferred to Philip Morris's New York office, and given the task of revamping and reformatting the free giveaway the Philip Morris Magazine. This was circulation through office waiting and lunch rooms, and free-mailed to anyone who signed up to one of the industry's Smoker's Rights operations -- usually along with complementary packets of fags.
Documents & Timelines
1951 The Saturday Review magazine cost 25¢ at news stands
1956 Everette Lee DeGolyer (grandfather of Valerie McGhee - later a managing editor) turned over his ownership of the Saturday Review to editor Norman Cousins, who kept 51% and distributed the rest to members of the magazine staff.
1961 Cousins and the staff owners sold the magazine to McCall Corporation - for stock worth about $3 million. Cousins was given a 10 year contract and complete editorial freedom. He had become a liberal crusader, a co-chairman of SANE, the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy in 1957 - promoting A-Bomb test ban treaty, etc. He was a health fanatic who despised smoking.
1969 July Ad in New York Magazine for Saturday Review "The Thought-Weekly" at 380 Madison Ave, New York, 34 issues for $2.97 (normal price for a subscription was $5.88) The magazine claims to have 1.7 million readers and that circulation had more than doubled since 1960. 
1971 Nov 22 Time magazine reports on "Revamping the Review"
As editor and onetime owner of the Saturday Review (circ. 662,000), Norman Cousins was for 31 years the undisputed boss of his profitable, determinedly middle-brow magazine. Cousins, 56, agonized last summer (TIME, July 19) when the Review was sold by Norton Simon, Inc., to a pair of young publishing entrepreneurs, Nicolas Charney and John Veronis, who had made a success of Psychology Today. Cousins eventually decided that he could get along with the new owners; last week, though, they revealed plans to revamp the Review and use it as a springboard to something Cousins may have trouble recognizing, let alone running.
| Starting next year, the Saturday Review will become a five-sided magazine enterprise—a weekly and four separate monthlies. The weekly's current special sections will be expanded in size and realigned topically to cover education, the arts, science and "the society," a catch-all description of politics, business and what Charney calls "the system." The new sections will run on a rotating basis in the weekly along with the magazine's usual editorial mix. Each special section will also serve as core for one of the specialized monthlies. |
New Name. The weekly will be sold by subscription only, and its title will change from week to week according to the special section it carries—Saturday Review of Science, for example, or Saturday Review of Education. The monthlies will be sold both by subscription and on newsstands. The editorial budget for the five Reviews will be beefed up by $4,000,000, and some of the magazine's operations will be moved from Manhattan to San Francisco.
[None of this seems to have happened.]
1972 Jun 19 New York Magazine has an article about Norman Cousins and the take-over of the company by a group from Psychology Today for $5.5 million. Cousins had been seriously affected by the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 -- and had become fiercely opposed to President Johnson and the on-going war in Vietnam. He had become a crusader.
1973 July 2 New Yorker magazine has an article on its rival:
Norman Cousins had made a speech that the Society of Magazine writers billed as referring to the Saturday Review's recent bankruptcy as a "$30 million Publishing Boo-Boo" Cousins was now the publisher of World Magazine.
Search in 
1974 Aug 9 Watergate resignation. Frank Gannon and his girlfriend Diane Sawyer the TV personality, are living in basement flat of "well-known Georgetown hostess", Kay Halle. Nixon's greatest strengths were his political resilience and his foreign policy prescience. Gannon who served in the White House as a special assistant to the president flew with Nixon to California aboard Air Force One following his resignation in 1974. Gannon spent the next four years organizing the researching and writing of the former president's memoirs RN: 
1976 July 19 New York Magazine has an advertisement for Saturday Review. Norman Cousins was editor. Subscription department was in Des Moines, Iowa Trial rate for 13 biweekly issues cost $7. 
1978 June: At a Philip Morris strategy conference, the suggestion had been made that the industry should buy newspapers, news agencies, and magazines like the Saturday Review (specifically mentioned) in order to improved their media coverage. The call was renewed at later industry strategy conferences.
1978 Oct 10 Advertising proposal letter to American Brands: The Saturday Review now has as its own special "Tobacco Advertising Executive", Jay Stelzer, and he is actively canvassing the cigarette companies. The magazine is now offering special rates for double page color spreads. They want $9400 for the back page. http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/mcu65f00/pdf
1978 Nov 6 Saturday Review publishing a cartoon "Thank you for not smoking" ridiculing the ban on restaurant smoking. . http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/oup88d00/pdf
1982 The Saturday Review again became insolvent in 1982 and was sold to Missouri entrepreneur Jeffrey Gluck. It was later sold to a group of investors in 1984. Publication ended in 1986 and Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione acquired the rights to the magazine in 1987. He used the title briefly for an online publication on AOL in the early 1990s.
1982 Philip Morris are using the Saturday Review for Parliament brand cigarettes. Labled "Special Interest" magazine (PM also promoted culture and arts) http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/ess05d00/pdf
1982 Apr Philip Morris is placing double-page spread institutional advertising in Saturday Review http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/cfh49a00
1982 Aug 16 Dan Rather on CBS Evening News "Saturday Review" reported suspending publication today. " The Financial World publisher Robert Weingarten pulled the plug on his investment in the magazine. It went bankrupt.
1982 Sept 12 The Saturday Review has suspended publication! It had financial troubles in 1970 or 71; it tried a new format which did not work, and the new format lost them their editor, Norman Cousins, 
1983 Feb 7 Newspaper Report: "Richard Nixon starts work this week as an anchorman and interviewer for a series of television programs dealing with world affairs, the New York Times reported today. The newspaper said Nicholas Ruwe, a Nixon spokesman, has confirmed that the former President will participate in the program financed by a London group, the Frank Gannon Production Co. Nixon, 70, will not be paid for his participation, but he will be compensated for expenses, the Times said. 
1983 Dec 23 Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News reported that the "Saturday Review" publisher, Jeffrey Gluck, was purchasing "Saint Louis Globe-Democrat" newspaper
The Washington Post noted that the purchase price was "about $500,000, with a mere $50,000 cash down payment ..." 
1983 Dec 24 New York Times "A 30-year-old magazine publisher and his wife announced today that they had signed a contract to buy The St. Louis Globe- Democrat. The 131-year-old morning newspaper was to have ceased publication Dec. 31 because of financial losses. Jeffrey M. Gluck and his wife, Debra, who bought The Saturday Review ... etc.
- [Note the Globe-Democrat had a higher circulation figure than the rival Post-Dispatch]
The Glucks have appealed to Saturday Review subscribers to donate money to cover what they said were short-term losses and to provide the magazine with a cushion for the future.
Mr. Gluck grew up in suburban Chicago and began his career in journalism as a business manager for The Maneater, a student newspaper at the University of Missouri. He left in 1974 to start his own paper, The Campus Digest, which he still publishes. He and his wife later purchased Missouri Life, a bimonthly magazine characterized by full-color photographs and nice stories, as Mr. Gluck put it, which has a circulation of about 30,000. They also publish a magazine called Family Journal.
Also "He also steadfastly refuses to disclose his financial backers, although he does acknowledge loans from an unnamed downtown St. Louis bank." 
1983-4 (Joint operating agreement - made in St Louis during 1983) Joseph Pulitzer and Samuel I Newhouser added an amendment to their previous joint operating agreement (JOA) Pulitzer would give the Newhouses (Newhouse Publishing) half the profits that would surely accrue were the Post-Dispatch the only paper in town, in exchange for the Newhouses making that possibly by closing the Globe-Democrat. ... an offer he couldn't refuse. In Thanksgiving 1983, the publisher Duncan Bauman was told it would close on February 1 1984.
The Newhouses had secured Justice Department permission to close - (Some Newhouse newspapers had been making huge losses). Then suddenly they reversed their decision - probaby because of the furore over the closure of the Cleveland Press. The Justices department lawyers ordered the Newhouses to sell the paper.
"nobody in the newspaper industry thought anybody in their right mind would buy it, recalls one Globe-Democrat editorial staffer "but along came this guy named Jeffrey Gluck. But he didn't have 'a nickle's worth of experience at runing a daily newspaper" says another. He ended up paying nothing of the paper, but left unpaid bills and broken promises all over town. He was so short of funds that he had the building's air conditioning turned off.
1984 Jan PM Marketing Coordination Newsletter said:
Jeffrey Gluck, publisher of Saturday Review, was successful in his bid to acquire The St. Louis Globe- Democrat when the Newspaper Guild approved an agreement containing dismissal, pay guarantees. The paper will continue as a morning daily.
1984 Feb This was the last issue of the Saturday Review before the (9 month later) November issue put out by Gannon.
1984 April PM Marketing Coordination newsletter said
Jeffrey Gluck who earlier this year bought the St. Louis Globe Democrat and converted it from an evening to a morning paper has started the St. Louis Evening News. The five days a week paper has an initial circulation of 50,000 vs. the morning Democrat's 230,000.
| The March-April issue of Saturday Review has been cancelled, and the publication is for sale. Jeffrey Gluck, who bought the publication in 1982 and converted it from a monthly to a bimonthly, cites preoccupation with his two St. Louis newspapers as the reason for the sale. 
1986 Apr 11 A report from the Tobacco Institute's PR head, Bill Klopfer to its President Sam Chilcote has a one-line reference to the demise of the Saturday Review:
- Dietrich: Visit to KC scheduled 4/18
[Translation: Paul Dietrich was being sent to Shook Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City on April 18th to work out the details on the abandonment of the Saturday Review magazine project.] 
- Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power & Glory of America's Richest Media Empire ... By Thomas Maier
- St Louis Globe-Democrat Folds