So there I am browsing the magazine racks in a Sandton Exclusives, when I notice a Classic Wine perching there. Oh good, says I. But it’s so long since the February/March edition came out that I don’t even recognise the nearly six-month-old cover. But that’s what it proved to be. And, like wow (as they say) – we’re nearly in August. I recall hearing earlier that one edition was going to be missed for technical reasons (suggestions of financial problems were pooh-poohed). Just one edition … I’d not only forgotten the cover, I’d forgotten the mag existed.
It didn’t take long, or many questions to friends with connections (or at least with strong opinions), to get some sort of answer to my bewilderment.
Telkom, it seems – or is it Yellow Pages? – has faltered in its sponsorship (who even knew that the magazine was “sponsored”? Is that a healthy basis for a magazine?). No money, no mag – though I gather that the editor is still getting paid, so presumably someone in control still thinks that there’ll be another issue one of these days. But, it occurs to me, is curling up like this in close imitation of death the best way to attract sponsorship – let alone a readership?
A few mag-oriented tastings have happened recently – and I’d guess a lot of journalists have written and delivered articles for which they can’t be at all certain of payment – and perhaps that’s another sign of hope.
Incidentally, I did hear that one of our pushier journalists somehow managed, for his private purposes and ambitions, to get hold of advance results of one of these tastings (surely a rather iffy procedure for a magazine, even one in abeyance?). The fact that he’s also vaguely rumoured to be interested in buying the magazine for himself (what can it be worth, after all? – I doubt if there’s much good will, let alone a significant subscription list) just makes it all murkier.
This is altogether sad. Classic Wine, in the little more than a year it existed, apparently thrivingly (under the protection of “sponsorship”), wasn’t in all respects great, but – unlike the old Wine mag, I was starting to think before it collapsed – it was better than nothing (in terms of English-language wine-drinker mags).
Watch those shelves. In September? October? November? Perhaps they’ll at least have sold out of the Feb.March issue by then.
[First published under the now deleted “Widow’s Nephew’ section on this website]