Ritzy Harvard alumni magazine folds; Yale spin-off likely scrapped

Many Yalies are familiar with the depictions of the lives of the rich and famous on the show “Beverly Hills 90210,” but few realize that a new alumni magazine almost brought this celebrity-loving mindset to their own ZIP code.

Friday, “02138,” a publication about high-profile Harvard University alumni, became the latest in a long list of magazines to fold during the recent economic downturn. The publisher of 02138, Manhattan Media, had hoped to start a similar magazine at Yale, but the idea has now been suspended indefinitely — a turn of events which comes as no surprise to the editor of Yale’s already-existing alumni magazine.

“I was skeptical it would be started and skeptical it would get off the ground if they tried,” Yale Alumni Magazine Editor Kathrin Lassila ’81 said. “The overall scene for magazines today is pretty dicey. It isn’t a great time to start something new.”

It was hard to get a new magazine off the ground even before the economic crisis, Lassila said. Now, thanks to the downturn, so many publications are folding each week that an anonymous blogger has started a Web site called magazinedeathpool.com to predict who will be next.

Pop culture magazine Radar folded along with 02138 Friday morning, for example. Other publications eliminated in the past month include climbing magazine The Alpinist, Hearst Corporation teen publication CosmoGirl, Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion and housekeeping magazine Jewish Living.

Lassila added that a start-up magazine might have had difficulty competing with the already-established Yale Alumni Magazine, which in addition to providing similar content also has access to Yale’s alumni mailing list, which it pays for.

Not only would a Yale version of 02138 arguably have been redundant, it might also have been offensive to some Yale graduates. Six out of the seven current Yale students interviewed for this article said they disliked the magazine’s premise of focusing on wealthy alumni or those who are frequently featured in the media.

“Yale is so much more than that,” said Julia Lurie ‘11, adding that the magazine seems to play into the stereotype of Ivy League elitism that Yale and its peer schools have been working to overcome.

Sam Raredon ’11 said that he would be more interested in reading about people who are using their Yale educations to pursue the arts, sciences and academia than about those whose accomplishments would have been featured in the new magazine.

But Rahim Sayani ‘12 said the magazine could be a good way for alumni to keep in touch after graduation and that having two magazines fill this role was not a problem.

02138 was started in 2006 and bought by Manhattan Media this spring. According to a May 2008 article in the New York Times, Manhattan Media had intended 02138 to be the first of eight similar magazines — one for each Ivy League school.

Its staff is currently putting the finishing touches on their last issue, which will not go to print but will be posted on the magazine’s Web site.


  • G

    It's too bad the idea got scrapped. I would have definitely subscribed to a "06520" magazine. I'm currently subscribed to the Yale Alumni magazine and I hardly read it because it's a bit boring. As a young alum, I would love to read about the glitz and glamor of actual Yale alums-it gives us younger folks something to look forward and aspire to!

  • magsb81

    I think it is the Yale students that are living in a vacuum. They chose to attend, and live on, an ungated urban university campus.
    What is your gripe with Quinnipiac? The New Haven area is home to several colleges/universities, and many college students and non-students, go to Toad’s from other areas. Are you really focusing on QU because they offer safe transportation for their students to local areas, day and night, with their name clearly printed on the shuttles? Other schools may not offer this service, but their students are still there, enjoying the music, dancing, and meeting up with old friends from other local schools.
    You say that college kids are urinating and vomiting in the streets outside of Toad’s, with police watching…seriously? If that is really the case, the police must feel that these are the least of their worries. As long as the patrons (not just QU students) arrive home safely, seems to be a bigger concern. This however, does not seem to be a concern of Yale. The editor of this rag who represents the “university” is a child that has not, and never will have fun. If you are this intolerant now, how will you survive in the real world, Alex? How will you ever find a place of employment that you are willing to travel to and from, morning and night, passing by establishments and the unfortunate folk on the streets of most major cities in our country, that do not pass your “sniff test”? I wish you the best living in your little intolerable bubble.
    A MOM!!