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Yahoo Mulling Plans to Ax Its Shine Women's Site, Opting for More Online Lifestyle "Magazines"

Slicing and dicing her way into a new media empire?

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer is poised to take an ax to its longtime and massive women-focused content site Shine, closing it down by the second quarter, according to numerous sources close to the situation.

Instead, said these sources, the company is considering chopping it all up and relaunching a series of online lifestyle “magazines,” with a similar model to what it has done with Yahoo Tech and the hiring of high-profile editor and reviewer David Pogue there.

As part of the changes, Jennifer Romolini, the editor-in-chief of Yahoo Lifestyles — which included the newly refurbished Yahoo Food site and Shine — has left her job and is now editor-in-chief of HelloGiggles Productions, according to her profile on LinkedIn.

Sources said other Shine staffers are looking internally for new jobs within the new concept, which has been pushed by Mayer and CMO Kathy Savitt. Savitt also now has all of Yahoo’s large content properties under her purview — because nothing says editorial integrity like having marketing and editorial report to the same person!

What and how many of these magazines will be spun off from Shine is still undetermined, said sources, but they are likely to include individual ones focused on fashion, health and home decor.

It’s a risky move to dice up a property like Shine that has huge traffic and a loyal following, with a bet that the cuttings will sprout well elsewhere and attract more advertiser interest. The property launched in 2008, first under editor-in-chief Brandon Holley and then under Romolini.

While still huge, Shine’s traffic has been declining recently, according to comScore. A year ago in March, it had 42.6 million unique monthly visitors in the U.S., which dropped to 37 million this January and then — inexplicably — to 30 million in February.

Still, Shine has been profitable. But none of that mattered since Mayer disliked the site intensely and has told many that its sensibility was not upscale enough. She talked a bit about her new Yahoo Digital Magazines strategy at CES, when the new Yahoo tech and food sites debuted.

“She thought Shine was not attractive and she aspires to create an online version of Vogue,” said one person close to the situation. “But Shine is a mass-market content site, more like USA Today.”

No longer, it seems, under the Mayer plan, which includes the hiring of a number of glossy editors. The first was Paula Froelich, the former high-profile “Page Six” editor, who will now be Yahoo Travel editor, as was reported by TheWrap earlier today.

Also gone is Yahoo Entertainment editor Scott Robson, who was replaced by Josh Wolk, former editorial director of the Vulture website. Also being eyed for the fashion site, said sources, is Elle creative director Joe Zee, although that is not a done deal.

How Yahoo will piece all of this together is unclear, but the publishing platform at Tumblr will play a role, which Mayer noted at CES. It’s all part of the sweeping changes that are now poised to be unveiled (and that also include another new version of the Flickr photo-sharing service in one week, a change I previously reported was coming).

One thing that has not happened as yet is the hiring of a new media head to replace Mickie Rosen, who left last year. Many insiders think there will not be one either, a sentiment that seems spot-on.

After Mayer bounced COO Henrique De Castro earlier this year, Savitt took over the media duties and seems intent to hold on to that part of the Yahoo empire — which she wrenched deftly from his hands — with a decidedly kung-fu grip.

I pinged Yahoo, which will not be getting back to me, for comment. (Update: One of the more pleasant Yahoo PR peeps did get back to me, though only via email, but … drum roll … no comment!)

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