Mag Drag: The midyear report on magazine closings says it all.

The “gone for good” list has been compiled for the first half of 2009 … and it looks pretty grim for the magazine industry. In fact, Oxbridge Communications’ Media Finder, a database that tracks U.S. and Canadian periodicals, reports that a record 279 magazine titles ceased publication during the first half of the year.

The news that 187 new magazines were actually launched over the same period is little consolation. The net loss of 92 magazines is more than ever, and demonstrates all too clearly how the recession has hit key market sectors particularly hard – finance, automotive, fashion and several others that have traditionally been major contributors of advertising revenue to print publications.

Which categories of magazines fared worst over the past six months? Media Finder’s data show that “regional interest” publications suffered the most casualties, with 27 magazines in that category folding. “Lifestyle” publications were also hurt, with 14 titles biting the dust. And magazines catering to the construction business and related segments were also hit hard, no doubt reflecting the depressed real estate and housing market.

What’s particularly interesting about the YTD 2009 list of shuttered magazines is that many of them were well known in their category and boasted significant circulation. Certainly, periodicals like Country Home, PR Week, Portfolio, Nickelodeon, Hallmark Magazine and Teen weren’t slouch publications by any means.

What can we expect for the rest of 2009? Is the worst over? Seeing as how the economic recovery is (optimistically) still months away, you’d have to bet on additional magazine titles folding during the second half of the year – including a few more of the big ones.

And we’re certain to see editorial format and other changes being made to some of the more famous publications (such as Newsweek’s recent makeover) in a bid to reestablish their relevance and maintain their financial viability.