Corrections or additions?

This article by Richard K. Rein was prepared for the April 30, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

On New Magazines

Faithful readers will recall that just a month or two

ago we concluded our little discussion of how to create a community

newspaper and how to think critically about the final product. We

noted that, once a community is defined and an editorial scope is

determined, the actual process of putting together a single issue

requires the reasoning prowess of a typical fifth grader.

For that reason no one should be too surprised that in the brief period

of time since that discussion, I have encountered three new publications

serving our central New Jersey market. Just to exercise our critical

thinking — and not to tell any other publisher how to run his

or her business — I think we should take a look at them. Before

we do, though, let me repeat the observation made in the last column

of our ongoing "media watch:" publishing people can dish it

out, but they often can’t take it.

We received the equivalent of icy glares from two of the publications

we "reviewed" in our March 19 column, despite the fact that

we had major praise and only minor criticism for each. And we also

got a few long faces from some of our own U.S. 1 staff, who felt they

had been publicly chastened for putting out a paper that wasn’t as

entertaining as "U.S. Fun" had once been. That said, and hoping

that the newfound entrants in the media wars won’t take this too personally,

here we go:

Princeton. You have to like the title of this new magazine,

which appears to be a quarterly, since the issue I saw was "Spring

2003, Issue 2." The cover proclaims that is dedicated to "arts,

culture, & living" and above the logo, which is rendered in the

style of New York magazine, are other towns within its orbit: Trenton,

Bucks County, and New Brunswick.

The staff box inside notes that the magazine is published by Media

Resources Group LLC of 379 Princeton-Hightstown Road. What I like

is that the fourth name listed in that box, editor-in-chief Gary R.

Wien, is the same as the sixth name, production assistant Gary R.

Wien. Welcome to the business, friend. I have been here 19 years as

editor and publisher and two weeks ago I earned the title of refrigerator

decontamination specialist.

As always, I wonder what vision the editor has for the paper and how

much control he or she has to implement that vision. This issue of

Princeton magazine, oddly, has an excellent collection of pieces on

New Brunswick’s cultural and social scene. But how do you explain

the fawning tribute to the new Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village,

written by the editor-in-chief, no less? Maybe the full-page ad on

page 13 helped create that vision.

And then there is an appreciative — but not fawning — portrait

of editor George Taber, owner of the New Brunswick-based NJBiz Magazine,

written by Diana Lasseter Drake. No problem there, except that no

one bothers to tell the reader that Drake toiled for many years as

an employee of Taber. It’s a grain of salt that readers deserve when

evaluating an article.

Bucks. If you like the glossy feel of Princeton magazine,

you will love Bucks, which is both bigger and glossier — Town

& Country in its heft — and packed with color photographs. Bucks

is based in New Hope, but it is showing up in upscale mailboxes in

Princeton. The magazine’s editorial director, Richard Jaccoma, proclaims

in the premiere issue that the magazine is "regional, not provincial"

and that it considers its "suburbs" to be New York, Philadelphia,

and of course Princeton.

That may sound like a reach, but the first issue acquits itself nicely

with a photo feature on Princeton architect Robert Hillier’s Bucks

County home. And a mini-portrait of actress Blair Brown, who just

completed a run in "The Tempest" at McCarter, reveals that

the actress has a country home in Sergeantsville, on the New Jersey

side of the river.

The biggest challenge for this editor may be that he reports to not

one but two publishers — the co-founders of the magazine are high

school classmates from a quarter century ago who are now publisher

and creative director and publisher and advertising director. Most

editors would prefer cleaning out contaminated refrigerators to reporting

to two publishers.

Prime Time Arts & Entertainment. Here is another publication

based in New Hope, but which started appearing in a news box on Nassau

Street just last month. Unlike the other two publications, this one

is printed on newsprint. Its editor (or at least the person who writes

the editorial introduction on page 2) is also the president and publisher:

Trina Robba.

This publication concentrates on the visual and performing arts, with

some dining, movies, and destinations thrown in. Because of its apparent

low overhead and lean management at the top, it would get my bet for

still being around in another year or so.

But maybe not. I hear there’s a fifth grade class in West Windsor-Plainsboro

that’s about to launch a new publication of it own. We shall see.

Corrections or additions?

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