But if you’re looking for a county to launch in, you can’t do much better than Arlington, one of the wealthiest counties in the country and willing to use creative means to stay vibrant. The cover captures it in two words: ”Boom Town.”
Arlington Magazine launched late last month, emboldened by the success of a sister publication, Bethesda Magazine. While those of us in the Old Dominion may not be so familiar with this Maryland-centric publication, its most recent issue was a fat 336 pages, Arlington Magazine publisher Greg Hamilton said this week.
And though some print publications (cough cough) might give you the impression that print media are, uh, declining, magazines have stood firm against the digital tide. Hamilton noted that Time Inc. still rakes in 86 percent of its revenue from its hard copy publications, and that magazines in general have not suffered the grievous hits that the daily newsprint-based outfits have.
And so, on a bimonthly basis, here comes Arlington Magazine with a first issue press run of 25,000 copies, and a healthy 104 pages.
Hamilton is a former chief marketing officer for Congressional Quarterly, and also worked for SmartBrief and National Journal Group. His co-founder is Steve Hull, who launched that Bethesda Magazine (336 pages!) in 2004 after 14 years with Atlantic Media and various other journalism jobs before that. Hamilton and Hull hired Jenny Sullivan as editor of Arlington Magazine, who comes from Builder magazine, where she was senior architecture and design editor.
Hamilton and his family have lived in Arlington for 11 years, currently in the Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhood, and that was a big part of why he chose Arlington for a magazine. “People love to read about where they live,” he said. “I live here. For local coverage, it’s very helpful to be part of the community. It becomes a very personal, intimate experience.”
Some mass market magazines have had success by not placing their content online, forcing folks to subscribe or buy individual copies. Arlington Magazine is going to start out that way, but Hamilton said next year he estimates about a quarter of the magazine’s most service-oriented material will migrate online — restaurant reviews, bloggers, listings. Washingtonian and Northern Virginia magazines also limit their online stuff, reserving the premium pieces for the print edition.
Hamilton is enthusiastic not only about the magazine, but about Arlington itself, where his kids are in public schools and he and his wife love their community. “It’s my dream job,” he said.
A print publication being launched in 2011? “People still like to read magazines,” Hamilton said. “Turn off the computer, sit on the couch and read a magazine.”
As I wade through my living room piled high with Sports Illustrateds, New Yorkers, Vanity Fairs, Rolling Stones and Highlights Puzzle Manias, I think he may have something there. As an old school print guy, I can only say, Good luck. Lead on.