Reprinted from yesterday's late edition
The Potomac Journal, which may sound familiar but actually is brand new, was christened Wednesday night in the grand old tradition of Washington journalism - with a Georgetown party.
What made the Journal's launching different from most gatherings of the word-and-mouth crowd were the glitterati. Or lack of them.Some guests were obscure regional politicians looking for a friendly constituent, others were obscure regional constituents looking for a friendly celebrity.
"I'm looking for anybody from Montgomery County," said Maryland Del. Dave Scull from 6-foot-plus vantage point that left no doubt that he was serious.
"I won yesterday," he said, immediately putting everybody's mind at ease. "My uncle - Blair Lee - ran for governor and he did not win." Polite smiles gave way to embarrassed smiles.
"We're from the wrong part of the state," said Scull.
Right or wrong part, that part of Maryland as well as other ring counties and the entire Richmond-Washington-Baltimore corridor, will come under editorial examination by new monthly newsmagazine, according to its publisher/editor Ellen Morgenstern.
She hit upon the idea for the magazine a year or so age after six years of reading both The Washington Post and Washington Star - "both good, but more national newspapers than local. I couldn't get on to what was happening in the ring counties. I felt it was very difficult to hook on to local politics in the area."
Supported by Jan Lipkin, a Washingtonian with similar misgivings and like Morgenstern without any journalism experience, Morgenstern set out to learn whether "people with roots here" agreed. Many did. Encouraged further that Ford Foundation seed money might be available, she and Lipkin worked out a game plan.
Thirteen months and one 32-page premiere issue later, the Brooklyn-born Morgenstern writes in the Journal's "Up Front" publisher/editor column:
"Our aim is simple . . . state and local governments affect the quality of our lives every day; and yet most citizens know much less than they should about them and the people who make them work . . ."
Wednesday night's bravos for Vol. 1. No. 1 came from lawyers, professors, sociologists, psychologists, journalists, congressional aides, relatives, friends and at least one U.S. senator, Virginia's Harry F. Byrd, who had read it cover-to-cover over the weekend and rated it "well done." Further critiquing, he apologized, would have to wait for later issues.