The Balance Between Local and Regional Publishing
Some of the most venerable magazines still in print in the US are the super-regionals. These are those grand old publications that speak to a character of a region and of the people who live there; those magazines that reflect that character to the greater demographic and, through their editorial provide an image around which their readers cohere. These magazines are known to all of us, regardless of which region in which we live: Sunset. Southern Living. Midwest Living. And of course, in New England, the three-quarters of a century old Yankee magazine.
A few years ago, when, despite our industry’s chronic pessimism, enthusiasm for regional publishing was at its height, I looked more deeply into the trends that were leading the growth of this publishing category. I discovered them to reflect those of the publishing industry in general: a movement away from general interest content and increasingly in the direction of special interest and niche content. As pet magazines may be succeeded by dog magazines and then sometimes breed-specific magazines, so regional magazines have become increasingly local and topic-specific, following the interests of the audience and the advertising dollars.
This trend has been reflected in the trend of regional magazine launches, away from the editorial- and audience- based lifestyle magazines that help define a region for those who live in it and love it, and towards the increasingly narrowly focused city and regional magazines speaking to a much smaller geographic area and very vertical content: New Hampshire Business. New Hampshire Bride. New Hampshire Home.
The regional publications, to keep their publications strong, have needed to find ways of balancing the local interest of their advertising base with their broader base of readers and their broader content interests. Some publications have done so with the use of many sub-regional editions, each catering to a specific niche or a specific city or locality within a region.
Yankee has risen to the challenge with the purchase of McLean, the publishers of the New Hampshire magazines mentioned above. The addition of the McLean portfolio fills specific advertising-driven niches that will add to the revenue streams of the reader-driven Yankee cannot reach. Between the two companies the range of publications represents the spectrum of the challenges and opportunities faced by our country’s remaining regional publishing companies.