City Spotlight: Philadelphia: Publishing 'Wit'
The Saturday Evening Post, which traces its roots back to Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette, is moving back to Philadelphia next year after 43 years in Indianapolis. "The Post is moving back because Philadelphia is our historic home," managing editor Steve Slon told Publishing Executive in December. "It feels right."
Farm Journal Media, founded in 1877 by a Quaker farmer, still has its headquarters in the city, though most editorial operations are in the midwest. Farm Journal magazine at one time had over 4 million subscribers (circulation now stands at 365,000); today it is the flagship of a healthy stable of print and Web products.
"Legacy is the main reason we are here," Steve Custer, executive VP and CEO of Farm Journal Media, says. "Most of our clients are in the midwest, but we have the heritage and we love Philadelphia. It's been very good for Farm Journal over the years."
Farm Journal Media also stays because it can draw from the talent pool of a major city while avoiding the sky-high cost of operating in places like New York or Washington. "I was just looking at office rents for our operation in Kansas City," Custer says, "and our office rates there are as high as they are here."
Down by Washington Square park, once known as the epicenter of Philadelphia publishing, a building (now owned by the University of Pennsylvania) still bears Farm Journal's name. In this part of the city, plaques and markers abound to remind passerby of the legacy of Franklin, Curtis, Annenberg and many others, while elsewhere around town, new legacies are forged by the likes of Painted Bride, Hidden City and Philadelphia Stories.
It seems fitting, as a scene once centralized and institutional has now become diversified and entrepreneurial—qualities that bode well for the business of publishing in the City of Brotherly Love.