Blu mag: New Valley pub launches
Even during robust economic times, the Shenandoah Valley can be a tough market for alternative papers– or dailies.
With print publications dropping like flies, is it really the best time to launch a monthly arts-and-culture tabloid?
"The downturn in the economy is when everyone turns to local and community activities," says Blu Magazine publisher/senior editor Jason Grogan. "The community needs an arts and culture outlet."
So Grogan, a former assistant publisher with the now defunct eightyone, and senior editor/art director Jack Morgan go boldly (where others have failed) to cover Staunton and Harrisonburg along Interstate 81. Ultimately, he says, they'd like to expand to Winchester and Lexington and widen their distribution throughout the Valley.
The first two issues–- June and July–- have been well received, says Grogan. "We're encouraged. We want the paper to be positive, with good news."
And how will Blu succeed where others like eightyone have not?
Grogan notes its arts-and-culture focus and its diversity of writers, none of which have been compensated yet. "We're bare bones," he adds.
In Waynesboro, New Dominion's Chris Graham believes there's plenty of room for another Shen Valley publication. "I think the Valley is under served," he says.
And he doesn't see Blu as competition for New Dominion, also a monthly. "Our focus is news and social issues," explains Graham. "Theirs is arts and culture."
Graham and his wife, Crystal, who also run the Augusta Free Press, have one thing in common with the Blu creators: They're not thwarted by the economy, and they took New Dominion from quarterly to monthly this year. "Like those guys, we started going monthly in a deep recession," says Graham. "We had to do it to grow."
He compliments the look of the Blu Magazine, a stitched-and-trim tabloid on newsprint with a clean design by Gotham Graphix.
"We wanted it to look more like a magazine," says Grogan. "The layout is not so blocky, with fewer corners. The advertising is spaced out. We're using the brightest newsprint we can."
The website at theblumag.com should be up soon, and news boxes are on order to handle the 10,000 print run.
Section heads continue the Blu theme, with Blu Plate food, Blu Screen movies, and Blu Green enviro coverage.
Grogan says no one has commented on the magazine's section called, "Blu Ball" covering community social events, like Blu's launch party.
He adds, "We're trying to have three or four Blu balls a year."