President Arthur introduced the Matt Dees the editor of Durham Magazine and a potential member. Mr. Dees had a little bit of a hard time describing how the 13,000 mailed copies that are published every other month are distributed. I’m not surprised because I get a copy in my mailbox maybe once or twice a year and no more, which is not frequently enough for me to miss it. I suspect it is because the neighborhood I live in might be just under the line from the demographics that lifestyle magazines hope to attract for their advertisers. And yes, I’m a little bit of a low-brow snob whose favorite beverage is PBR and who doesn’t aspire much to a more glamorous lifestyle.
Mr. Dees confessed that his prepared remarks were brief and he was true to his word. Nevertheless, it was an interesting peek into what must go on behind the scenes to get a niche magazine like this out the door every couple of months.
He talked about the difficulty of straddling the line between being positive but not fluff. He described the difference between their Chapel Hill magazine and theDurhammagazine in an interesting way.Chapel Hillseemed to embrace their magazine as an “entitlement” as in “of course we’re a fabulous wine and cheese community.” Durham on the other hand conveyed an attitude of gratitude, like a poor kid invited to the country club party.
He described the content they sought to produce forDurhamas aspirational. Food and restaurant coverage is a big deal as you might expect. As a Realtor I was interested that a regular feature is “Great Homes inDurham.”Durhamtruly does have some great homes and they could use the publicity because the market for them has been dead here for at least 5 years. He also described how they constantly debated taking a more in-depth look at controversial topics and didn’t want to get caught with their head in the sand. He also described how they like to get pictures and the names of people in the magazine obviously because everybody likes to see their names in print, especially as part of a hip crowd.
If anyone was concerned that they would have to go back to the office at 1:00 o’clock when Mr. Dees wound up the presentation, they should have relaxed because there were plenty of questions. Among the questioners and commenters that I recall were President Arthur, Andy Barada, Tom Krakauer, Carolyn Aaronson, BC Dash, Tom Bonfield, SherryDeVries, Deana Labriola, Haleh Moddasser and Ellen Reckhow. Susan Ross provided an endorsement by mentioning that she had given gift subscriptions to severalDurham ex-pats now living elsewhere. What it boiled down to was a bit of a pitch fest. There were lots of potential stories in the room and if Mr. Dees was taking notes he could go back to the office and lay out an editorial calendar for the next several years.
It got my interest up. I went to the magazine’s web site at www.durhammag.com and subscribed for a year. Shortly after that, I got an email acknowledgement of my payment from a Chapel Hill Magazine email address. For some reason that annoyed me a little bit. Maybe I’m aspirational after all.