Upscale Rotogravure

As cable television devolves into narrowcasting and magazines increasingly aim at a segmented market, newspapers are joining the trend with their own way of targeting demographics: starting up magazines designed to appeal to just a slice of their readership-or, in some cases, a readership different from their own.

Take The Miami Herald’s glossy upscale quarterly, Good Life, which premiered this spring with a 60,000-copy press run. Produced by the Herald’s editorial staff and its ads sold by the paper’s sales force, it is mailed direct to homes in parts of South Florida where the newspaper isn’t sold. “There are not a lot of print publications that reach those individuals, and they don’t all live in one place,” explains Stawski, adding that Good Life is designed to suit both “high-end magazine readers” (incomes of over $125,000) and advertisers interested in reaching them.

So far it’s working. Not only did the premiere issue turn a profit, says Stawski, but for the next issue the company plans to weed out ads that don’t quite fit the publication.

Not all of these high-end publications are as relentlessly upscale as Good Life, whose subject matter ranges from interior decorating and cosmetic surgery to yacht rentals.

Copley Newspapers outside Chicago has had considerable success with its year-old 60504/Fox Valley Villages-named for the suburban ZIP code it covers. A cross between a newspaper and a magazine, 60504 is aimed at white-collar professionals with children. The free weekly, which is mailed to 11,000 households, mixes its parenting and lifestyle stories with community news.

The niche publications can also broaden a newspaper’s editorial reach. Contra Costa Newspapers in California has found that its high-end, leisure-oriented magazine, In Sync, which appears with the Contra Costa Sunday Times, provides a venue for stories “we wouldn’t do in the daily paper,” says editor Lisa Wrenn. And advertisers like the glossy format, too: Created as a quarterly in November 1995, In Sync performed well enough to go monthly the following March.

Though newspaper-industry observers generally applaud moves to broaden the newsprint franchise, the demographic-targeting trend has raised some concerns. “The risk is you can end up with a very fragmented sense of the metropolitan whole,” says Sig Gissler, a professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and former editor of the Milwaukee Journal. “The challenge for journalism is to provide readers with the full picture. The biggest danger is that that can get lost.”

Posted by on July 21, 1997