Getting published is a real be-yatch! Hear about my ups, downs and a few random rants in between.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Life Beyond Essence: It's not me, It's You

A letter to my old-school loves:

Once upon a time you were all I read because you fulfilled my needs. One of you served my inner hip hop head and the other helped me round it out, ensuring I never lost my lady-like ways. Your insights were enough that I never needed any other lifestyle mags. And even when I strayed, it was only a newsstand purchase, never a subscription.

But, I divorced one of you a few years ago. And I let the relationship with the other lapse only recently.

And while I hate to do this, so publicly - couldn't risk you causing a scene - I think it's best if we just ended it here. I've found another. Actually, feeling a little freaky, I found a few others to fill the void.

Yes, my love affair with Essence and Vibe has come to an end. And since I'm cleaning house, I've also parted ways with Ebony and Jet. It's nothing personal, just lately, they all bore me.

Sure there are glimmers of goodness in all of them. But at nearly $4 a pop, I need more than a glimmer.

At one time, I was in awe of Essence and Vibe. They were among my top two wish list when I was hot and heavy into freelancing. But the stars fell off my eyes awhile ago.

Essence really kind of put the last nail in the coffin for me when the cover of their Hollywood issue featured, for the bazillonth time, Denzel. Yes, yes, we all love Denzel. It's a felony in at least 48 states not to!

But were there simply NO other black actors, with projects out, who were cover worthy?

Look, I know their jobs are hard enough trying to be everything to every body...every black body that is. And twice as difficult when the magazine is expected to set new trends, reach new heights all while maintaining a strong circulation of subscribers.

But I'll go ahead and say it. All-in-all, urban lifestyle magazines - read, black - are in need of a huge gust of fresh perspective and a pinch of trail blazing spit fire.

It's the lack of trend setting among my steadies that has me jonsing for other mags. That's why my head was so easily turned by The Ave and Uptown mag. Both have got me totally open.

Thanks to BV for lacing me with copies.

It's been a long time since I've picked up a mag and been unable to recognize half the profiles. And that's a good thing. Because I'm sick, sick, sick of the bandwagon thing where Magazines A, B, C through Z all feature the exact same profiles.

Yes, I get it. An artist or actor has a new project out and their publicist puts them out there on a press junket.

I get that if said celeb is truly hot they'll have enough mag covers to make a pretty bouquet of glossy pages.

But, covers aside, magazines and news papers are supposed to be covering what's NEW or showcasing issues that provoke thought not recycling the same tired background just because a star has a new project or giving us the same seasonal stories, i.e. "Get your man in ten easy steps."

I wanted to stand up and cheer when I read The Ave's article debating the death penalty, revolved around the execution of Tookie Williams - former gangbanger and children's book author.

I felt like doing cartwheels when Uptown showcased Sistahs of Harlem instead of Baby Phat and instead of another article on Angela Bassett (due respect, the sister has skillz) they did a profile on Tamara Tunie, long-time actress on As The World Turns. A true blast from the past since I haven't watched soaps since college.

It's not that Angela Basset and Baby Phat don't deserve ink. But what will Magazine B cover that Magazine A didn't?

It's been a long time since I've been green. I lost my innoncence some time ago as a PR Chick. You can't stay virginal long when reporters tell you flat out, your product is good and worthy of ink but they won't touch it with a ten-foot keyboard until at least two other premier media outlets does.

So, yeah, I know how the game is played.

It only takes one brave outlet to set the trend. Well, I need a mag that's a leader.

Used to be that media outlets were all about the "scoop," being able to get a story before their brethren. Once a story was scooped, it was old news. The outlets moved on to something else.

Now, it's nothing to go by a newsstand and see the same celeb on four different covers. Hmmm...what exactly is my motivation for buying all four?

As a consumer, (and I told you, I'm just old school like that) I read magazines to see what's hot out there. What they say is hot doesn't dictate my life. I just mean, when I pick up a mag I'm hoping to read about people, places and things I don't know anything about.

One of the reasons I have let ALL my mag subscriptions lapse is because not one mag has offered me that in a long time.

Now, The Ave and Uptown are quarterly. Which is a bummer, because it's hard to keep news fresh when it's only coming out four times a year. Yet, the info within both issues was more refreshing and interesting than the most recent issues of Vibe and Essence.

Being that The Ave is a nod to us aging hip hop heads and Uptown lets me get my professional grown woman on, both can easily replace their more established counterparts.

Competition is a good thing.

So, a word to my old loves, I'll gladly come back to you as a subscriber, when I can no longer predict what will be within your pages. A girl needs a little adventure, ya know?

Until then, I've gotta get my urban lifestyle jones filled elsewhere. So, along with The Ave and Uptown, I'm having a menage a quatre (ahh, five years of french and this is the best I can do. Madame Ogilvy will be so disappointed):

Black Enterprise- Really love BE. If you close your eyes and read the content...well, you can't but I'm saying, if it weren't for the mag's monikor the advice within is equally as relevant across the races.

Jewel- still trying to cop an issue

America Magazine- Picked this up in the barbershop one day. It was the issh with a profile on Gordon Parks. Mad, interesting!

Upscale- Has always been a low-budget version of Essence. But from a content perspective, always veers more towards the unique vs. the bandwagon. Their website can sometimes be a little dated. But here's a perk - when you click "subscribe" the covers with Vivica and Gabrielle are two I contributed to. See what I mean by a little dated?


Blogger Don Tate II said...

My wife recently bought me a subscription to BE. At first, I had an attitude. "Do I look like I want to read business stories about rich execs?" But after picking it up, its really a good read, with stories of success I can relate to. Vibe puts me off because they seem to have gone the way of trash, borderline porn. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm a guy, so I don't mind sleeze, but whats a music magazine have to do with naked people?

1:16 PM

Blogger Miss P AKA Her Royal Cliqueness said...

BE really covers some interesting people/companies/issues.

My biggest issue with Vibe is that their content is never fresh, anymore. Also, it feels incredibly formulaic.

It could be that Vibe has just passed me by and that they're trying to appeal more to my 11 y.o daughter. That's fine, if that's the case. But I always thought they were going for a more mature audience.

2:05 PM


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