The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Can new California Sunday Magazine succeed?

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77177 full

Don’t write the obituary for the magazine quite yet. There’s a new, weekly starting called “The California Sunday Magazine.” 

Promising “unforgettable reported storytelling,” it’s launching on smartphones, tablets, the web and that increasingly rare medium of print as an insert in the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Sacramento Bee.

“It seems to me it’s intended to be a next generation Parade or USA Today Magazine," said media analyst Ken Doctor.

He points out that Sunday’s are a rare bright spot for newspapers. Circulation is flat - as opposed to down for the daily edition - and as much as 40 percent of a typical paper’s ad revenue comes from the Sunday edition. Still, many people are subscribing on Sunday so they can get digital access, the print numbers certainly aren’t improving, and the ever-thinning USA Today Magazine and Parade are shadows of their former selves. 

So, can California Sunday Magazine make it?

“It all depends on getting the advertisers," said Doctor. "If they’ve lined up even ten advertisers for a year's commitment, it could work.”

We reached out to the magazine’s San Francisco-based editor, Douglas McGray, for comment. He politely declined, writing in an e-mail: “We’re actually going to lay low for a bit, and focus on magazine making.” 

McGray and his publisher, Chas Edwards, are also focused on hiring; They recently posted positions for editors and writers.

McGray has written for The New Yorker and The New York Times magazine and been an editor at Foreign Policy magazine. He's also contributed to the public radio program, This American Life.

As Ken Layne points out on Gawker, the West has produced few high-quality general interest magazines, even during the heyday of print. New West, later renamed California, folded in 1991. 

UPDATE: Douglas McGray e-mailed a statement to KPCC: "Anyone who knows Pop-Up Magazine knows we're not making a new Parade. OK, back to work!"

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