Academic journal article Journalism History

Life at Southern Living: A Sort of Memoir

Academic journal article Journalism History

Life at Southern Living: A Sort of Memoir

Article excerpt

Logue, John, and Gary McCalla. Life at Southern Living: A Sort of Memoir. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000. 323 pp. $24.95.

This is a topsy-turvy history of an important consumer magazine. The lead participant is listed second in the by-line. The writing and editing strays from the concise style that readers have come to expect in Southern Living, and the index is a tease that omits important players and topics. Nevertheless, it is an important insider history of the magazine from its start in the mid-1960s until McCalla retired in 1991.

Unlike contemporary magazine startups that search for subscribers long before the first issue is published, Southern Living was forced upon about 200,OOO ive Farmer subscribers that were summarily transferred from its circulation list. The selected subscribers were "conscripted kicking and screaming," according to Logue and McCalla, but in the fast changing South of the 1960s they did not fit Progressive Farmers profile and were, in fact, a hindrance to its profitability.

A small team was assigned to create the new magazine. It included new hire McCalla, named Mid-South editor, who was short on magazine experience but long on perseverance and courage to succeed in an oddly managed corporation. Logue joined the team a couple of years later and became McCalla's right-hand man long before he was named chief editor of Oxmoor Press, the lucrative off-shoot of Southern Living. …

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