Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Refrigerator Journalism' USA

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Refrigerator Journalism' USA

Article excerpt

No doom and gloom for 'American Profile'

Although the idea for American Profile magazine began to grow early in 1990 -- when advertising and marketing executive Dave Hammond realized that Sunday newspaper readers in big cities got Parade or USA Weekend while those in small towns got overlooked -- the seed for it took root when he was transplanted at age 12 from his birthplace of Indianapolis to Noblesville, Ind.

"Being born in a large city and then moving to a small community and firsthand observing the difference in lifestyle -- I think it helped to prepare me for this incredible love I have for community journalism," said Hammond, 40, who worked most recently as vice president of marketing and strategic planning for Atlanta-based First Data Corp., a Fortune 500 company and world leader in electronic payment transactions, before becoming publisher, chair-man, and CEO of Publishing Group of America, American Profile's privately held parent in Franklin, Tenn.

It took Hammond 10 years to bring his dream to print for technical reasons, but new publishing systems and advances in platemaking have made feasible the creation and production of comparatively smaller press runs of zoned editions.

When he took the business model he had worked on initially with three friends in media-related businesses to potential publishers, Hammond was advised that the magazine would need to fit the local nature of community news. So unlike Parade (circulation 37.1 million) or USA Weekend (circulation 22.4 million), American Profile -- which launched last April with a circulation of 1.1 million and has since zoomed to more than 2.5 million -- is zoned for the Midwest, Southeast, Northeast, Central, and West regions. (With the latter two regions still to launch, by the end of the first quarter this year, the magazine is currently distributed in more than 530 newspapers, and Hammond projects circulation of 15 million by 2004.)

American Profile is also "noncontroversial," Hammond explained. "It is all about the good news of life in hometown America." The magazine pays clear graphic and editorial homage to its metro cousins, offering features with national appeal on family, community, health, money, and entertainment. But each issue also offers regionalized profiles of a small town -- as well as a "hometown hero" -- a "close-to-home" calendar of events, and factoids about each state in the zone. …

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