American-Statesman Gets REAL
Hidden between the folds of the Austin American-Statesman Friday, March 30, 2012 you may have noticed something new, not seen before.
“REAL” is the newspaper’s newest magazine, subtitled “Authentic Austin Living”. “Each issue will bring readers the city’s spin on fashion, home design, health, neighborhoods, family, pets, events and more. This month’s issue will focus on Austin’s culinary scene. Next month’s issue will concentrate on Austin neighborhoods,” according to the news release announcing its publication.
“REAL magazine is a natural extension of what the Austin American-Statesman staff does every day in our features pages,” said Kathy Blackwell, Statesman Senior Editor for Features and REAL magazine. “It’s a new outlet for the staff’s creativity, passion and commitment to covering the city and the amazing people who make it what it is.”
Blackwell put the magazine more into perspective in her first column. “To me, what it means to be ‘Real Austin’ has changed in the more than 12 years I’ve lived here,” Blackwell writes. “To put it another way, as my life has changed, the city has changed with it. When I moved here as a single woman, I relished in the late nights of live music… I still love all of that, but as a mother, wife, and professional, I’m more appreciative of the outdoor spaces, the amazing restaurants and the sense of community I encounter daily.”
REAL replaces “Glossy”. Remember Glossy? Did you read it? I remember having lunch with a close friend whose background is in print media. “What’s up with this ‘Glossy’ thing?” I asked shortly after it debuted. The title itself said that it wasn’t for me. “REAL” has more reach. “We didn’t research a target audience per se. The goal in launching REAL was to be able to offer broader content and reach a larger portion of the Austin American-Statesman audience. REAL: Authentic Austin Living allows us to accomplish this,” says Shannon Cockrell, Sr. Segment Marketing Manager/Audience.
But let’s get real: REAL is an advertising vehicle. Thumbing through the pages, you’ll see that there are an almost mind-numbing number of ads. I didn’t even try to count them. The announcement release says the magazine will reach more than 74,000 residents. (The magazine says 76,000 households.)
While the most noticeable content may be ads, REAL is reader-friendly. “A format like this gives our talented reporters and photographers a chance to explore Austin in different ways…” I always say “Content is king.” If you don’t have strong content, nobody is going to care. Nobody is going to read it.
Sifting through the advertisements and the “stories” with a commercial tilt, there is content starting on about the 41st page focusing on food and the people who prepare it. It’s the featured story of the first issue with the headline on the cover, “How we rose to the top of the food chain/behind Austin’s emergency as the hottest culinary city.”
The photos are superb. My favorite is a stop-action, mid-air shot of a lady flying from a mechanical bull. Did you know that bull riding is good for the abs? There are bull riding classes. It appears that every Statesman photographer contributed to the issue.
REAL also has an online component. “Complementing the print product is the REAL website at statesman.com/real. It features an expanded product guide, the Keeping it Real blog, neighborhood photo galleries and interactives,” the release says.
© Jim McNabb, 2012