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Water Over The Edge

Tom PattonI was sad to read about the end of “Waters’ Edge”, the upscale magazine published by The Florida Times-Union describing life near the water. Not so much because I was a subscriber, because I’m not, though my wife had picked up the magazine somewhat regularly at the news stand. But more because it’s another harbinger of where journalism may be going.

According to the paper, six staffers will be losing their jobs.

It makes you wonder how much room there is for a glossy, well written, high-end print publication in this new media age. I enjoyed leafing through an issue of “Water’s Edge”, looking at pictures of homes that I would be lucky to visit, but in which I knew I had about a less-than-1 percent chance of ever owning. Immaculately decorated, spectacular views, kitchens to die for (I always look at the kitchens in those magazines and dream), but not how most of us are able to live. It was truly a dreamers magazine.

The advertising, too, seemed to be targeted to the people who lived in the houses. No matter. Often times the reason to look is to get an idea and determine how you can do it on a budget. Sometimes you can get close.

But with only 8,500 subscribers, and a print run of 15,000 copies, again according to the paper, and with Morris Communications financial issues well documented, “Waters Edge” seemed to be as much a luxury as the houses and lifestyle it portrayed.

The announcement comes on the heels of the news that “Skirt” magazine will be folded into the pages of The Times-Union. Skirt, as you likely know (or could glean from the title) is geared to women. But apparently it was having a difficult time standing on its own, even distributed for free in paper boxes around the area. That might not mean the loss of more jobs, but it is another niche publication that is being absorbed in this media consolidation.

It seems more and more specialty publications are moving to the web, or just fading away. I’ve been contracted to write for “Aero News Network”, which migrated from a print publication to the Internet 10 years ago. While the big airplane publications are all still out there, they are all looking for ways to make better use of this newfangled distribution medium called “The Internet”, as the cost of printing a glossy, or even a pulp magazine continues to climb.

So, it isn’t really surprising that a magazine like “Water’s Edge” would struggle, and even fold. Given the state of the economy, the advertisers who keep such magazines afloat are struggling as well, and advertising is one of the first things to go as companies try to stay in business.

So, it’s unfortunate that Water’s Edge will no longer be published, and I can certainly empathize with the 6 staffers who’ll be losing their jobs. It does seem to be a sign of the times, that a publication which was so focused on those who were able to live well has gone on hiatus.

Perhaps for good.

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