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Sacramento Journal ends publication after practically 5 a long time

The August issue of Sacramento Magazine is its last. The monthly magazine has closed after 48 years of operation.

The parent company of Sactown Magazine, a competitor, has bought the assets of Sacramento Magazine from Sacramento Media. This acquisition by Metropolis Publishing included Sacramento Magazine’s subscription list, according to a news release issued by both magazines.

As part of the purchase agreement, Sacramento Magazine subscribers will get copies of Sactown Magazine.

The reason for the demise of Sacramento Magazine was not explained in the news release.

“As owners of Sacramento Magazine, we have taken a lot of pride in what this publication has accomplished,” Sacramento Media CEO Stephen Wanczyk stated. “We deeply appreciate the support of the community, our readers and the advertising partners over the last eight years.”

Sacramento Media is a subsidiary of Hour Media, the publisher of Hour Detroit Magazine and Cincinnati Magazine. The company bought Sacramento Magazine in 2015 from Sacramento businessman Mike O’Brien who had owned it since 1993.

Prior to 1993, the magazine had been majority owned by Micromedia Affiliates of Morristown, New Jersey.

Last December, Hour Media sold its other California publications, Los Angeles, Orange Coast and Pasadena magazines for more than $6 million.

No purchase price was disclosed for Sacramento Magazine’s assets.

Sacramento Magazine Publisher Dennis Rainey said in an email that the shutdown of the Sacramento magazine came as a surprise. He said staff was informed on July 21 that there would be no future issues.

While national magazines have struggled for years in the changing media landscape that has also impacted newspapers and television stations, regional city magazines have been a bright spot, said Chicago-based magazine consultantJoe Berger.

“If it’s niche and if it’s done well and it’s done by enthusiasts who really know their market, then the magazines can survive,” said Berger.

Berger said one advantage niche magazines have is they rely heavily on freelancers for their stories instead of employing more costly staff writers.

Sacramento Magazine had no staff writers while Sactown Magazine has one.

Berger said it’s remarkable that Sactown Magazine, launched from scratch in 2006, was able to successfully take on its long established rival, Sacramento Magazine.

Sacramento Magazine, founded in 1975, had already been around for 31-years when Sactown Magazine came out with its first issue.

The new magazine was founded by Sacramento native Ron Turner and his wife Elyssa Young. Turner had spent a decade in New York City as a magazine journalist and met Young at Money Magazine before moved to Sacramento to start the magazine.

Turner said that Sacramento Magazine made its mark on the city and on his own career.

“We have nothing but respect for the team that has been producing Sacramento Magazine for decades. Very early in my career, I used to freelance for the magazine and have always been grateful for that opportunity. They’ve shined a spotlight on hundreds of worthy stories since 1975, and our city is certainly better for their efforts.”

Path to success for upstart magazine

Sactown Magazine’s mix of stories resonated well with readers, and it surpassed Sacramento Magazine’s circulation. The magazine featured stories on hot new chefs and unique shops but also ran hard news stories and 5,000 to 8,000 word profiles on locals who made it big like Barbie Director Greta Gerwig and NBC newscaster Lester Holt.

“I was born and raised in Sacramento and I always found that a magazine was a great way to tell a story of the region–through journalism, photography, design and illustration,” Turner said.

Turner said Sactown’s current subscriber circulation is 35,000. Sacramento Magazine had 30,000, circulation figures show.

Sactown Magazine was also getting more advertisements, a key producer of revenue for magazines, Berger said.

The August issue of Sacramento magazine was 122 pages and featured several dozen full-page advertisements.

In contrast, the July-August issue of Sactown Magazine was 208 pages. It was the magazine’s 100th anniversary edition and had more than twice the number of full-page ads than its competitor.

Turner said the summer issue is the biggest in the magazine’s history in terms of page count and revenue.

He said he has not had much time, given the recent acquisition of Sacramento Magazine, to focus on what the future will bring for Sactown Magazine.

“But our goal, as always, is to just keep on improving–both in terms of quality and improving the business,” he said.

He also said Sactown is looking at areas of growth including improving the magazine’s digital presence and possibly holding public events.

Sacramento Magazine had held an annual Best of Sac Party, where select restaurants and bars offered samples of their food and drink.

The August issue’s back page advertises this year’s event that was scheduled for Nov. 9 at the Safe Credit Unit Convention Center.

The magazine and the ad were already printed when staff got a sudden word that Sacramento magazine was no longer.

Associated tales from Sacramento Bee

Randy Diamond is a enterprise reporter for The Sacramento Bee.

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