Monday, May 11, 2009
In Defense of Brewhog (First and Best)
The publishers of Roanoke Valley Home, a three-issue-old publication landing in the Star City, claims it is "the first and only" magazine of its kind in Roanoke. That's just not true. My wife's Blue Ridge Home and Garden enjoyed a nice run five years ago, doing something RVHome doesn't do: it featured sparkling local stories and photography by local writers and photographers. No canned stories, no clipart, no generic "How To Set the Dinner Table" stuff.
RVHome is a pretty magazine, but it is not a Roanoke magazine. It is competently written, but its writers are not familiar to me, and I know Roanoke writers. They appear to be from Lynchburg and Tidewater, by and large (Erin Parkhurst, for example, used to cover Lynchburg for us at the Blue Ridge Business Journal and is a fine writer), and the stories--mostly generic or about the writer--have little to do specifically with the Roanoke Valley. So, in my estimation, it is not a Roanoke Valley mag. It is remarkably similar to Lynchburg/Tidewater magazines (Central Virginia Home and and another on the coast whose name escapes me). Look at the two covers on "Fragrance Gardens" in the current RV and Lynchburg issues. At least the photo is different. Slightly.
Christina's magazine was a tabloid that featured good writing and excellent stories nobody else was doing. These weren't vanity stories, but were journalism-based (Christina's a former editor the of Charlottesville Business Journal and a former TV newswoman) and the range was astonishing--from pinky-raised high tea to dumpster diving and "shabby" chic to the mansion on the hill (often on succeeding pages).
The RV and Central Virginia Homes magazines are attractive and they appear to have been successful thus far (they are quarterly; Christina's was monthly). The writing is solid and the photography striking (much of it clip art, which so many magazines are using on their generic stories--cheaper than hiring local people; at Valley Business FRONT, we have a company policy against using clip art because it cheapens the product). Publishers Colleen Dougherty and Julie Pierce have apparently accomplished what they wanted with these magazines, but they are not first and, for my money, they're not Roanoke Valley local.
Those who read Christina's magazine (which I affectionately called "Brewhog" for the BRHG) loved it. It was the first. For my money (speaking as a guy who's been doing this journalism thing for 45 years and not as Christina's favorite overweight old man), it's still the best.