Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Remembering the Business Journal

That's art director Crickett Powell and me checking an edition of the now-defunct Blue Ridge Business Journal being printed at the Roanoke daily newspaper's big press in downtown Roanoke.

This was probably about 2000, judging from the wedding ring on my left hand. When Christina and I were married, I tried for a brief time to wear a ring, but it didn't take. Drove me batty. Eventually, the marriage didn't take, either, but C's a good friend.

I had a good 20-year run at the BRBJ, but left when the daily paper started exercising control over what we did there. The paper had bought us and left us alone through two publishers, but when Debbie Meade took over, things changed for the worst  (and I don't mean "worse" here).

Meade immediately brought in her own guy--one with no experience in business journalism and publications--who wanted to benchmark what we were doing. That is a word most often used by people with no originality, no creativity, no clue. When he started, we'd just had the best seven month financial run in our history. He left when the mag died broke. After Tom Field, the GM, and I left to found Valley Business FRONT, a succession of reluctant editors was appointed. The BRBJ read like a newspaper, no personality at all. It stunk.

FRONT is now in its fifth year and remains, in my strong opinion, the most interesting business publication in Virginia, regardless of the Roanoke Regional Chamber's preference. After about two years and a lot of money poured into trying to save the BRBJ, it  was unceremoniously folded by the local daily. There was not even an announcement in the final issue that it was toast. Meade blamed the failure of a 22-year-old successful publication on a bad business model. It was the same model that had proved successful--and still does--in communities all over the country.

Anyhow, Tom and I felt like we had a hand in the collapse of the BRBJ, just as we had a hand in its success. We smiled at that.

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