Pittsburgh region's magazines doing OK

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So how are Pittsburgh's magazines surviving the economic downturn?

Pretty well, to hear their publishers talk -- even if that optimism is shaded with some wariness about next year.

Pittsburgh Quarterly, an upscale glossy aimed at readers looking for substantive editorial content about the region, had its best year yet in 2008, with no decline in ad pages from 2007, said its publisher and editor, Doug Heuck.

"I do expect the ad climate to be a little softer this year, but when things are soft, there's a flight to quality and that should serve us well, because we have a much longer shelf life than any other local magazine, and advertisers know that," Mr. Heuck said.

Whirl Magazine, a monthly which bills itself as a lifestyle publication that also covers Pittsburgh's social scene, saw its ads increase in 2008 over 2007 "of anywhere between 20 and 40 percent," said publisher Jack Tumpson. Whirl's December issue was 168 pages, compared to 148 pages the year before, he added.

"The naysayers are everywhere, but take a walk on the street," Mr. Tumpsen said. "People are still out, still smiling, still in the stores, and the same holds true for magazines."

To be sure, "Next year will be soft, no doubt about it. I see it as steady, without the banner increases of this year."

Betsy Benson, publisher and vice president at Pittsburgh Magazine, which is owned by WQED, was guardedly optimistic about 2009.

"Some advertisers are more tentative about advertising in this economic environment, but others recognize this as an opportunity to build market share and brand awareness while their competitors are hanging back," she said. "We view any downturn in the same way: As an opportunity to showcase our solid 40-year history in Pittsburgh with a promotional vehicle that advertisers can trust."


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