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Magazine, business newspaper suspend publication while exploring options

Future of Coast Business Journal, Coast Magazine uncertain

GULFPORT — Coast Magazine and the Coast Business Journal are ceasing publication, but the publisher of the two periodicals with a combined circulation of 25,000 hopes that the situation is only temporary.

The magazine and business newspaper owned by Ship Island Holding Company have been published for more than 10 years covering Coast culture, art, entertainment, lifestyles and the business community.

Publisher and part-owner Belinda Mallery announced in early April that publication is currently suspended, adding that the company is pursuing other options including attracting potential investors in the hope of resuming operations sometime in the future.

“But nothing is firm yet,” Mallery said, adding that the four employees who were laid off hope to return to work soon.

Coast Business Journal covered economic issues of the area, and was a bi-weekly until recently, when it started publishing monthly. Coast Magazine was a bi-monthly, glossy, full-color magazine that featured personalities like Green Bay Packers football star Brent Favre, a native of the Coast, on the cover. The magazine was similar in content and style to Mississippi Magazine.

Karen Bryant, a former associate publisher and editor of Coast Magazine who went to work when the second issue was published in 1988-89 and remained until the mid-1990s, said the magazine will be missed.

“I do think there will be a void in the community without it,” Bryant said. “I think its mission was to present the unique lifestyle of people here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and cover all aspects of it in a way that no other format could do. I have nothing but respect for the effort put into publishing the magazine.”

Such magazines are very attractive, but also extremely expensive to produce. The Coast Business Journal, by contrast, a tabloid-sized newspaper, was much less expensive to publish and reportedly more profitable than the magazine.

One of the top advertisers for the two publications was Hancock Bank. Paul Maxwell, corporate communications manager for Hancock Bank, said he hopes the company will be able to find the investors they need to start publication again.

“We as a corporation, as well as a lot of individuals, will miss the targeted insight into the Coast business community and — with regard to Coast Magazine — the insight into Coast culture,” Maxwell said. “I think they did an excellent job focusing on the people and places that we call home here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. They presented a very positive, progressive image of our culture down here, as well as a number of insights into the local business community.”

Dr. Samir A. Husni, a professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi who is an expert in magazine publications, said the current downturn in the economy could have caused problems resulting in the decision to cease publication of Coast Magazine and the Coast Business Journal.

“Every time the economy takes a downturn, the first thing that goes out is the advertising budget,” Husni said. “When you are a small, regional publication and published by individual entrepreneurs rather than big media giants, you are the first one to feel the burn. It becomes next to impossible for you to survive. And that’s not something new in the magazine business. Only one out of 10 magazines remain in business after 10 years of publishing. You need a lot of cash flow and money in advance for you to survive. And I don’t see money floating around these days.”

Husni said that on average it takes five years to break even, and another five years to recover the investment spent in the first five years launching a new publication. Most magazines start without enough capital. And while it is important that the editorial content be reflective of the area and type of publication, Husni said that isn’t the most important factor.

“It is rare in our industry that the content of the magazine dictates the success of the magazine,” Husni said. “The management of the magazine is more important than editorial content. Good ideas are a dime a dozen.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Becky Gillette at mullein@datasync.com or (228) 872-3457.

About Becky Gillette

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