“Arkansas Life magazine will soon cease publication unless a substantial number of readers become paid subscribers,” our publisher wrote in a letter that went out with January’s issue.
“The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,” the note went on to say, “has published Arkansas Life since 2008 and distributed the magazine free of charge to most readers. We’ve depended primarily on advertising support to pay the bills. Unfortunately, that business model has proven unsustainable in the digital age. Arkansas Life has become the state’s premier monthly magazine but has accumulated significant losses over the past 10 years and continues to operate at a loss.
“People throughout the state have told us how much they enjoy the quality of the writing and graphics in this award-winning monthly. So, in an effort to continue publication, we’re now asking appreciative readers to become paid subscribers at a rate of $20 a year. If most and enough of our readers respond to this appeal, the magazine will continue.”
In closing, it asked non-paying subscribers to buy a subscription.
The night that the editorial staff of Arkansas Life found out about the aforementioned letter, the four of us were sitting around a barely smoldering bonfire at our creative director’s house. After finishing off our franks and s’mores, we took turns reading stories by the firelight.
In those moments, we weren’t talking about the magazine. We weren’t talking about what the magazine had meant to us. We weren’t talking about how it had brought us all together, and how we had become less a work family and more a family family, (and in the case of yours truly and our photographer, this was especially the case—we were married on Nov. 11). But when we did start talking, it wasn’t especially surprising to hear that we all felt the same way:
To work for this magazine in this state at this time is the greatest job in the world. Not only because this magazine is, objectively*, the best in the state, but because of all the opportunities it affords to tell stories about this place that so many people are proud to call home, a place that never ceases to surprise you at every turn. Ultimately, this magazine is something special—and it’s something that, if it ceases to exist, cannot be replaced.
That night, for all of those reasons, we decided that we weren’t ready to let it go just yet—that we’d try to save this thing that we all love so fiercely.
And so, here’s the deal: We’re asking you to subscribe. And we’re not going to sugarcoat things: If we don’t get people to sign up for the magazine by January 15th—just shy of two weeks from now—then it’s going to go away.
However, there’s a reason to be optimistic: For years, we’ve been hearing from people who’ve asked “Where can I find the magazine?” and “How can I help y’all out?” We know there are readers out there who want what this publication has to offer, so we’re asking you to help get the word out. Tell your friends. Share our story with your family.
In short: Help us save this thing that makes our state great—that gives us good reason to be proud to call it home. Help us #SaveArkansasLife
All my best,
Jordan P. Hickey
*We’re not ones to brag, but for the past couple years, our editorial staffers have taken home just about every regional award we’ve entered. Everything from “Writer of the Year”—for two years running, we’ve won this award at both the Great Plains Journalism awards (an eight-state regional competition) and at the IRMA Awards (an international competition)—to countless accolades for our design and photography, (both of which, if you’ve seen the magazine, speak for themselves).
FAQ: If I subscribe and the magazine closes, will I get a refund? Yes! Consider this a quasi-Kickstarter of sorts.