Stunning magazine began as a 'leap of faith'...

The ideas and enterprise at our newspapers have sparked changes to meet the challenges of both the struggling economy in our hometowns and advances in technology. Looking at new sources of revenue, the Hood River News and reporter Janet Cook took a leap of faith: a coffee-table-worthy quarterly magazine.

The Gorge Magazine is printed on high-quality paper with professional photography and has free distribution sites from Portland to Seattle, Boise and beyond. Advertising rates are as high as $1800 for the back cover. A far cry from the rates for special sections and focus pages for hometown small businesses that have helped Eagle’s newspapers dent the loss of real estate broker and auto dealer advertising.

The first edition last spring was expected to be a hard sell and budgeted accordingly, but there was no skimping on the content—64 pages with 22 advertisers. Stunning professional color photography jumped off the slick stock. Wardrobe, makeup and hair stylists prepared individuals before some photos. With it in hand to show prospective advertisers the sales job became a bit easier.

One year and two issues later, the Summer 2013 issue clocked in at 84 pages and 120 advertisers, plus a 32-page booklet insert, Gorge Winery + Brewery Guide. Its format was an opportunity for Columbia Gorge breweries, wineries, vendors and festivals to buy a small format ad at affordable prices—half-page ad for $495, less for smaller ads and much less for contact-only listings.

An 84-page Fall issue recently hit the stands and web!

The Gorge Magazine came about beginning two years ago when another local magazine, The Columbia Gorge Magazine, closed its doors after about nine years of publishing a quarterly magazine. “The former magazine announced it was closing and a couple of days after that, I was standing at one of the office printers waiting for something to come out,” Janet recalls. “Joe Petshow came over and said, ‘We should start a magazine and you should be the editor.’” She laughed, but Joe said he was serious. “I guess the rest is history,” Janet says.

The idea wasn’t actually too far-fetched. Janet earned a master’s degree in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. After graduating, she worked at Women’s Sports and Fitness magazine before returning in the late 1990s to Hood River—a place she’d discovered and fallen in love with and decided she couldn’t live without while a student at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.

There being a dearth of journalism jobs in the Gorge, she was happy to land work as a reporter and feature writer at the Hood River News, where she has more or less remained. She was the News’ Kaleidoscope editor for several years.

The magazine’s start-up took months, during which Micki Chapman, long-affiliated with the Hood River News—once in advertising, and for years as a graphic designer—was hired as ad director.  Rachel Hallett, who was the creative director at the former magazine, was hired in the same position. She worked initially as a contractor, but has recently come onboard as an Eagle employee.

Other long-time Hood River News employees working with the magazine are Joe Deckard, as an advertising account rep, and Adam Lapierre, a contributing editor. “It’s taken a lot of effort for our small staff to get this off the ground and keep it going,” Janet said. “But much credit goes to Joe for taking a leap of faith on this. He’s been a huge help all along in many aspects of it, and continues to be.”