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The Making of A Magazine

By Mike Rosso

It occurred to me only this morning that the previous issue of Colorado Central marked my 10th anniversary of purchasing this magazine from Ed and Martha Quillen.

I took the helm in March 2009, making this my 111th issue! I’m trying to wrap my head around that fact but wanted to take a moment to thank all the original subscribers who stuck with us during the changing of the guard, and all the new readers we’ve seen since that time.

In honor of the occasion, I thought I’d take you through a bit of the process of putting out a monthly magazine, using this issue as an example. Many periodicals have their editorial calendars filled up ahead of time. Not us. Although not quite “seat of the pants,” we aren’t always sure on a month-to-month basis what our content will be.

Of course, we can count on our regular columnists, such as John Mattingly and Hal Walter to offer their thoughts and stories on a monthly basis, as well as our semi regular columnists like Tina Mitchell, who this month writes about bees. Often we have feature content “in the can,” as they say; articles which are not necessarily time sensitive, such as historical pieces. But we also have to be flexible for timely events such as the Hayden fire, which we covered several years ago in great detail. We consider news of that nature “organic,” meaning it occurs naturally. As a result, some content is “event driven.”

As an example, this month we knew we were running Steve Chapman’s piece on “working girls” well in advance. Jan Collins’ piece on Cockyed Liz, a former brothel owner in Buena Vista, came a little later, but tied in nicely with Steve’s. John Cameron pitched us the story of Albert Ellingwood’s first ascent of the Crestone Needle only a month or so ago and it seemed a good fit for this issue. The seasons obviously play a big part in the content, such as our Jan/Feb combined “Snow” issue. It wouldn’t make sense to run any of that content in June.

The cover art is often chosen at least a month ahead of time, but that’s not always the case. For instance, this month we didn’t have any specific cover art in mind. Sometimes the cover art relates to the content within, but not always. This month’s cover is a great example. Gunnison photographer Teresa Golden first reached out to us by email on March 6, including some examples of her work. After visiting her webpage, we found the striking photo of the bighorn sheep and decided it would make a great cover, so this happened very spontaneously.

Often the content comes as a surprise, such as the story on page 21 of the original William Henry Jackson photo. Our Places column this month came together at the last minute, as we do not have a regular author for that feature. In the case of this month, we have a new contributor, Ryan Kempfer, whose first-hand knowledge of skiing the angel snowfield on Mt. Shavano made for a great telling of that exploit, and he was able to get this to us by deadline.

Of course, all of this content has to be proofread and copy edited before it goes to print. As editor, I do most of the layout, determining which stories to run and where and how to place them. As the summer months approach, advertising increases, so we add more pages and thus more content.

On that note, I’d like to say a bit about our advertisers. We currently have an income ratio of about 35 percent subscription income and 65 percent advertising, so it is very important that these valuable businesses know their ad dollars are working for them in  a very competitive environment.

Therefore, we ask you – no, we implore you – to support them and let them know you saw their ads in Colorado Central, and to thank them for advertising with us, and their help in maintaining independent, non-corporate media in the 21st century.