PEORIA -- Peoria's newest magazine, The Peorian, won't be doing investigative reporting, its editor, former Peoria Journal Star business editor Paul Gordon said.
It will run poetry and fiction, but it won't be the New Yorker of Peoria, Gordon said. "I just want to have fun," he added.
The Peorian made its debut on Sept. 15, at a news conference where many of the creators were introduced.
"We're not looking for bad news, but "upbeat news," Gordon said.
"We're going to become the voice of the community. We're going to ask hard questions," publisher Julie Russell, said, perhaps unaware that she had just contradicted her editor.
But let's not be fooled, here. This is an advertising vehicle. "We're an ad agency. We already publish three magazines, 90 websites," plus do TV shows and events, Russell said. She's the principal in AdCo Advertising Agency, Inc.
The 66-page, slick, colorful magazine has a cover photo of Mayor Jim Ardis and others in a rowboat on the Illinois river.
"Photo-shopped?" sniffed a PJS staffer at the news conference, as the audience began to mingle. (For the non technical: that's asking whether the five people in the boat were actually on the river for the photo, or whether their photo was imposed on a photo of the river.)
And yes it was photo-shopped. See this link.
One thing's for sure: nobody wants to rock the local boat, the magazine staffers said. At least not intentionally.
It will contain feature stories, book reviews, spotlights on not-for-profits, even a serialized novel by local mystery writer Norm Kelly. It will be "heavy on the arts." (Take that, PJS, which has laid off most of its arts staff.)
And here's a new twist: restaurant reviews won't be surprise reviews. Instead restaurants will be warned in advance, and asked to prepare their best for the "reviewers."
Well -- that's fine for them, but what about ordinary customers? Isn't the purpose of a restaurant review a story about its usual fare, so that customers can decide whether to try it?
Restaurant and arts critic Kevin Kizer said he plans to review local writers -- a good idea. The first issue has a review of The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, a big name writer who once taught at Illinois State University in Bloomington/Normal. It has scenes set in Peoria.
"One character describes (Peoria) as being 'remarkably flat' as if 'stamped on with some cosmic boot.' " (Did Wallace really ever visit Peoria?)
Wallace committed suicide before it was published and it likely was not completely finished. It has been panned by some critics, and Kizer doesn't much like it either, though he concludes "it's not to be missed." So much for upbeat stories.
Gordon said The Peorian won't compete with the PJS or InterBusiness Issues, but of course that's not true: it competes for the advertising dollars.
It also has a website, with some very interesting stories and commentary -- maybe some boats will be rocked after all -- and a TV show on WHOI-TV at 8 a.m. on Sunday, where it will compete with Meet the Press. (Set your VCRs and DVRs).
No doubt this publication will continue to evolve. Gordon is a skilled editor. Stay tuned.
-- Elaine Hopkins