'Arizona Highways' fallen on hard times

Discussion in 'News' started by jacob_brown, Jul 3, 2007.

  1. 'Arizona Highways,' which infamously and oddly has had a film-only rule for
    photography running in its magazine, is having a hard time surviving.

    The 82-year-old publication's circulation has dropped an average of 10% annually
    during the past four years. (More than half of the subscribers are 65 or older.)
    "I believe that, without a change in strategy, the magazine will be dead in five
    to seven years," says Peter Aleshire, who was recently replaced as editor.

    More here:

  2. Get with the times or die.

    Don`t blame them for not wanting small files, but thay can specify requirements just like some specified 2 1/4 sq minimum years back.

    Hope they gave the editor a nice Cannon D5 for a retirement gift.
  3. An anachronistic "state-owned" boutique publication that "operates at a deficit" with a dwindling readership- sounds like a perfect candidate for an NEH grant.
  4. How do we know the magazine's financial/subscription situation is due to its large format film-only policy? Is it because everyone has turned digital and the megazine is not getting any acceptable quality input anymore? Or is it other things, like the writing, the changing readership?
  5. I think the problems Arizona Highways is having is a combination of everything mentioned. In this day and age of digital photography and high resolution film scanning the requirement of 4x5 transparencies for publication is alienating many of us you would love to submit to the magazine. It is killing their image pool and thusly they are not exposing themselves to new readers. When you have your work published you buy the magazine, proably even a subscribion, and get everyone you know to read the magazine.

    This is also a problem for article submissions, as many writers will include images with it as a package. Many wonderful writers either don't shoot large format or can't find a photographer that shoots only large format and doesn't have the film scanned and do the darkroom work in Photoshop. Thusly, the writing pool is also smaller which leads to less interesting articles and subscribers that find other ways to spend their money.

    When the next generation of readers/photographers/writers don't know you even exist its difficult to publish, run workshops and survive.

    Ed Mendes
  6. ....the requirement of 4x5 transparencies for publication is alienating many of us you
    Then convert your digital file to 4x5 film and send it to them, that is what a professional photographer would do if he shoots digital and wanted to show in Arizona Highways.
  7. Mr. Wang, who claimed that the magazine's woes are DUE "to its large format film-only policy?" No one said that.

    However, the magazine's silly film-only policy is apparently indicative of other poor decisions that have put the future of the magazine at risk. Indeed, if you read the comments to the article linked above, you will see many, many complaints about the stodgy, backwards nature of the magazine as being a problem. That stodginess extended all the way to the photo submissions policy.
  8. I adored that magazine as a teenager in the 1950's. The pictures were of such high quality! Did not know what large format was at that time, but of course it makes sense that they used it. Had no idea they were still in publication.
  9. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    I subscribed for quite a while up to maybe five years ago. I got a really terrible service when starting my subscription, waiting months for my first magazine and getting multiple renewal and "gift to friends" solicitations before I'd had a single copy. Furthermore I felt that the standard of photography and reproduction was by no means brilliant, despite the supposed pickiness of the selection process. Frankly I can see as good or better photographs of Arizona here or in any bookshop. But the main reason I stopped subscribing was that the articles and photography were just samey and I really felt they were struggling to make interesting content.

    Nobody likes to see an icon struggle, but frankly without making substantial changes to service levels and content this comes as little surprise. And you don't make improvements if you're smug. I don't much care about their selection policy for photography except insofar as one issues' photographs always seemed to me about the same as the next. I don't think their difficulties stem from selection policy- I think they stem from thinking that you are running a great and interesting magazine when you're not.
  10. I used to buy the magazine periodically at the local Barnes and Noble but it disappeared from the newsstand several years ago. I also bought copies of several other travel oriented magazines but they too have disappeared--pushed out by the overabundance of celebrity claptrap and other pieces of narcissistic BS publications. The decline in readership of Arizona Highways probably has more to do with the decline in the number of people who read in general than anything else. Now that I know it's still around, I think I'll go to its website and subscribe.
  11. They need some photos of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan partying. And those are hard to get using 4x5 film
  12. I remember writing to them and getting an answer on the "film only" requirements. I found it to be technically nonsensical, showing that the management at the magazine had hung its hat on some kind of urban legend. I used to enjoy the magazine, but can't remember buying a recent copy. One reason? Most of its images are of the over-saturated "radioactive" type, giving untold Americans and Foreigners the impression that all of Arizona is Fluorescent and on a permanent sunset-glowing doo-dah LSD trip of some kind with Timothy Leary. (Cactus picture 1,500,000.01) In the past, I remember it doing some great historic articles accompanied by photographs that did not contain canyons and cacti all of the time. The magazine is hung up on itself. Perhaps our current governor "Super-Janet" can kick some of the cobwebs out.
  13. But isn't this a reflection of a more fundamental issue....newspapers are also experiencing a declining readership. More and more young people get their information, whether video, audio, news, by way of the Web. I suspect a declining readership base has nothing to do with their film policy.
  14. Were it not for "Arizona Highways", I would not have seen the staircase once trod by Pancho Villa on his horse. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 articles in AH are on this level. Few are adventure oriented, most are simply places you can drive or 4-wheel to. Walking is a no-no. You might cross private property (most of Arizona and nearly all of Oak Creek Canyon) or be mistaken for an immigrant.

    I've subscribed or received gift subscriptions on and off for nearly 20 years. I can't say I've been interested enough to completely read more than an half-dozen articles in that time. The pictures are great, but often unrelated to content. It is, by charter, a shill for tourism.
  15. "Walking is a no-no."

    "Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn't photogenic." -Edward Weston
  16. Sorry Eric, the quote was from Edward's son Brett Weston.
  17. Doh! -Eric Friedemann quoting Homer Simpson
  18. "They need some photos of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan partying. And those are hard to get using 4x5 film"

    Nope. You just wait till they are passed out or OD'd
  19. The readership is dying off, thus so wil the publication.<p>Its demise has nothing at all to do with film Vs. digital.
  20. Ed, that presumes that a magazine is born with a specific readership which sticks with a magazine until the reads die. This is of course false. Magazines must constantly keep themselves relevant, and the previous editor of AH clearly was stuck in a mindset which hurt the magazine.
  21. When you have your work published you buy the magazine, proably even a subscribion, and get everyone you know to read the magazine.
    Not really. You request a free copy and tear sheets from the magazine. In general working photographers don't have enough time to read all the publications that use their images :)
  22. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    In general working photographers don't have enough time to read all the publications that use their images
    Not only that, I don't necessarily have any interest in reading the magazines that use my images, at least so far. When Tattoo Magazine runs my photos (I have enough, they really should), I will subscribe.
  23. Wow. Lots of folks trying to guess why Arizona Highways is going down the crapper. Many points are right on, even more way off--and the most salient ones not even discussed. And I know--I published in this magazine a lot and went to all the annual conferences, etc., for years.

    Here are a few of the problems "outsiders" do not know about.....

    1. The magazine is "writer-driven". There is an editor for the writing dept, and one for the photo dept. The photos are selected to illustrate some portion of a story, instead of the best photos being selected. Portfolios are an exception, of course. Even though nearly everyone gets the magazine just to look at the photos, the power is on the side of the writers. Which seems kind of backwards to me--and creates lots of hard feelings on the other side. And don't try to both write and photograph--the editors don't believe writers can take photos and vice versa. So much of the best work possible is prohibited right off the bat (wonderful first person accounts).

    2. It is a "club". And within this club is a micro-club of alike photographers who get most of the assignments. It really doesn't matter if you are good or not--and it doesnt matter if you use 4x5 either, though they give that a lot of lip service. Many images and covers are shot with medium format gear. It just matters if you are liked. So you don't exactly get a lot of the new, edgy, adventurous stuff like is desperately needed.

    3. The photo editor has been there a long time. So the club is older, not too edgy, maybe not even able to hike far....Being at the conferences felt more like attending an old-folks home than anything else.

    4. The photo editor considers himself a pro--and publishes his own photos in the magazine.....leading to serious questions on ethics, quality, fairness, etc.

    5. Incredibly unique stories on Wilderness Areas without any public access, for instance, are turned down. Reason given: because the tourists can't go there and see what was photographed. Apparently, such stories are not "boring" enough....

    Film vs digital has nothing to do with this magazines probable demise. The reasons lie with control issues, seniority, and favortism. The only solution is for someone in state government to clean out this sinking ship and replace ALL of the editors with those younger and more openminded and dedicated to the best work and not who is best liked. And while you're at it--allow a photographic magazine to be run by photographers, not writers.
  24. Here is a link to the photo FAQ. It seems as though they are trying to make progress in some areas. Paul
  25. Isn't it more likely that the 4x5 film thing is keeping circulation *up* rather than pushing it down?

    Absent the pictures, there's little reason to get the magazine. If they loosen the standards, odds are the LF enthusiasts who buy the magazine, and otherwise care little about Arizona, will drop out.
  26. My experience with them reflects what Guy has said, especially #2, it's a club. Elitism, arrogance and cronyism are not good for any business.
  27. Could be, too, lots more competition from other travel mags. Easily four or five times the number than when I first ran across AZ Hwys years ago
  28. I will second what Guy has said in my experience with them in the early 90's.

    I think it is funny though that on good ol photo.nut the premise of film versus digital
    submissions would grace the initial paragraphs.

    When a photo editor looks at a 4x5 or 120 landscape, there is generally no guessing if it
    was faked out in photoshop or not.I like that and while I would like to see most things
    change, I think I would like this film only rule to stay..

    And I shoot plenty of digital by the way...
  29. "Isn't it more likely that the 4x5 film thing is keeping circulation *up* rather than pushing it down?"

    Unlikely. Management problems -- including restricting for parochial reasons the types of photographs and photographers who get in the magazine -- have hurt the magazine and its ability to keep and gain readers.
  30. There is no easy answer to this, unfortunately, but Jacob makes an important point: restricting things to film and formats larger than 35mm undoubtedly eliminates many of the newer generation of incredible photographers who are more apt also to shoot more adventurous stuff--which the magazine needs to return to some semblence of life.

    However, many tourists view the magazine and then go to those spots to see what they've seen. If they go to Red Rock Crossing and see no trees where there were trees before or vice versa....well, that just doesn't work. To a large extent, film eliminates these types of situations and lends to accurate portrayals. And this is vital to a travel magazine.

    Which is going to be? I think to survive the current staff will have to be tossed and replaced with younger and less connected editors and that digital submissions must be allowed--in order to get the on-the-edge stuff they need. But with a stern warning to photographers that no manipulation such as removing subject matter etc may be done--and that if it is, they will never be published there again.
  31. PS: And new editorial blood will also help ensure that exellence of work will be judged--instead of who brought the biggest steak to the barbecue......
  32. All traditional publications are in dire financial straits, for a variety of reasons. As a longtime
    journalist, I agree with those who note that editorial restrictions on contributors (film
    formats, etc.) have little enough impact on a publication's viability. Likewise, opening up the
    editorial guidelines won't save a doomed balance sheet. Production costs for all publications
    have soared astronomically over the last 20 years; and the recent publication postal rate
    changes, brutally rammed through Congress by the Time-Warner megalopoly (which stands
    to benefit from those changes), will mean that ALL niche publications will see their costs
    jump up well past their ability to sustain themselves. Mr Ayleshire's estimate of five to seven
    years may be too generous.
  33. jtk


    It's absurd to blame the magazine's historically high photographic standards for its demise.

    If you want to see hideous digital flash, look at the current Sierra Magazine, or Sunset. Those were once beautiful magazines, worthy of a coffee table. Now they're visual crap. Sierra in particular features whacked-out Photoshop lies, just like a cheap travel guide might.

    Magazines fail due to lack of sufficiently expensive advertisers. That's Arizona Highway's main problem. The secondary problem is the state's central position in the immigration wars (Klan-stoked racial fears on the one hand, blind unconcern on the other). Tourism's down in AZ, substantially for that reason. As well, Navajo people have gotten tired of being used as tourist bait by businesses that actually hate them.

    One of the most beautiful places in the US has been Organ Pipe National Monument. Now it's described most commonly as a trashed immigration war zone.
  34. "It's absurd to blame the magazine's historically high photographic standards for its demise."

    It is perfectly reasonable to blame poor management decisions, including the foolish prejudice against digital photography, as additive factors.
  35. you gotta be kidding me. how many tourists go to Organ Pipe? And how many go to the Grand Canyon? Big immigrant problem in GCNP, is there?
  36. Andy, I think I understand why, "no one goes there anymore because it is too crowded."
    John, I am surprised to find out that tourism is down. Maybe it is because everyone moved
    there, so they don't need to visit. Arizona's population is now over 6 million, an increase
    of over a million since 2000. I remember as a kid (I lived there) seeing the suburbs
    virtually rolling across the farm lands.

    I also remember seeing copies of Arizona Highways as a kid and thinking the the photos
    were wonderful. I picked up a copy a couple of years ago and I was disappointed with the
    images. I wonder if the quality changed or did my expectations change. I don't know.
  37. By Donna Hogan, Tribune
    East Valley Tribune
    Updated: 11:35 a.m. MT July 12, 2007

    An impressive 33.7 million travelers spent at least one night in Arizona hotels in 2006, nearly 9 percent more than in 2005, said Margie Emmermann, executive director of Arizona Office of Tourism. And they left $18.6 billion behind, $2.6 billion of it in state and local tax coffers, a 6 percent boost from the previous year.

    That's according to the annual state of the state's tourism report that Emmermann released today during the Governor's Conference on Tourism, a two-day get-together of industry leaders at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix.

    Most 2006 tourists to Arizona - 31.7 million - were from the United States. International tourists came both to Arizona and the rest of the country at about the same rate as the year before, Emmermann said.

    Except for Canadians. Swayed by a favorable exchange rate, more air travel options and aggressive ad campaigns, U.S. northern neighbors boosted overnight stays in Arizona hotels by more than 17 percent last year, she said.

    Nearly 500,000 Canadians visited Arizona in 2006 - and that doesn't include winter visitors who settle in for several months - and they spent more than $473 million.

    But the largest increase in 2006 travel to and through the state was among Arizona residents, according to the report. Local folks spent 22.3 percent more nights in Arizona hotels than they did the year before.

    "We are our own biggest market," said AnnDee Johnson, Arizona Office of Tourism research and strategic planning director.

    More good news: Visitors to Arizona have higher household incomes than the typical U.S. traveler, Johnson said. For 2006, 26 percent of the Arizona visitors annually earned $100,000 or more, compared with 20 percent for the national average reporting higher income levels.

    And they are getting younger, Emmermann said. That's key to keeping new generations enamored with the state, and has been a key promotion initiative, she said.

    The average age for Arizona non-resident visitors - 47 - is down a year from 2005, but still higher than the national average of 45.

    Despite sagging consumer confidence and high fuel prices, Arizona's tourism industry is healthy and expected to stay that way for the foreseeable future, Emmermann said.

    But she expects the soaring 9 percent growth rate to slow a little, as consumer confidence level catches up.
  38. only 9 percent growth, must be the mexicans

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