'Positive' magazine for black family to premiere Baltimore Sun subsidiary to produce free monthly

March 12, 1997|By James Bock | James Bock,SUN STAFF

A free, monthly magazine aimed at black families will appear at supermarkets, libraries and churches in May, publisher Rudy Miller said yesterday.

The magazine, with the working title Jubilee: Celebrating African-American Families, is to be published by Alliance Media Inc., a subsidiary of The Baltimore Sun Co. Alliance also publishes Maryland Family and Fifty Plus magazines.

Miller, Alliance publisher and WMAR-TV morning news anchor, said she would soon hire a black editor for the magazine. Free-lance writers, photographers and artists are expected to provide most editorial content. The initial press run is to be 30,000 copies.

"It will be done by African-Americans. I will simply publish it," Miller said.

The publisher said the magazine would feature stories and calendar listings on being a parent and education. She said a mock-up included a story entitled "Is God Black?" on explaining to children why God is often depicted as a white man.

She said the magazine would stress positive aspects of black families.

"There's nothing like this," she said. "I spend a lot of time sitting behind the news desk on TV reporting all the bad things that go on in the African-American community. I think it's time we put something good out."

The Baltimore Times, a black-owned weekly newspaper, produced a monthly supplement, Family Times, for a year ending last April, but it died for lack of advertising support, said publisher Joy Bramble.

"I think personally there's a need for something like this," Bramble said. "But I would be kind of angry if the community supported Rudy Miller's paper instead of our [supplement].

"Black readers will know who owns it, but it probably will get support if it's nicely done. If she can do it and do it well, more power to her because it's what the market is going to bear. But that doesn't mean I won't be angry."

Miller said if black publishers like the Baltimore Times and the Baltimore Afro-American already had a family magazine, she wouldn't have entered the market.

"Not only would it not make good business sense, it would not make good moral sense," Miller said. "They're not doing it, though. I don't see any downside to it as long as I don't write it."

The Baltimore metropolitan area had a black population of 615,000 in 1990, including about 76,000 families with children, census figures show. About 35,000 black households had incomes of $50,000 or more.

Miller presented her plans to a recent meeting of the Association of Black Media Workers. Chapter president Terry Owens, a WMAR-TV reporter, said 10 to 12 people expressed interest in doing work for the magazine.

"A magazine that highlights positive things going on in the African-American community would be well received in this market," Owens said. "Many of our more than 120 members do free-lance work and would welcome another revenue source."

Rodney A. Orange, president of the Baltimore NAACP, said he did not think "there would be any concern that it is coming from a white publishing company if in fact there are blacks on staff that have overall responsibility for the project."

Miller said the magazine would be modeled after Black Family Today, a prize-winning Florida bimonthly published by a subsidiary of the company that owns the Orlando Sentinel. The magazine was created by a black-owned advertising agency and a white-owned publishing company. Sentinel Communications Co. bought it a month after it appeared in mid-1995.

Like the Florida publication, Miller said, the magazine would be supported largely by "sponsors," companies that would pay an annual fee entitling them to advertising space and other benefits.

"We'll go after people who are fairly entrenched in the African-American community and want to solidify their position, and those who need to be there and want to show that by sponsoring a good-news publication," Miller said.

Pub Date: 3/12/97

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