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November 2011 Trail Head

Posted in Features on November 1, 2011
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There’s no denying the fact that within our company a lot of sticky brown stuff just hit the fan. The trick is being on the right side of the fan when it happens. Regardless of the reasons, every now and then within the publishing jungle the magazine tree gets shaken up. Some of the monkeys hold fast, some fall from the canopy, and some clamber a bit higher up the branches. Yup, I’m now the Editor of Jp magazine. Gonna miss Cappa? Add on a subscription to Four Wheeler. That magazine is about to get a whole lot better.

Thanks to Internet forums and social-media websites, most of you already knew this. What you didn’t and don’t know is how these changes will affect the direction of your beloved Jp. Will I put a choke collar on Pete Trasborg and give it a yank every time he pitches me a story involving complicated electronics or tirelessly compares 24 different suspensions on the same vehicle? Will I let new-transplant Robin Stover run wild and naked in the streets, rubbing portal axle parts and jewel-encrusted bypass shocks over his body? Or will I indulge my vintage Jeep fetish and turn a blind eye to any vehicle made after 1975? Well, much of Jp’s success in the past decade has stemmed from the differing interests of each staff member. It would be a pretty boring magazine if it was produced by three guys who all thought and wrote the same way. It’s the editor’s job to carefully weigh each staffer’s input to create a balanced, cohesive product that delivers something for every reader and doesn’t alienate or exclude any—and we have the three staffing tools (pun intended) to accomplish this.

As far as changes down the road, I’ve got both the blessing and curse of inheriting a rather successful magazine. It’s a blessing because Jp is pretty turn-key and established. We’ve carved our niche in the marketplace as one of the best sources of real-world, down-and-dirty tech and entertaining, informative event, and feature coverage on the newsstands. Hell, guys who don’t even own Jeeps buy Jp. I don’t really have to go swinging the demo hammer and knocking down walls.

On the other hand, every editor wants to make his own mark. You’ll notice a few subtle changes over the coming issues, but if New Coke taught us anything, it’s how dangerous completely changing a winning formula can be. Cappa and I usually saw eye-to-eye on most things at Jp. We’re not exactly peas in a pod, but are two obnoxious leisure suits cut from the same cloth. I’ve got some big shoes to fill, but my reign of terror has begun and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. In my mind, Jp enjoys an unparalleled credibility that resonates with our readers. Much of that credibility stems not only from what we do, but what we don’t do. To that end:

• You’ll never see a $100,000 magazine-built project vehicle in these pages as long as I’m editor. This isn’t Spinal Tap and not every project has to go to 11.

• I don’t really care about stickered-up, corporate-built industry vehicles. We appreciate our advertisers, but this is a reader-driven magazine and we’ll continue to cover real-world, reader-built Jeeps.

• I’m not that into high-dollar runs in which only the supposed elite members of the wheeling community are invited. I’d rather go hang with a fun wheeling club or off-roading group.

• I don’t like buggies. There are other magazines and websites that cater to them. We do Jeeps here, and we do it well.

• Rockcrawl events are boring, although I like the tech that trickles over from the sport. Perhaps if they started using full-bodied vehicles it would be more relevant and I’d change my tune, but we haven’t really seen that since the early 2000s. We wheel because it’s fun, not for prize money or a trophy.

• This is a labor of love for us. We’re not here to show how hardcore or bad-ass we are. If that’s what you’re after, go watch reruns of Monster Garage. We build and wheel real-world Jeeps ‘cause it’s fun and what we love to do.

• Form follows function. Patina trumps glossy lacquer.

• To me, vintage Jeep road and trail trips are the coolest thing ever and one of my favorite things to write and read about. Expect more.

• Magazine events and product testing don’t have to follow any conventional mold. We’ll strive to make every story you read informative, relevant, and above all entertaining.

• Tech coverage needs to be real-world and address the things you care about. Whenever possible we’ll run a sidebar with part numbers and prices at press time. The junk we write about has to have a real benefit to you, the reader, or we won’t waste the ink on it

• This is your magazine, and we are one of you.

Shortly after coming to Jp, Stover was reading the Mailbag letters and made the following observation: “Sheesh, Jp’s reader letters contain so much more passion than Four Wheeler’s.” It’s true: Jp readers give a sh!%. Don’t worry. We do, too.

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