Even before the recession hit, the publishing industry has always been a volatile one. Editors get fired and staffers go insane or simply crack under the pressure of constant deadlines and the creative process of giving birth to a magazine every month. Magazines come and go, and it wasn’t uncommon for whole companies to simply disappear and shut their doors as well. Others would be gobbled up in mergers or split up and sold off. I worked for three different companies without ever changing offices or the magazine I worked on. And this was in the span of only four years.
Anyone who has worked in it or been around it can tell you, the only constant in publishing is change. A month would be a pretty long time for there not to be news about a hiring, firing, layoff, a new magazine appearing and old magazine disappearing. As Alaskans say of their weather: Just wait a few minutes and you are bound to see changes.
Over its almost 10 years of existence, Dirt Sports has seen plenty of them. We started out under the corporate umbrella of Advanstar Communications as their very first consumer magazine. Once Advanstar figured out there weren’t millions of dollars to be made, the magazine was taken over by Jim Ryan under the much smaller Ryan Communications Group. After surviving by hook or by crook through a recession, we “went corporate” once again, being bought by Grind Media (a smaller division of Source Interlink Media). Recently, Dirt Sports moved out of Grind and into Source’s Truck Group.
As if that long list of change wasn’t enough, Dirt Sports has now been merged with Off-Road magazine, with this issue marking the kickoff of Dirt Sports + Off-Road. Long-time readers of Dirt Sports will notice a modified new logo and subscribers of Off-Road magazine might be wondering how this new magazine ended up in their mailboxes. While the magazine might be thought of as new, it is really more of a blending of Dirt Sports and Off-Road magazine.
Why blend the two? From a business perspective having two magazines that were somewhat closely aligned in content didn’t make much sense. Each competed for some of the same advertising base, which is never good for the bottom line. Having two magazines that also compete for some of the same readers is also not the best business sense.
While I could drone on about the business side of things, most of you are probably wondering what will change with the magazine. Since its beginning, Dirt Sports has dealt with mostly the upper end of the sport. While that is great to a point, there is also a whole level of reader who can’t afford a Trophy-Truck or Class 1 and simply wants to improve the performance of their vehicle or build something more affordable. Traditionally, Off-Road magazine had done more to cover this with lots of real-world tech articles and vehicle features.
The idea is to mix the high-end vehicles, features and profiles Dirt Sports is known for with the more reality-based aspects of Off-Road into one magazine. Its focus will be on off-road performance, so there won’t be articles about putting 40-inch tires on your Super Duty. And, while some of the tech will be more realistic, we are not going to cover how-to-build-a-prerunner for $50 articles either. The majority of the aspects that have made Dirt Sports so cool over the years will remain intact.
Basically, the mixture will result in a bigger magazine that will appeal to readers of both Off-Road magazine and Dirt Sports magazine. Getting that mix just right might take awhile, but the result should be a better magazine for all. Welcome to the new Dirt Sports + Off-Road.