Lisa Schlichtman, editor of "Connection" magazine, talked about the growth of the publication at this week's meeting of the Monett Kiwanis Club.
Schlichtman described how she and her husband, Mike, came to Monett as minority owners of The Monett Times in 2009 when Rust Communications purchased the newspaper. The Schlichtmans owned the Cassville Democrat for 10 years and remain minority owners following the sale of the newspaper to Rust.
Schlichtman is a graduate of the University of Missouri's School of Journalism. She said the newspaper industry has undergone major transitions in recent years, largely because of the introduction of the Internet. Newspapers are now rethinking how they do business, she said.
"Connection" is a free monthly magazine published in conjunction with The Times, using much of the same staff initially. Schlichtman introduced Veronica Zucca, the magazine's art director, with whom she works closely in developing the look of the publication.
When the assignment came in 2009 to create "Connection," Schlichtman said she consulted some former professors at the University of Missouri, who said it would take a minimum of one year to adequately launch such a publication. Schlichtman had six weeks to design and release the first issue and met the deadline.
"Connection" focuses on Barry and Lawrence counties and has been very well accepted by the public. The first issue in December 2009 had 44 pages. The latest July issue has 76 pages. Schlichtman would like to see the magazine grow to 84 pages by 2013.
"Connection" is distributed free of charge. Costs are covered by advertising. Schlichtman said generating more business for the advertisers has been key to the magazine's success. Those who have communicated with her say the ads are working.
The name of the magazine was Mike Schlichtman's idea, offering a way to connect people with their community. Articles offer topics and stories that appeal to all people. There are photo features on cute children, cute pets and people attending local events that have universal interest.
The press run for "Connection" is presently around 5,200 copies that are distributed in Barry and Lawrence counties. Schlichtman would like to grow the number to 6,000.
The Monett Times office is becoming a hub for producing other magazines for Rust Publications. Magazines for other communities will be packaged in Monett under Schlichtman's editorial direction and Zucca's design. Schlichtman has recruited additional freelance writers and photographers to work on "Connection," expanding the number of contributors to the creative process.
Schlichtman planned to expand the number of local magazines produced iout of the Monett office this year. The first will be a high school gridiron guide that will be published this August. In addition, there are plans to potentially develop a home and garden publication and an outdoors magazine.
Shifting Schlichtman to working primarily on magazines has brought changes at The Times. Lisa Craft is now the managing editor, overseeing daily production. Schlichtman continues to serve as editor with occasional stories and editorial guidance.
Monett remains one of the few communities in Missouri of its size to have a daily newspaper, Schlichtman said. Since coming to The Times, Schlichtman said she has grown to dearly love Monett, especially the caring and progressive nature of the community.
Kiwanis president Eric Kean presided at the meeting. Program chairman Brad Hanson introduced Schlichtman.
Also speaking was Andrew Brown, who attended the 73rd annual Boys State program, sponsored by the American Legion. Brown said 1,000 boys attended the model government event, and he learned a great deal attending its sessions. He thanked the club for enabling him to attend.
The Monett Kiwanis Club meets at noon on Tuesdays for a meal and a program, usually at Happy House restaurant.