When we announced last month that our company had been acquired by Oregon-based Sagacity Media, we were flooded with congratulations—and questions. Founded in 2003, Sagacity started by launching Portland Monthly, which in 2005 won a gold award for general excellence from the City and Regional Magazine Association. Today the company also publishes award-winning magazines in Seattle, Houston, Vail, Aspen and Park City, along with custom tourism and travel magazines. “Sagacity is only interested in acquiring the most successful and dominant titles in a market,” said CEO Nicole Vogel in announcing the acquisition. “Sarasota Magazine certainly fits that profile.” In a further vote of confidence, Sagacity kept our entire creative and sales team in place—and even boosted some salaries that were below its pay levels.
Obviously, congratulations were in order. But then came the questions. Or maybe I should say—The Question. We heard it wherever we went. “This sounds like a great move for the magazine,” people would say. But then, looking anxious, they’d add: “But nothing’s going to change, is it?”
I can’t lie; it felt great to have so many friends and supporters tell us they love Sarasota Magazine just the way it is. It’s clear they believe this is their magazine, too, the voice and reflection of the city they love. And that won’t change at all. Like all of Sagacity’s magazines, we will continue to stay fiercely local, 100-percent focused on telling the stories of our beautiful—and unique—city. But no, guys—we won’t stay exactly the same. And that’s great news for us and for you.
Exceptional journalism is the heart of Sagacity’s success, and they’re already helping us expand and deepen our reporting, whether we’re covering new restaurants or investigating issues critical to our community’s character. You’ll see more in-depth stories, like Cooper Levey-Baker’s piece this month on Anna Maria Island’s struggle to retain its charm in the face of so much growth. (Levey-Baker, a former editor of Creative Loafing and the Florida Independent, came aboard the day we joined Sagacity, and will play a key role in expanding our coverage of news and issues.)
Most of all, you’ll see an explosion in the amount and quality of our digital content. We know you want to be able to access that content whenever you want to, using whatever device you choose. We’ve been working on that, but our small company couldn’t make the enormous investment it takes to achieve digital excellence today.
But Sagacity has already made that investment. They decided some time ago that the future of media lies in reaching readers not only in print but through beautifully engineered, content-rich digital platforms. Their websites, newsletters and other digital initiatives are the envy of the industry—and now we’ll be bringing those innovative products to you. (Our new website goes live this month.)
On the first day of the transition, 12 of Sagacity’s top people from all over the country flew in to meet us. We were excited, of course—but nervous, too. Could our small-town staff hold its own against these seriously big-league players? But over the next few days, we realized we’d met a crew of kindred spirits—accomplished yet down-to-earth people who are as crazily obsessed with this all-consuming profession as we are. And though we had much to learn from them, we saw we brought some things to the table, too—not the least of them our city.
At a staff party at sunset on Turtle Beach, we chatted as we drank Pacific Northwest wines and ate Gulf shrimp and oysters. It was one of those rare evenings when the Gulf is completely calm, a still, shimmering mirror reflecting every shade of pink and lavender in the sky. As the glowing sun melted into that liquid landscape, our visitors drifted towards the water’s edge and grew quiet. “This is incredible,” said one. “What an amazing place,” breathed another.
We looked at each other and smiled. “Just another night in Sarasota,” someone said.
Help us choose the best of 2016. It’s time to weigh in on the best of our beautiful city, from dining and shopping to arts, entertainment and more. Please vote for your favorites online by Jan. 15 by clicking here; you’ll also be entered in a drawing to win two tickets to our Best of Sarasota Party on April 19 at Selby Gardens.