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Home:  >News & Events   >News Archives   >2002
Oxford American magazine looking at move to Arkansas to stay alive

July 23, 2002

By Emery Carrington

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the July 22, 2002, edition of The Daily Mississippian.

OXFORD, Miss. — Hope for revival of a local magazine that has experienced months of uncertainty is still alive, even if it means moving more than 200 miles away from its home.

The Oxford American faces a possible move to Little Rock under new management. Editor Marc Smirnoff said he hopes for a revival of the “Southern Magazine of Good Writing.”

In ads posted on mediabistro.com, The Oxford American seeks a new associate editor, publisher/business manager and art director in Little Rock. Smirnoff said no deal has been finalized and papers have not been signed, but he left for Little Rock on Saturday, July 20, hoping the change will be final by the end of this week.

“We are hopeful that we are on the verge of getting new ownership,” Smirnoff said. “We hope that’s where it will be. I want to emphasize that it’s not a done deal. Everyone very much wants this to happen and I like everything I've heard about it.”

Even with the move, Smirnoff said he expects The Oxford American people have come to know over the past 10 years will remain true to its readership.

“If I thought anyone wanted me to ruin what I thought was good, I wouldn’t do it,” Smirnoff said. “I think this new group believes that the problem with The OA isn't the content — not to say we won’t make mistakes or flaws — but the weakest part is the lack of a first-rate business infrastructure.”

Smirnoff maintains that John Grisham, high-profile author and The Oxford American publisher, will still be indirectly involved. He said he does not pass any of the blame of the financial downfalls to Grisham.

“John has always been involved very distantly,” Smirnoff said. “He has had overwhelming faith in this project that amazes even me.”

Smirnoff said Grisham did not hesitate to support the magazine financially in the beginning, but it took much convincing on his part to name Grisham as the figurehead publisher because he wanted his support to remain anonymous.

Although Smirnoff plans to take Grisham’s title of publisher away, he said he is sure the author will be happy with the decision and remain involved.

With all the changes and with the Little Rock group as the only option for the magazine’s future at this point, Smirnoff said he has no reason to believe that the deal will not proceed as planned and the new owners make him feel very comfortable.

“They had questions in ways that showed me they were being thoughtful and liked the magazine as is,” Smirnoff said. “One new owner said they wanted to challenge me in new ways and that’s exactly what I need. There have been times in my career where I haven’t been challenged, and I relish the idea of hooking up with people who want to be bold.”

One of Smirnoff’s plans of being bold involves expanding the readership of the publication.

“I know that there are more good readers who are out there who would enjoy the magazine,” Smirnoff said. “The worst thing as editor is putting out a publication that you are proud of and it doesn’t get the readership it deserves.”

As for the current readers, Smirnoff said he believes they will remain constant patrons of the magazine.

“We’ve got great readers,” Smirnoff said. “That seems to be in their nature. My goal as editor is to connect with the audience. They’ve supported the magazine in the past with their comments and concerns and I think they’ll be glad that the magazine isn't dying.”


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