THREE DECADES IN PRINT, WITH NO REASON TO STOP by Ellen Donker
Updated: Mar 9
Matters Magazine celebrates a milestone
2020 is a year of celebration for Matters Magazine: We have turned 30 years old. That’s a long time for a community lifestyle publication to be in business – old enough for it to be deemed a fixture in Maplewood and South Orange, so I’m told. I’m not sure when one crosses that threshold, but it’s a designation we take pride in.
I don’t take our longevity lightly. Keeping a print publication afloat in a digital world takes diligence, dedication and creativity to deliver value for advertisers and readers alike. And crafting the content for each issue takes work but it’s also something that unfolds naturally; we’re surrounded in this community by so many engaging stories.
Just the other day I assigned an article about a world-famous musician who lives locally, and my writer responded, “Wow, he lives in Maplewood/South Orange? I’d be delighted to do the article.” Such pieces are sure hits – who doesn’t like to read about the famous among us? – but we take just as much joy in covering lesser known subjects: seemingly ordinary people who have an interesting talent, places of significance that have been forgotten, residents who have worked through difficult circumstances and have learned to value their new normal. Each story connects us to our place in Maplewood and South Orange and reminds us that we belong to a remarkable community of people.
I’m grateful that these stories still matter to you, our readers, and that you continue to embrace the original purpose of the magazine: to deliver “good news” narratives that make us proud to live and work in these towns. Lord knows we need positivity and words that spur us to carry light into all corners of our collective world.
Recently I spoke with Karen Duncan, the founder of Matters Magazine, to chat about this 30-year milestone. She shared with me how the magazine grew out of her discovery over time that our towns contained an endless supply of interesting stories. She thought we’d all benefit from reading them, and she was right.
And while that is a story unto itself (stay tuned!), Karen and I concluded that the key to shaping this magazine is to be unfailingly curious, follow our instincts, and, perhaps, be good eavesdroppers.
Over the years, Matters has changed with the times. What started out in 1990 as a black-and-white newsletter called Maplewood Matters eventually included distribution to South Orange, a shift to printing in color, and a name change in 2001 to Matters Magazine. (You can always spot the old-timers among us who still call the magazine Maplewood Matters.)
Although we make the magazine available in a digital format and do our share of posting on social media, readers tell us that they like getting a print copy of Matters delivered to their doorstep and cherish setting aside time to relax and read it cover to cover. We couldn’t agree more.
Our gratitude extends to the entire community. Matters has employed many talented, creative and hard-working residents through the years: writers, editors, photographers, and salespeople. We’ve forged strong relationships with those who tell us their stories and with the many business owners who advertise. And our readers keep us on track with ideas and feedback.
As part of our celebration, we’re sharing on page 42 the comments that we’ve received from readers and advertisers. They flatter us, they validate our ethos, and they spur us to continue sharing what matters. And that is a journey well worth continuing.