Maryland Life magazine to cease publication

Maryland Life's June issue will be its last because of insufficient advertising sales, the publisher of the Frederick-based tourism magazine said Monday.

"The current economic environment required a level of sales that was difficult to achieve with our current resources," said Dan Patrell, president of publisher Great State Publishing LLC, in an announcement to the company's board.


On Monday, posted a farewell message to its readers, outlining challenges such as an evolving marketplace, still-recovering economy and significant expenses of print and postage.

"This is obviously a very sad decision," Patrell said in an interview Monday. "Whereas the magazine has been having some successes … we've also needed more sales. We had a good advertising base. Our challenge was we needed more salespeople to be out there."


He declined to elaborate other than to say insufficient sales made it difficult to pay bills and stay in business. The recession and slow recovery have been difficult for media companies in general, many of which have seen sharp declines in circulation and advertising revenue caused partly by online competition.

The bimonthly Maryland Life, which ran articles about places to see and things to do throughout Maryland, made its debut in January 2005 and grew to a circulation of 55,000 to 60,000 per issue, Patrell said. The magazine had offered one-year subscriptions for $14.95, two years for $24.95 or three years for $30.95. Recent online articles included features on a bluegrass music festival in Cumberland, a stay at Cove Point Lighthouse in Lusby and the new Ocean City Center for the Arts.

Some magazine publishers that produce only one title have struggled because "in general, there's no way to balance costs and have economies of scale," said Patti Wolter, an associate professor in the magazine program at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Even some of the large magazine companies have had to cut back on titles or staff, she said.

And in general, magazine companies are finding themselves with fewer advertising pages, she said.

"Anybody with a media company right now is competing for ad dollars," Wolter said. "Companies that are doing the advertising are spreading their advertising dollars across a wider variety of places."

Great State Publishing was formed by Patrell and other investors to publish the magazine and website. The magazine had a staff of eight and relied on freelance writers and photographers. The advertising base had shifted from home building and sales in the magazine's early days to tourism, and included advertisers from every county.

Patrell, also the magazine's publisher, said he believed the publication in its eight years had a "tremendous impact on Maryland tourism. We were always focused. Our mission was always to encourage Marylanders … to explore and discover the state around us."

Patrell said he'd been planning to launch a digital version of the magazine for tablet users next month.


On Monday, he said he was focused on closing the magazine and hadn't thought about his next move.

"I'd love obviously to continue this in some form or another," he said.