EU and Urban Jacksonville Blog interview
[transcribed by Rachel Henley]
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY) is Joey Marchy. He is the founder and writer of the Urban Jacksonville blog (www.urbanjacksonville.info). He is 29 years old and a resident of Springfield and has been blogging on Urban Jacksonville for a little over a year and a half now.
EU (RACHEL) is Rachel Best Henley. She is the Creative Director for Entertaining U Newspaper (also known as EU Jacksonville). She is 23 years old and has been working for EU for going on eight years. She also has a blog at rachelbestblogs.blogspot.com.
EU (JON) is Jon Bosworth. He is the Managing Editor and Marketing Director of EU. He is 31 years old and has been working with EU since November 2006. He also has a blog at jaxvillain.blogspot.com.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): You guys have done a really good job in the art direction and the redesign. When did you guys change direction? Because there was a time when I wouldn't have touched [EU] with a ten foot pole.
EU (RACHEL): Right. Well it used to be the First Coast Entertainer. It was a tall tabloid and it was owned by Tony Trotti (the previous owner) and my father, Will Henley, was the associate publisher.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): [Will Henley] is your dad? So it's you, your dad and your sister? Or is that your mom?
EU (RACHEL): My mom. My sister will occasionally write for us too, she's still in high school, and she kind of hates the business. [laughs]
EU (JON): But does she does great record reviews! High schoolers, they are perfect for doing [album reviews].
EU (RACHEL): My mom just came on board and she takes care of business and does accounting… those kind of things. But my father had been the associate publisher for the First Coast Entertainer for, I want to say, about ten years. And then Tony [Trotti] got sick with cancer and passed away. When he passed away he had given us blessings to carry on the paper, and we underwent a new name. We kept mostly the same staff (but over the time [the staff] has mostly changed). We changed the name [from The First Coast Entertainer to Entertaining U]. It was a different format (Entertaining U), a tall tabloid, for a while and then we finally decided to go to the tabloid format [that it is now] and that's when we did the whole re-design.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): What is 'tabloid format'? Is that the size?
EU (RACHEL): A tall tabloid is taller and it folds in half.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): Like Folio?
EU (RACHEL): No, [Folio] is tabloid size too. The Times-Union, I guess you could say, is a "very-tall" tabloid. I don't really know their exact measurements. But our [old format] folded in half, whereas [our format now] is more of a "magazine style." We decided [the magazine style tabloid] was more user-friendly. And [we] were just trying to keep up with the trends in design. Actually, we were thinking about reformatting it and made the decision within a week to completely reformat the whole paper. And [it became] what it is. We decided to change the logo for branding purposes and so [people] could recognize it better.
EU (JON): And, you know, some other changes that Rachel and Will decided to do was... it used to be that the cover was sold where people would advertise on it. And now Rachel and Will have changed the direction where now not every inch of [EU] is for sale. And the articles are no longer just press releases. Now there are writers on staff. We have actual editorial.
EU (RACHEL): Well we've always had editorial, always. We do sometimes run press releases when people send us things for their events. But when we re-formatted [EU] I, for a long time, wanted to push the ads off of the cover. Actually for a while, before [the major re-design] and [when we still had a tall tabloid], turned the cover around so that way when it folded over you saw the cover on [one-side of the front page] and then the bottom was [on the back of the fold] is where the ad went.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): So [EU] used to have ads on the cover?
EU (RACHEL): Right. And it was a very conscious decision to [change that]. See, when it was the First Coast Entertainer (the first paper), Tony Trotti's idea of a publication was much different than our idea of a publication. Because we stayed with the same company, this was a gradual change but this was a long-time goal to [get EU where it is today]. We couldn't just [change EU] like night and day when we still had certain advertisers that were committed to certain spaces. This was a vision that was building. Ultimately, when I re-designed the paper I wanted to make sure there was a difference between the editorial and there was a difference between the ads. My biggest concern with our paper (and our website) is that everything is easy to navigate, you know where everything is, you know where you are looking, you don't have to question 'Is this an ad? Or is this editorial?' To me (I say this a lot), when I look at other publications (especially newsprint) it looks like text has thrown up on the page. And I'm like 'I don't know where to look. There are these ugly ads all over the place. There's editorial where you can't even tell one story from another.' When I design the pages that's a big issue to me. I want to make sure you know where to look for the calendar listings, you know where to look for the meat of the story (the who, where, what and when), and then you can read on if you want to delve into the story.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): Yeah, I like the way you guys did the music calendar, you put in on the rails of the paper.
EU (RACHEL): Right. I want people, every week when they pick up the paper, to know what they are looking for and they can flip right to that section. If the music is all right there, then they know where to find the music, the concert calendar, they know that the music-related club ads are probably going to be around there. They can see [at one glance] what is going on. If they decide to look at the theatre pages they can see what's going on there. And that is a big deal to me and I always try to make sure that [ads] are in the same placement so people know where to find it. And also we don't want the ads to just be totally lost. We want our advertisers to know when you advertise in our paper, your ad is going to be seen; it's not going to get buried in a bunch of other advertisements. Your ad is going to get seen, the editorial is going to be read, and there's a constant separation of the two.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): What typeface are you using for the headlines?
EU (RACHEL): It's Helvetica. It's just your regular standard [font].
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): Well it looks really good.
EU (RACHEL): [Thank you.] Its actually a bold condensed [Helvetica]. I think it's kind of funny because if you notice on [Times-Union] Weekend and the Folio and [EU] you'll often see that we all have the exact same font on the cover. Which is something that Folio changed, not too long ago...
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): After…
EU (RACHEL): Yeah, after we did our re-design. And sometimes the Times-Union [Weekend] changes it up, it's not always the same. [Helvetica] is the most easy to read font there is. And people sometimes were like 'You went to a SANS-serif font for your body type?' They were like 'How could you do that?' And I'm like 'Because I wanted to! I think that's what looks good!' Simplicity is the basic goal.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): Well, sans serif is definitely more modern than serif fonts...
EU (RACHEL): [Yeah, but] I don't dislike serif fonts at all.
EU (JON): Can I ask [Rachel] a question for your [Urban Jacksonville's] interview? Can I ask her a question for your interview?
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): Sure.
EU (RACHEL): Sure.
EU (JON): What made you bring me on? I know it was kind of your [Rachel's] idea.
EU (RACHEL): You [Jon] have the background in the movie industry, you have experience in owning a business (downtown)... Which [the movies] are a big part of our business. I mean we have always been [the "movie paper"]. If you're looking for a movie or a movie promotion… we are the paper to go to if you want to find out something about movies. And it's been that way for a long time; that's one of our flags that we've carried for a while that we are proud of... But [back to Jon's question]… having the background in movies, having the background in the music community, owning a business, and you just "get" Jacksonville. We've worked with so many people that just don't "get it,"... they don't understand the full perspective of Jacksonville. You have to live here for a while to understand what Jacksonville has to offer. I would say the bottom line is you could see the full perspective of the angle where we are coming from and that is why we hired Jon.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): Do you guys have a target audience?
EU (RACHEL): Well, you know...
EU (JON): We disagree on this.
EU (RACHEL): [laughs] Well, I think our target audience is very wide.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): Yeah, you want to entail the largest amount of people possible.
EU (RACHEL): Right. I would say that our long-term readers, people that have been reading us since First Coast Entertainer days, are interested in us because of our movie promotions. And a bunch of those readers are 60 plus, and they are dedicated, loyal readers to [EU].
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): So you don't want to offend those readers with your redesign, but you don't want to look [too] young?
EU (RACHEL): Right. Well, you know, that's another thing, having a young edge was very important to me because I want my friends to be interested in the publication and that is what I found important. And [young people] are the consumers today. When you are pitching [EU] to an advertiser you want your consumers to know that their audience is reading it. Also, one thing that we try to have in our paper every week (well, that we DO have in our paper every week) is that you can always find something in our paper that you can do with your child and your family. We do not neglect the fact that someone who has a family at home is going to be looking for entertainment too. You will always find something that you can take your kid out to do that weekend... I am very adamant about having that in [EU] every week. We also cover cover bands that tend to cater to the 'baby-boomer' demographic. I think that we cover a wide-range. You know, another loyal audience that we have always had is the theatre community. We are one of the only publications that consistently do theatre reviews. People may not know how big that community is, but they are there, and nobody else sheds light on that community at all. It's important to us to be in with the arts, the theatre, and the movies and the music... and even video games! I am a technology lover; there is nothing wrong with technology in [my eyes]. I try to promote [technology] as much as I can, especially to open the eyes of people that are… kind of shaky about it. The internet brings you beautiful things that a lot of people are just missing out on because they haven't gone out to explore it.
EU (JON): Can I answer that question too? In my perspective, I do believe we have a loyal readership with an older community that I don't think is going to go away as long as we are covering the movies and we are covering the stuff that they are interested in. Our target demographic is the 30-year olds that make 40,000 to 60,000 dollars a year. I write for them. I feel like I am part of that community. When I write an article I write it almost directly to that age group. I try to encourage as much as I can for our writers to write for their age group. I think that especially in Jacksonville we have a lot of young parents, and I mean that's part of the whole reason we always have stuff to with our kids in [EU]... that's important to me. I'm a parent, I have two kids myself. I'm adamant about that being a part of [EU]. My focus, as far as what I am constantly trying to get more in the paper, is what I think that Rachel and I have succeeded a lot in the 'Artsonville' issue. And achieving what both of us have always (well since I've come on, I've only been on [full-time] since November) ... to try to really make [EU] speak for... is that cultural community that doesn't get excavated by any of the other media in town. I mean, I love Folio. I'm an avid Folio reader. I am interested in the politics in this city. I believe in pursuing the politics in this city. I believe that we need a media like Folio to uncover stuff that is going on and to whistle-blow, to make the community aware of those things. But with EU, my objective is to really excavate that cultural community that doesn't get enough angle. The local bands... the original Shangra-la… Brian Jerin is in this band Shangra-La and they are this great band of national caliber that is right here, under our noses. And if it were up to Folio, no one would ever know about that. And even when it comes to bands that I think are relevant to my age group… like Yo La Tengo is a good example of this: I did an interview with Yo La Tengo. Yo La Tengo's show is advertised in Folio and the Folio did an article that was maybe two hundred words about Yo La Tengo and they took all of the quotes off of some other internet interview that Yo La Tengo had done with some other newspaper up in Canada. Whereas we're going to have 800 words of an interview with Yo La Tengo because I am committed to delivering information from bands like that to people that want to find out more about it. Another example is tonight Brenton [Crozier] is interviewing Evan Dando from The Lemonheads... and you won't see that in the Folio.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): Well I think you've gone a long way to reach the demographic because I'm almost thirty (I'll be thirty in September) and the way that most people my age, they are very discriminating consumers... like if something doesn't look good or something doesn't work right they're going to throw [it] away and they're probably not going to come back to it. So I think you've gone a long way to reach that consumer box by re-doing the layout. It has a nice look. It's appealing… a lot more appealing than it used to be. If [EU] didn't look like this, I wouldn't have picked it up and I wouldn't have read it.
EU (JON): Does the content engage you too?
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): I have a different focus when I am looking for stuff...
EU (JON): Because you're an internet reader we're always talking about stuff ... like one of Rachel's goal is to make [EU] scan-able. So you can just run your eyes across the page and you know what you're getting into.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): I open this magazine and I'm like 'Ok.. movie reviews, movie reviews, ok... Shanty Town,' I'm reading that because it's about Springfield. If I see something about Downtown, San Marco, then I go online and try to find a link for it. I'm definitely a different kind of reader than probably the normal reader. But, I don't know, maybe all readers are like that and maybe they just scan what they are looking for.
EU (RACHEL): And that's why we're not making all of our articles the same. We want to offer different articles... you may only read two articles out of this whole paper, that's fine, as long as you enjoyed at least a couple of articles...
EU (JON): ... and remember that you read it in EU!
EU (RACHEL): [laughs] ... right, that's important. It is not meant for everything in [EU] to be applicable to [one] reader. It's meant that for every audience, we have something to offer. I mean, that's what we care about. I have to bring up the being online issue because we do make an effort to make sure that our publication is available anywhere. You can find the website updated every Thursday when [EU] comes out.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): That's when [EU] comes out, every Thursday?
EU (RACHEL): Yeah, the paper comes out every Thursday afternoon and by Thursday around 6 o'clock the website should be updated with all of that issue.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): … So it's just a few days before the weekend… and all the articles are based on what to do on the weekend following this week…?
EU (RACHEL): Right, so it's important to us to have [the website] up to date because not everybody gets to find a paper until Saturday or Sunday or maybe even Monday, but you can still go online, and you can see what's on there and in each issue. You can look at it in the regular website/html format, or you can download the PDF and scan the paper visually exactly the way it is presented to you on paper.
EU (JON): ... and the ads are in there.
EU (RACHEL): Right, and so it's important for us to have both of those up there. It's a perk to the advertiser [that their ad is online] and people want to see the whole presentation. There's a little bit that's lost when converted over to just the text and one picture on the internet. Our goal with the website is [like our paper] that it's easy to read and navigable (like our paper). I wanted it to reflect the design of the actual paper.
EU (JON): And we are working to expand the website a lot. It's a big focus this year to get the website to a place so that when you want to go to a restaurant in town, we want you to be able to get on our website and say 'I'm in the mood for Indian,' and find every Indian restaurant around have it link to a review done of that restaurant.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): ... Like Erin [Thursby]'s Cilantro review?
EU (JON): Exactly.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): I wish she would have come [to the interview] because that was one of the things that really turned me onto this magazine. I was like 'all these articles are written by this girl Erin Thursby, What is she doing? She's like a writing machine!'
EU (RACHEL): [laughs] she's a staff writer, so that's why. But you know, she originally came on board as a food reviewer, and she's excellent. She's well-versed, she knows food. She wrote for a publication in South Florida doing food reviews then came to us and we brought her on doing just food reviews, then we started having her work on more stuff.
... But yeah about the part that we are expanding on our website... we have an archive that has information that is greater than probably anywhere else in Jacksonville... because we have been covering Jacksonville for over 25 years, essentially. The information that we receive every week doesn't even make it into our paper each week. We have it, sitting around. Then we get a one week view time and then it's onto the next thing, the next thing... So we are working on building another portion of our website that will be strictly focused on guiding the local people and places. Like if you go online and you want to find anything you want on whatever restaurant, you can look it up. Or any band... we're going to use that information too.
EU (JON): Right, it's going to be all about local representation. Not only are we a locally-owned and family-owned business, but all of us are really 'Jacksonville people.' You're not going to see syndicated columns or anything like that in [EU]. Everything is written by someone locally because we believe in the community and Jacksonville. We believe that it, by itself, puts out great work, great perspective. There are great artist, there are great musicians, and there are great writers. We want to bring that to the forefront. I think that a lot of other publications bring a lot of national stuff that's going on, and maybe deliver them in a local voice. But we are all local. The entire paper is really, really home-grown. It believes in Jacksonville.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): Do you guys have freelance writers? Or do you take contributions and submissions?
EU (RACHEL): Absolutely. That's one thing that we are actually really trying to build... having more contributing writers that we can add to our mix of people.
EU (JON): Like insider columns. We are really getting into the idea of having a musician that writes about local music. I've been talking to Christina Wagner, who is a local musician and also works at Jack Rabbits and she's like 'I see all these great bands that no one comes to,' and I was like 'Write about it! And send it to me and we will run it! Absolutely.' We want to have your eyes and ears. You're the one that's out there. I can't be at all the shows. And I can't send Rick Grant or Erin Thursby to every show. So when there's a great one, write about it and send it to us.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): So to talk a little bit more about the technology aspect of your organization… why did you guys all decide to start your own blogs? Because you (Jon) have a blog, you are Jaxivillain? So why not just have one?
EU (RACHEL): I probably have 50 or 60 plus blogs on my RSS subscription feeds. I love reading blogs. I think it is one of the most amazing...
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): ... I love when I hear people say that. Uhh! RSS!
EU (RACHEL): It's like having the most amazing magazine subscriptions coming into your mailbox once every fifteen minutes. And it's free! You just get so many new ideas and glimpses to other sides of the world. Like I read some blogs that aren't even in English but they have great pictures and links that I can still follow. I don't know, it's just great, and I've read them for a long time, I'm always sending links to my friends. So I thought I'm going to go ahead and do my own blog. I was kind of starting one, and then we talked about blogs [at our editorial meetings] and I started encouraging our writers to start a blog because they sometimes had pieces they wanted to write, but they might have been a little too political-themed for what we want to put in [EU]. But I was like those would be great things to put in a blog where you can have extra stuff... Like recipes, Erin likes to make a lot of recipes, and that's perfect for something to write in a blog about to supplement the paper. So I encouraged everybody to do that and then it just happened to be at the same time for myself that I thought 'You know what? I've been wanting to start a blog myself..." I had had things archived for probably a year that I had wanted to share. I, personally, am just really into design, so that's just what I like to write about.
EU (JON): And the voices are also unique to themselves. Like Rachel has totally her own voice on her blog... and she brings things to my attention when I read her blog about stuff I would never even find out about or look into. Whereas mine is just totally a soapbox, I'll just get on there and rant and rave about anything, and I'll do it with cynicism and crass that I would never put in [EU].
EU (RACHEL): And I don't think of myself as a writer at all. I sort of loathe writing. I can do it, but really, if I could present my whole life in pictures, I would. Photography is awesome. I am pursuing a photography degree at UNF, it's on hold for a little while since I am working all the time... but I am. And that's the way I am, if I could present everything visually I would... it's just the way that I read things and the way that I see things. But I think that's what my hesitation or having a blog was about, because I really didn't want to write anything, but I thought I'd love to show people things! So that's the focus of mine at least. I admire writers, I love them, I work around them all the time… and I can certainly help direct it, organize it and manage it, but writing is not my forte. [laughs]
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): I think that's a good answer to my question because you kind of are allowing your writers to write about anything without really associating it with the publication. Which, you don't want to have to restrict what your writers write on their blogs, but it can still be associated with the publication. That makes sense.
EU (RACHEL): Well, like Rick, he's had his blog for a long time.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): And Rick is...
EU (RACHEL): Rick Grant
EU (JON): He's our Senior Writer.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): What's his blog address?
EU (RACHEL): It's shot-from-the-hip.blogspot.com.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): What's your domain name?
EU (RACHEL) & (JON): eujacksonville.com
EU (RACHEL): He's had his own website and own blog for a while.
EU (JON): Yeah, he's amazingly technologically-savvy for a guy his age. He's all about internet and TV being the same... it's crazy.
EU (RACHEL): He's been writing for our paper for over twenty years. He's been around, seen it all... He's certainly seen more than I have. Granted, I've been around the publication, well working for it going on eight years now... but I've seen it [being made] since I was ten (actually eight) [years old].
EU (JON): If you know Rick's writing, he has a brilliance to him.
EU (RACHEL): He's covered bands here for twenty years so he knows the folks around town.
URBAN JACKSONVILLE (JOEY): So Rick writes music reviews?
EU (RACHEL): Music reviews and movie reviews.
EU (JON): He loves cover bands so he's great at covering the nuances to the cover bands; whereas I wouldn't be good at that. I'm a musician so I fancy myself in pretty good music, but when it comes to covering a band, I am an elitist when it comes to music. If I go and listen to a band that I don't love then I will berate them where I'll be like 'I could have just put on the Beatles album' or whatever, whereas Rick is really good at excavating what's good about them.
EU (RACHEL): There are tons of [cover] bands in Jacksonville and we don't neglect any of them because they are a huge part of the music scene in Jacksonville too. [Many] young people don't recognize that as part of the 'music scene' but they've been here since we were all born.
EU (JON): And he's been doing it so long he's friends with everyone. Like the Skynrd family, he knows them, Delbert McClintock...
EU (RACHEL): Anyways, going back to the blog thing I was like we should really put Rick's blog up on the website so everybody can read that too. And then we decided to put all of ours up [too].