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Home > News > News Articles > 2020 > November > The Evolution of Western City magazine — extending the voice and vision of California cities
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The Evolution of Western City magazine — extending the voice and vision of California cities

November 4, 2020
January 2021 will mark the beginning of a new era for Western City magazine. 
At the beginning of the year, the 121-year old publication will evolve into to an all-digital experience at A lot has changed since the magazine launched in 1899 as Pacific Municipalities, and in order to continue to provide League members with valuable content and a high-quality reader experience, the League is streamlining the distribution channels and expanding the ways readers can interact with the Western City content.

“I am excited about this new chapter of Western City magazine,” said League of California Cities Executive Director Carolyn Coleman. “The quality of ideas, the vision, and the content remains at the heart of the editorial development, but how we deliver that quality must evolve with the digital age, providing not only relevant, but timely and increasingly engaging material.”

Another important factor in making this decision to move the magazine entirely online was the trend in the magazine’s net revenues. In the past decade, print advertising revenues have declined across the country, and Western City magazine experienced the same drop in revenues. By taking Western City to an online only format, the magazine will eliminate design, print, and mailing costs and will be less reliant on print advertising to produce the valued content that city leaders turn to.

While print advertising sales across the country have steadily trended downward, digital ad revenues have doubled since 2015, providing Western City an opportunity for digital ad revenue growth, and a path to support expanded content and features on a digital-only platform. A digital-only format also reduces the carbon footprint associated with printing, mailing, and disposing of hard copies.

The lead time required for online stories is also greatly decreased compared to printed magazine articles, allowing for more timely pieces that can better align with timely advocacy priorities. The powerful foundation that Western City has built over the last century positions the magazine perfectly to transform and evolve into a new version of itself that will inspire its audience in new ways.

Jude Lemons, who spent the last 24 years overseeing the editorial direction and content of the magazine, will leave the Western City team at the end of the month to pursue new projects, but is excited to see the evolution of this valuable resource for cities.

“It’s been a privilege to be part of the Western City team since 1996,” said Jude Lemons, Managing Editor of the magazine. “The League staff are terrific teammates, and I’ve enjoyed working with mayors, council members, and city staff on articles that help them serve their communities and support the League’s priorities. It’s inspiring to witness our local leaders’ commitment to public service, their innovative leadership, and their resilience and determination in difficult times. Western City’s all-digital format will serve its readers in new, exciting ways, and I look forward to being a subscriber.”

From the mailbox to the inbox
While city officials have grown accustomed to finding Western City magazine in their mailbox, starting in January, a link to the magazine will now arrive each month by email inbox, with a summary of what’s in the issue.

Diverse perspectives, legal analyses, insights from legislators and experts, features on local government policy, process, and fiscal issues, commentary by League leadership, and individual city success stories demonstrating how #LocalWorks in California – will all be available on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or phone, wherever city officials are.

This evolution is a natural next step for Western City, extending its voice and vision, which will ultimately include increased video and social content. The League will continue to invest in this valuable resource for city officials to ensure it continues to reflect our cities of today, and of tomorrow.

© League of California Cities