'The Good Life' Says Goodbye
Shrinking economy forces monthly magazine to close shop
The Good Life, a monthly community magazine, has fallen victim to a cash-strapped economy. Publisher Rebecca Melançon and Editor Ken Martin announced last week that the free publication's January issue would be its last and that its online presence – which had recently undergone a long-overdue upgrade – would ultimately cease as well. The husband-and-wife publishing team started The Good Life more than 11 years ago, specifically targeting an audience of aging baby boomers bent on living life to the fullest. As such, the progressive-leaning magazine focused its content on consumer and health-care issues, local political debates, and profiles on Austin personalities. Craig McDonald, executive director of the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice, had the sad distinction of appearing on the cover of The Good Life's final issue.
The magazine, like most publishing outfits with modest budgets, survived by dint of hard work, a committed force of local advertisers, and a small but loyal base of readers. The monthly's extended family included longtime contributors who were willing to work for peanuts, such as writer/activist Kathy Mitchell and the photography duo of Barton Wilder.
"The Good Life has always been a labor of love as much as a business," Melançon wrote in a farewell letter to the magazine's advertisers and supporters. "Now the current economic conditions make it impossible for us to continue."
Melançon and Martin have a long publishing history in Austin. They served as publisher and editor, respectively, of the Austin Business Journal, until the weekly's acquisition by American City Business Journals Inc., in the early Nineties. American City fired the couple almost immediately after the purchase. They then launched In Fact Daily, an online publication covering the day-to-day maneuverings at City Hall, now owned by Jo Clifton.
Asked if the couple had any immediate plans for a new venture, Melançon replied by e-mail: "Our entrepreneurial spirit is a little bruised right now so our agenda (or at least mine) is serious margarita therapy for at least a week!" She added, "I have been blown away by the warm and heartfelt good wishes we have received" since announcing the publication's closure. "For all those times I thought 'is anyone out there reading this stuff?' they were and they loved Good Life as much as we did."