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A public space to change the pace

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Times are hard in the newspaper and magazine business. Recently, one McClatchy-owned paper sent out a memo to staffers saying that their papers were no longer free--newsroom jockeys need to pony up a quarter to get a take-home copy.

And in the middle of this Duke/Durham/lacrosse tornado, as soon as the ink is dry on the Herald and the News & Observer, it's way old news. The only way to get the fresh news, even before your first cup of coffee, is to go to the Web. Reporters are filing stories and updates around the clock. (But at least the print editions have the sudoku puzzles!)

Those of us who call Durham home are getting a firsthand, close-up view of the concept of "breaking news." We are the fodder, stereotypes all for the media. It sells nationally--it's economics really. "Duke" sells newspapers and magazines right now.


Want some fresh air? Two very different magazines this month will give you a bounce. They picked me up good.

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Issue No. 1 of A Public Space just dropped. It was launched this month by Brigid Hughes, former executive editor of the Paris Review. Hughes' exit from the Review was a really juicy news item in New York--her trials were chronicled in The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and, of course, Gawker.

Her new independent quarterly promises to "represent a great conversation between writers, editors and readers." Joining Hughes in editorial are some other pretty big names: The Paris Review's former editor-at-large, Elizabeth Gaffney, award-winning writer Yiyun Li, and novelist Richard Powers. Hot writer Kelly Link has a great story in the first issue, and she's joined by Rick Moody, Marilynne Robinson, Kazushige Abe and poet Matthea Harvey.

How will you find this keeper of a debut issue? It's the only journal on the newsstand with the exuberant upside-down child doing a backward somersault mattress flip! You can also find its home on the Web at www.apublicspace.org.


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When the going gets tough, the tough ... add DVDs to their magazines. And no one does it better than International designers Network. These folks just look like they're having lots of fun. They put out six wonderfully eclectic international editions a year, no production expenses spared. IdN is print media Art with that capital A.

Stuff simply looks good in IdN. Take 2005's end-of-year issue with its plastic wood-grainy cover, interactive DVD and lots of weird photo/art that just can't be logically explained in a linear print hunt-and-peck sentence. 2006's No. 1 is even more fun to scan. It's got topibots, a dozen Argentinian illustrators, a tribute to Nike Air Max 360, digital Narnia lore and Drunk Park. The words are secondary. It's all about the look.

One addictive feature of each issue is POTM (Picks of the Month), with their Wired magazine kind of hype (like "hey kid ... wanna see the next big thing?"). Of course, the kids already know what the next big thing is. But the rest of us want to know, don't we?

You can find IdN on the stands and at www.idnproshop.com/idnworld/index.htm.

Contributing writer John Valentine can be reached at ajcg@duke.edu.

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