FEBRUARY 27, 2014

“We’re trying to build a better state one issue and one business at a time,” says Nikki Bowman, editor and founder of New South Media, a magazine publisher based in Morgantown.

New South Media specializes in the production of lifestyle magazines, with the most notable being ‘West Virginia Living.’ In January, New South Media released its newest magazine, ‘West Virginia Focus.’

Since its creation in 2008, New South Media’s magazines have primarily focused on the positive representation of West Virginia, said Bowman. With ‘Focus,’ however, New South Media hopes to provide a toolkit for small businesses and entrepreneurship, while at the same time tackle state policy issues, she added.

‘West Virginia Focus’ is an altogether different endeavor for New South Media, as this is the first time the company has branched off from its traditional model. According to Bowman, ‘West Virginia Living’ and New South Media’s other magazines didn’t have a place for the issues discussed in ‘West Virginia Focus.’ Bowman also explained that ‘West Virginia Focus’ aims to show no bias or political leanings, a characteristic she expressed as crucial to creating a successful magazine.

Because the magazine is just months into circulation, official sales numbers have not yet been calculated. However, based on social media buzz, the popularity has been significant. Says Bowman, “People have been really supportive and love the concept. It has been better than I anticipated.”

Along with the magazine, ‘West Virginia Focus’ also has its own website. The website, found at ‘wvfocus.com,’ aims to provide supplemental content related to the magazine. Pam Kasey, assistant director and writer for ‘West Virginia Focus,’ revealed that she has many plans for the ‘West Virginia Focus’ website. “There will be specific content on the website,” stated Kasey. “But there’s a lot of content that’s specific to the magazine. We’re still figuring out what the parts of the website are going to be,” she continued.

Even though ‘Focus’ greatly differs in content with New South Media’s other magazines, Bowman believes that they can share the same audience. “It’s sort of the same demographic,” said Bowman. “People receiving ‘Focus’ may also subscribe to ‘West Virginia Living,’” she proceeded.

Currently, one is able to buy the first issue of ‘West Virginia Focus’ online for $4.95. A bimonthly magazine, it’s also available by yearly subscription ($20), which includes all six issues for 2014. It has yet to be determined when digital copies will be available.

In the first issue of ‘West Virginia Focus,’ eight West Virginian towns, in desperate need of change, are featured in an article titled ‘Turn This Town Around.’ This campaign, completely funded and organized by New South Media, hopes to transform at least one of the towns mentioned in the article.

In starting this campaign, not only does New South Media want to help a once flourishing town change, but also inspire other West Virginians to be vested in the nature of their state.

“We’re addressing the issues that often get swept under the rug; they are often so big that we don’t even know how or where to start tackling them,” explained Bowman.

Stories like ‘Turn This Town Around’ are what one can expect from ‘West Virginia Focus,’ says Bowman. “We’re not just telling stories, we’re creating stories.”

“There is something for everyone,” insists Bowman. “Whether you’re in the legislature or voting on the people who are representing us in the legislature; we’re trying to educate [everyone] about electing the right public officials to represent our needs to build a better state.”