Downtown Phoenix Journal: November/December 2010

The creators of the inaugural print edition of Downtown Phoenix Journal are clearly stoked that CityScape has arrived in downtown's core.

However, after arriving at the end of the 20-page publication -- where three-quarters of a two-page spread is devoted to two different CityScape ads -- it seems that the bi-monthly journal was compiled by the marketing team of the controversial retail development and not by a team of journalists who report regularly on downtown's pulse.

Much care seems to have been invested into making the four-color magazine pickup-able; layout-wise, the publication is easy to read and navigate. It's when readers get into the meat of the product that things start to fluctuate.


The District Beat section, penned by DPJ managing editor Si Robins, is a nice off-the-beaten-path ode to the people and places making central Phoenix hip.

Robins' cover story on CityScape comes next, and that's when the queasy marketing feelings commence. It's not what the article contains (mostly positive feedback for CityScape and predictable and canned quotes from the developers), but what's missing, which is any mention of Patriots Square Park, the public gathering spot that has been made virtually invisible by RED Development's "retail mecca," as Robins calls it.

(For more about the plight of Patriots Square Park as well as an alternative opinion on CityScape's place in downtown Phoenix, check out Robrt Pela's column.)

J Seth Anderson's essay "Can Social Media Save Historic Phoenix?" follows, and in short, tries to say that local Twitter groups, such as (the since-moved) Tony Arranaga's @LightRailBlog, have the power to influence local historical preservation efforts. But before getting to the author's point, one must sift through a tangent about the Phoenix Fox Theater, and how if, grassroots organizations had the power to tweet in 1975 (the year the Fox went bye-bye), then current Phoenicians could still take in a flick at S. Charles Lee's elaborate art deco creation.

During an October 2010 interview with New Times, Catrina Kahler, Downtown Phoenix Journal publisher, said, "People hear the word magazine and make assumptions. Downtown is too important to have this perceived as just another magazine."

Agreed. And to DPJ's credit, the art direction and writing certainly aren't amateurish. However, the CityScape-centric copy and advertising blitzkrieg are just too close for comfort. So close, in fact, that it's really really uncomfortable.

Number of Pages, Including Front and Back Covers: 20

Cost: Free

Spots to Pick Up: Frances, Stinkweeds, Carly's

Next Issue: Slated for January/February 2011

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Steve Jansen
Contact: Steve Jansen