We may be losing all of those Northwest Airlines headquarters jobs, but there could be good news soon for the local journalism community: Delta’s in-flight Sky magazine will likely be published here.
If it happens — and my sources tell me the chances are excellent — the winner would be MSP Communications, which publishes Mpls.St.Paul magazine and currently does Northwest’s World Traveler. Sky is now published by Greensboro, North Carolina-based Pace Communications, the only other current bidder.
MSP President Gary Johnson made it perfectly clear that if I was going to handicap this, I’d be on my own. “It’s too early to say it’s done,” he insists. “It’s not a t’s crossed, i’s dotted kind of thing; it’s a little further away than that.”
Johnson expects a final decision from Delta in a week, and if the envelope reads “Minneapolis-St. Paul,” it would be a nice little pick-me-up for a depressed local journalism scene. Delta has become the nation’s largest airline, and Johnson forsees a 20-person staff, roughly triple that of NWA’s magazine — “plus an unlimited number of opportunities for freelance writers and photographers.”
He couldn’t help enthusing over the possibilities.
“It’s a big damn deal whoever get this,” Johnson says. “It could be the most widely circulated magazine in America. People don’t understand that something like Better Homes and Gardens has a circulation of 7.7 million a month, but those are the same readers every month. This thing we’re going to be doing — or someone’s going to be doing — will be 5.3 million a month, but 45 or 50 million unique readers a year.”
Delta’s heft creates some decent ad-side opportunities if and when the economy turns around, though the airline is surely trying to keep as much of the upside as bidders can tolerate.
Of course, airline glossies don’t win Pulitzers, but especially for freelancers, they provide sustenance for a lot of otherwise serious journalists. Fingers crossed, people.
[Conflict of interest note: I’ve written plenty for MSP between staff jobs.]