In a world where print advertising is volatile, one UF alumna is developing her own ad-free publication.
Suzette Cook, 46, released the first issue of her new publication, Art & Soul, this month. The publication is completely funded by proceeds from Cook’s antique consignment shop Artsy Smartsy, located at 402 NW 10th Ave., a few blocks north of the Hippodrome State Theatre.
“I knew I wanted to launch an art magazine,” Cook said. “But I wanted it to be different. I’m trying to fund a magazine with a store and see if I can surpass advertising.”
Cook said she wanted to avoid deadlines so she can take as much time as she wants to work on a story without pressure from advertisers.
“To think that journalism is going to be funded with ad sales,” Cook said, “that’s the archaic model.”
Cook also uses her store and the people who shop there as catalysts for ideas and inspiration for stories, she said.
Mike Foley, a UF journalism professor, said Cook isn’t the first to attempt to release an ad-free publication.
“I think she started this store to realize her dream of publishing this magazine, and I think that’s terrific,” Foley said.
Ad-free publication has been attempted before on a grander scale and failed, Foley said.
“The newspapers need a new model,” Foley said. “The advertising makeup of the newspaper has changed drastically.”
Ayana Stewart, a 20-year-old UF journalism junior and president of the Society of Professional Journalists, said she admires what Cook is doing but questions whether it is a realistic model for all-print journalism.
“There’s definitely a possibility that it could work for her if she continued to expand and fund it without advertisement, especially if that’s what she’s dedicated to,” Stewart said.
However, she said she doesn’t see a way that major publications could survive without advertisements.
“I think that on a smaller scale, it’s a really cool idea,” Stewart said.
[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 1/29/2014 under the headline "UF alumna starts advertisement-free Gainesville art magazine"]