By Jason Scharch
In a time when small journalism businesses are shrinking in number and size, three Rutgers alumni have had the courage to endeavor into the field and make their voices heard.
Jagazine is a monthly magazine published by Rutgers graduates Dan Scharch, Rob Bajor, and Jessica Kizmann that gives their readers the opportunity to contribute. Their mission is best summarized in this quote from their website, jagazineonline.com:
“We might just be crazy, but we’re sick of the same ol’ same ol’. We want to know why the American mass media tells us the same information every day. We want to know why we waste our precious time in our classes and at our jobs. And most of all we want to know why we can’t do anything about it.” The magazine survives as a voice of the underrepresented--the youth culture that is constantly ignored and force-fed their news, entertainment, and information from the media conglomerates--but most importantly it gives the individuals a chance to be heard by their peers.
The magazine has now completed its fourth issue and is working towards its fifth to be released in June. Popular recurring articles include “Adam Blum Reviews Movies He Hasn’t Seen, nor Does He Plan on Ever Seeing,” “Mixtape,” and interviews with celebrities such as G4’s Morgan Webb, and popular “nerdcore” rapper MC Lars.
The magazine readership has been growing based almost solely on word-of-mouth advertising, and other guerilla tactics such as Facebook and fliers, but they hope to begin a rapid expansion for a larger fan base and financial support system. Currently the magazine has a circulation of roughly 200, with yearly subscribers making up one fourth of that group. Dan Scharch, the Editor-In-Chief, said: “The beauty of Jagazine is that the fan base decides the magazine. We, the original Jagazine staff, have a vision of an underground library of content where people could learn from one another. Whatever direction the magazine has to go to get to that goal is fine by us.”
The creators of Jagazine have also teamed up with small companies that they feel have the same vision as they do in order to strengthen their individual efforts. Formatic Clothing and DeezTeez are both clothing companies who have teamed up with Jagazine and expect big things for the future. Formatic Clothing invited the Jagazine team to celebrate the release of their spring clothing line and promote the magazine, at “The Waiting Room” in near-by Rahway, NJ on March 29. Meanwhile, DeezTeez has helped out the magazine in the traditional sense by purchasing advertisement space in Jagazine. Scharch told me, “We are all young people taking a risk in a risky world and believing enough that people will join in with what we got. It may be business but it's not about money. It's a message that anything, at any age, in any industry, is possible.”
For now the creators say their main goal is just to survive, and ultimately thrive in this challenging economy. Scharch said, “Assuming the monetary concerns didn't exist though, our long-term goal is to develop and harness a community that is dedicated and constantly contributing to the Jagazine idea.” Reader and contributor Adriana Lee, a 21 year old student at Brooklyn College, said this about the first issue: “I just read through the first issue, and all I have to say is wow! They did an amazing job, really. They are so talented!” The idea has impressed the groups growing and dedicated fan base, but its independent thoughts and missions still rely on the commercial success with their readers and sponsors. The founders are optimistic about the future, and say that every month is exciting for them to see the new contributions and growing number of readers.
For more information on how to contribute or subscribe: jagazineonline.com
Jason Scharch is an undergraduate student at Rutgers University, studying Journalism and Media Studies, and Visual Arts with a concentration in Video. He has interned for ACM SIGGRAPH, worked as the Public Affairs Manager for Rutgers University Television Network, and is aspiring towards a career in broadcast journalism and television production.