By Terrah Baker
Have you heard the news? Print journalism is dying. Or at least that’s according to numerous naysayers and skeptics found online — coincidence? Maybe. But one local resident and publisher, Kody Ford of The Idle Class magazine, said he’s not accepting that, nor are the large number of backers and readers his publication has acquired since its launch in 2012. Print’s not dying, it’s evolving, Ford argues.
In The Beginning
The magazine didn’t start as a quarterly publication, but as an online blog, with a mission of bridging the art cultures throughout the state of Arkansas. Once he found his niche, he knew the best way to reach as many people as possible on a tight budget was to go to print.
A mission of covering the entire state is a big task for any publication, but especially for publisher, editor, ad sales rep., and writer Kody Ford and his small crew. He has a behind-the-scenes gang of old friends, writers, artists, comedians and editors that help get The Idle Class out each quarter. While the content tends to be heavy on Central and Northwest Arkansas happenings, they have plans of spreading far beyond.
Ford finished his degree in public relations at the University of Central Arkansas in the early 2000 where he learned to immerse himself in the artist culture of the area. When he moved to Fayetteville, there was plenty of that same culture to enjoy. But he found a huge disconnect. No one there knew what was happening here, and vice versa.
“What if there was a way to bridge the distance and let people know what’s going on down there? In 2011, this started as a blog. I went to some event in Little Rock and met this kid who was taking pictures,” Ford explained. And the rest was history.
Through that guy he met Andrew McClain, now managing editor, who writes regular articles and even sells an ad here and there. McClain said it’s not hard to find ideas for content if artists are doing their job and getting out there. He searches throughout Arkansas with the help of friends, and specializes in the music scenes.
To do this they choose a topic for each issue and make it the theme. One quarter it was film, another fashion, and the one coming out in early December will be comedy. In this issue they’ll cover topics like the Rock City Times which has become a national sensation with their The Onion-like ethics — meaning they have very little and their articles are for humor.
There are, of course, certain topics they rotate out, like music, art, poetry and even food, but in the end it comes down to a focus on the creative life. That’s what the title The Idle Class is all about.
As ford explained it, he was in Hastings one day and saw a short film by Charlie Chaplin entitled “The Idle Class” — a satirical bit about financially wealthy Americans. Out of the over 40 names he had written down at that time — knowing one day he would launch a magazine — that name stuck with him.
“People think that creative people are really idle, sitting around getting stoned or drunk, scribbling on paper. People have that stereotype, so I just thought that’s a funny, ironic title because they’re anything but,” Ford said.
Right now the magazine comes out once a quarter, but Ford and his small staff have hopes of turning that into bi-monthly, if not monthly in the near future. They plan on starting the Idle Class Press which will publish books of Arkansas poetry, starting with singer/songwriter/poet Benjamin Del Shreeve. They plan on starting a T-shirt line with an idea Ford said he hasn’t seen done yet, and produce Podcasts with comedic hosts and special guests.
Most importantly, they want to focus on putting out a print edition so people can have something in their hand, to grab onto, to read, to cherish, to pass on to friends, the things only print can offer.
“Print’s not dead, it’s just evolving. We just have to figure out where our niche is. For me, it came down to printing a print edition and getting it in people’s hands,” he said. “And it wouldn’t have been possible without our financial and creative supporters.”