What happened to Dispatch Magazine?


A final print issue of Dispatch. Photo by Nicholas Gervin.

Vanished from the newsstands over the winter, the entertainment magazine that covered the youthful side of Portland quietly went into hibernation. Today Dispatch’s publisher Bob Fernald, also CEO of Down East Magazine, released a statement:

Dispatch is no more.

From its beginning, Dispatch’s mission was to serve the young, progressive and diverse audience largely forgotten by other Portland publications. Our readers loved us but advertisers not so much. So after six years, we’re moving on.

Happily, The Phoenix picked up its game. In many respects, they serve our audience better than we can. Plus they hired Nick Schroeder, our former Editor in Chief. He’s a real talent and they are lucky to have him. Before you ask, we have nothing to do with the Phoenix… this is just one publisher recognizing the good in another.

So, a big thank you to our readers, authors, photographers, designers, the Dispatch team, friends and family. Please cheer-on The Phoenix and hope they continue the hard work of good journalism … Maine needs it.”

It was a short run.

In mid-March of 2015 Fernald reached a co-publishing agreement with Disptach  publisher Frank Copsidas and by August that year had taken over the monthly full time. In February of 2016, at a splashy party at Maine College of Art, they announced a full relaunch. Some questioned pumping money into print in a digital age in a small market. But Down East, Maine’s decades-old glossy headquartered on the midcoast, hungered for a piece of Portland.

Former Marketing Director Trevor Geiger, who was laid off in August of 2016 along with Co-Publisher/Director of Sales Thomas Giovanniello, noticed a big improvement in content under Down East’s wing. But resources seemed to dry up fast, said Geiger.

“There is a lot of competition and scant ad dollars. There was not much of an appetite for online ads, and print ads have thin margins,” said Geiger, whose tenure at Dispatch lasted four years. “It was a fight to keep it alive since the moment I started working there.”

Competitors like Old Port, launched by Maine Media Collective in 2014, and the newly prolific Maine Women Magazine nibbled away at available advertising dollars, Geiger said.

Schroeder posted a send-off Wednesday night on Facebook thanking the public and calling out co-workers and contributors for their support and hard work at Dispatch.

It looks like the once down-for-the-count Portland Phoenix is the victor here.

“Portland doesn’t need two or three magazines all fighting for the same dollars,” said Fernald in an email, “it’s a race to the bottom that nobody wins.”

Dispatchmag.com will be up for a few months with Fernald’s farewell message and then it will be dispatched for good.

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.