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The Mirror History

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Quality Writing Will Guide Newsmagazine

As publisher and editor of the St. Louis Mirror, Richard Lowenstein has directed his efforts toward production of an uncommon news magazine that strives simply to “say something that isn’t being said,” within the established news media.
“We’re here to reflect and solicit our readers’ views in order to create a dialogue of sorts,” said Lowenstein. Since its inception late last year, the publication has drawn praise for its quality and reaped substantial public acceptance sensitive to minorities and the arts, the magazine presents a specialized view of neglected or “alternative issues – not in the counterculture sense,” said Lowenstein, “but designed more for a readership that doesn’t fit into the mold.”
Leafing through a copy of the Mirror, one finds political and economic commentary, unusual angles in media and arts coverage, plus a detailed calendar section known as “et cetera.”
It its first issue, the Mirror shed light on the strained relationship between Georgia Buckowitz, director of parks and recreation in St. Louis, and her employees; plus an in-depth piece on the status of home childbirth. In its latest issue, the magazine examines local black political influence in the wake of the November elections, and features contributing writer J.B. Rollins in a critique of the “movie critics” employed by the two St. Louis dailies.
With a press run of approximately 7,500, Lowenstein hopes to establish a large subscriber base – as much as 80 percent. The other 20 percent would be distributed free of charge to college campuses and similar areas with a “high level of sophistication.” At this time much of his circulation is distributed free of charge. Lowenstein definitely wants to appeal to local and regional writers.
Like other publishers, Lowenstein acknowledges the traditionally conservative environment of the Midwest. But rather than seeing that mood as immutable, Lowenstein maintains that “the St. Louis conservative tone is set largely by the power elite, as manifested in the media.” However, there are plenty of people, according to Lowenstein, that make up their own minds.
“The Mirror is a newsmagazine that I feel St. Louisans will want to read…I wouldn’t be publishing it if a similar concept already existed,” said Lowenstein.
Admittedly, Lowenstein borrowed the name of his publication from the old St. Louis-based Reedy’s Mirror, which in 1915 boasted a nationwide circulation of more than 32,000. The sole editor of the magazine, William Marion Reedy, led a flamboyant life, frequently spiced by scandalous mischief involving wine, women and song. Reedy cultivated an impressive stable of writers and provided an editorial wit and candor that allowed great writing to flourish.
Today, Lowenstein is determined to translate Reedy’s combination of aggressive commentary and quality writing into the new Mirror. He would sooner publish a well-written frivolous article than a poorly written serious article. Said Lowenstein, “As long as we can continually put out a quality product, that’s all that matters.”
Prior to publishing the Mirror, Lowenstein worked as editor of the St. Louis Journalism Review, the Hartford Times (Hartford, Connecticut) and was an editor for a New York publishing firm.
(Originally published in the St. Louis Journalism Review 3/1981).