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Why are you changing my Yankee?

Why are you changing my Yankee?
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Even before Yankee‘s new January/February issue arrived in subscribers’ homes, the letters and e-mails started coming: “Why are you changing my Yankee?”

These messages, surprisingly, give me much hope for our future, because Yankee readers care passionately about the unique little magazine they’ve always looked upon as a friend. And we never want our friends to change. It’s a measure of Yankee‘s singular place in your lives that you write and call and fret a bit that maybe we won’t continue to be that friend — that slice of New England that reminds you with each issue why this little pocket of the world matters so much to our lives.

So, knowing I’ll surely hear from hundreds of you in the weeks ahead, here are some answers to the questions I know you’ll be asking.

I always loved Yankee‘s unique size. It was always so easy to carry around. Why are you making it bigger?

I’ve been here 27 years, and from my first day, we editors have struggled to reconcile Yankee‘s size with how we’ve wished we could present the stories and photos we’ve loved. Yankee became a smaller-sized magazine only because of paper shortages during World War II, and after the war, Yankee‘s founder and editor, Robb Sagendorph, stayed with it. New England, to me, is the most beautiful place in America, and I want the best chance to showcase it. I want stories to entertain, inform, and stir your curiosity — and I want enough space on the page to let that happen to the fullest. Yankee‘s mission and our inspiration haven’t changed — we’re just stretching out a bit.

I always open Yankee* from back to front because Edie Clark’s “Mary’s Farm” is my favorite page in the magazine. What did you do with it?*

I’ve been Edie’s friend and colleague since we were young editors and writers here. Nobody loves her writing more than I do. That’s why I’ve put “Mary’s Farm” prominently in the front — with room for more words, I might add.

For me, Edie’s writing is as warm and as calming as a shallow, sun-filled lake. You know how you first dip your toes in, and liking it, you’re ready to plunge in? I want readers to open Yankee, begin with “Mary’s Farm,” and then settle down for a warm, relaxing jaunt through the issue. On this farm Edie will continue to grow great words.

*You keep saying there’s lots more information on I have friends who don’t own a computer and don’t want to have to buy one to keep up with *Yankee.

Fair enough. I was famous around Yankee for my reluctance to give up my typewriter. Our editor-in-chief, Jud Hale, still writes every one of his stories longhand on a lined yellow notepad. But the electronic age does let us expand a story in ways we can’t on the printed page.

If we write about a musician, for instance, we can encourage you to listen to the music at our Web site. If space in Yankee only lets us include four gardening tips, we can offer additional useful information on our Web site. Our Web site is a companion — a resource — not a substitute for Yankee.

Every library today has computers for the public. Just go in, ask the librarian to show you how to find, and explore. What you’ll find there is plain, simple, good New England information. And a lot of fun.

*I don’t like change one bit. *

I know. New Englanders are more set in our ways than anyone. It’s why the big chain stores have struggled more here than anywhere else to gain footholds — our town centers aren’t going to give up without a fight. New Englanders have trusted Yankee for 72 years. Each year we’ve tinkered and mended and done our best. Now, that’s one thing that’ll never change.

Updated Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

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