Edward Graves jumped right into the heart of New Mexico as the new CEO/publisher of New Mexico Magazine.
He took charge of the state tourism magazine Jan. 6 and soon after made a road trip to Carrizozo, a town off the beaten path that features painted burros on the rooftops of some buildings. A Carrizozo gallery played host to a reception for New Mexico Magazine photo contest winners.
“I just love the variety of terrain,” Graves said. “I was just in awe. One of the interesting things about New Mexico is the people. It is very rare to live in a place where everybody is excited and speaks in a positive nature about where they live.”
Graves would know. His publishing career has taken him to eight states, starting in his native Kentucky, with stints in Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia.
Graves, 64, is new to living in the West but not new to New Mexico, having visited Santa Fe several times.
He now helms the oldest continuously published statewide magazine — New Mexico Magazine debuted in 1923.
Graves has a new frontier to embrace: online, specifically social media, and in particular, getting more voices of residents into the magazine and on its website.
“I want to continue to increase the voices and bring the people to life through various digital and social media platforms,” Graves said.
He noted magazine staff members posted Carrizozo event photos right way on Facebook and Instagram. Graves said many more events around the state will get “live” coverage than in the past.
“I want to add video, more video and add bloggers,” Graves said. “I want to increase that discourse with readers and viewers. We would like to get more local voices in the pages of the magazine.”
He plans to redesign the website to better achieve these goals.
“In print, you want to be very precise,” Graves said. “With Facebook, we have a ‘good enough’ factor. Is it good enough to post?”
As an outsider, Graves said he is well aware New Mexico is still largely unknown.
“So many people I know, they really don’t know the adventurous nature of New Mexico,” Graves said. “I want to let people know about the secret, hidden places.”
Graves was chosen from a field of 12 qualified applicants, according to the New Mexico Tourism Department, under which the magazine falls. New Mexico Magazine is an “enterprise fund” entity with a $3.2 million budget that is not funded by taxpayer dollars.
“Edward’s distinguished background in publishing, specifically in fiscal management and marketplace expertise, really impressed us,” Tourism Deputy Secretary Antoinette Vigil said in an email. “Those who had worked with Edward all highlighted his ability to unify the creative and business teams, which is incredibly important at the management level for a publication.”
With the publishing industry in disarray, New Mexico Magazine remains a 12-issue-a-year publication in an age where numerous monthly magazines have slimmed to 10 issues or fewer and/or downgraded paper quality.
New Mexico has a print circulation of 68,500, down from the high of 90,000 in 2015, but Graves noted that was largely on account of cutting the 20,000 copies distributed to hotels. The magazine has 122,614 Facebook followers, with 46,300 on Twitter, 9,415 on Instagram and 30,000 newsletter subscribers.
“New Mexico Magazine is an incredible product and is in a position to build on its strengths while exploring new opportunities for growth with Edward at the helm,” Vigil said. “We expect the continued production of a competitive digital journalism product. We hope … to explore traditional and nontraditional revenue sources.”
Graves lived in Kentucky until his mid-20s, growing up in Louisville and graduating from Eastern Kentucky University. His first job out of college was at the newspaper in Lexington.
He built a career on the business side of newspapers, next heading to Melbourne, Fla., then Jackson, Tenn., suburban Pittsburgh, Pensacola, Fla., Greenville, S.C., and returning to Jackson to become publisher of the Jackson Sun.
He then had a seven-year stint as vice president of affiliate sales relations at Gannett‘s USA Weekend magazine in McLean, Va., and a one-year stay as senior group publisher in east Arkansas for Gatehouse Media, which merged with Gannett last year.
Graves returned for a third time to Florida in August 2017 as 25 percent owner of News Connection USA and its Lifestyles After 50 magazine. He and his partners sold the business in December 2018, but Graves stayed on as publisher until the New Mexico Magazine job was finalized.
As an African American, diversity is part of Graves’ life and an avenue he wants to explore with New Mexico Magazine.
“Our guiding principle is to be inclusive and embrace the multi-diversity of the state, to be honest and edgy,” Graves said.