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Blast From the Past

TEKBUG Debuts Five Years Late

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In the movie Blast from the Past, Brendan Fraser plays Adam, a boy born in a fallout shelter who ventures outside 35 years later. But somehow Adam never quite catches on to the fact that the Cold War is over. Ryan Douthit, publisher of Seattle's newest weekly, TEKBUG, is a lot like Adam.

If you haven't read it yet, TEKBUG looks like most weeklies with tabloid-style pages, color on the cover, and ads and articles inside. Dubbing itself the "tech-savvy lifestyle magazine," TEKBUG is the brainchild of current Computer Source magazine publisher Ryan Douthit. Mr. Douthit, a 29-year-old, Nordstrom-outfitted former dot-commer, describes Computer Source as a niche magazine dedicated solely to the computer industry. The industry is changing, he says, and so he created TEKBUG to branch out and appeal to the "new rich," a young, affluent, tech-loving audience. The problem is, Douthit's "new rich" audience is a fantasy.

With its Atari 5000 name and tech-and-lifestyle focus, TEKBUG might have worked three years ago, when cigars were in and anything tech was so revolutionary. But the dot-com boom went bust, along with almost anything that focused predominantly on technology or catered to the "new rich" (many of whom now swell the ranks of the "new broke"). Metropolitan Living, a local magazine that catered to an imaginary elite, failed because there are not enough people who care about caviar, pearl necklaces, and packaged safaris to justify having a magazine dedicated to them. (By the way, one Metropolitan Living editor-in-chief is now at TEKBUG.)

TEKBUG falls into Living's trap. The targeted readership doesn't exist, and the format is confusing. On one hand, it aims to be a lifestyle magazine, yet 90 percent of the ads are for computer parts. On the other hand, it aims to be a technology magazine, yet most of the stories are lifestyle shorts. ("Toss back your final cosmo. The drink to be seen sipping of late is the caipirinha....") One recent cover story focused on Seattle's modeling scene. Techies don't read about spa treatments and fancy drinks, they read about megabytes and video games. And the "new rich" relaxing by the pool, reading about spa treatments while trying not to get their weekly wet? They just don't exist.

Send media tips and gossip to pat@thestranger.com.

 

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