GEORGIA Magazine is the state’s largest-circulation monthly magazine, a general-interest publication that averages more than half a million monthly subscribers with an estimated readership of more than 1 million. The magazine is the official publication of Georgia Electric Membership Corp. (Georgia EMC), the trade association that serves the state’s forty-one consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.
The state’s oldest monthly magazine, GEORGIA Magazine launched in July 1945 as RURAL GEORGIA, a newspaper tabloid mailed to rural homes served by the state’s EMCs. Originally, the magazine was produced by Georgia EMC staff members. The periodical’s first editor, Belmont Dennis, was hired in 1945. Since then, there have been fourteen editors, including the current editor Laurel George.
In 1951 Georgia EMC Manager Walter Harrison became editor of the tabloid, which operated out of Georgia EMC offices in his hometown of Millen. Instrumental in organizing the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), Harrison served three separate turns as editor of the state association’s publication and contributed a monthly column.
In 1958 RURAL GEORGIA expanded to sixteen pages. Later, it moved from a sheet-fed press to a web press and significantly raised advertising revenue. Along with Georgia EMC, the newspaper tabloid moved its offices from Millen to Atlanta and, under the leadership of Bill Blankinship, became a thirty two-page, four-color magazine in 1977. Emphasis was put on special editions to build advertising and circulation, which, in 1980, surpassed 200,000. That same year, the magazine surveyed its readers and, based on the results, created what continue to be its most popular departments: a calendar of events and cooking and gardening columns. The magazine was named the best electric cooperative magazine in a NRECA national competition in 1980.
In 1990 RURAL GEORGIA changed its name to GEORGIA Magazine to reflect its readership, which had grown to include those in both rural and suburban communities.
As the magazine’s circulation increased to a monthly average of more than 500,000, a more efficient means of printing was sought. In 2002 the publication partnered with Quad/Graphics, one of the largest printers in the nation, with presses in The Rock, a middle Georgia unincorporated community near Forsyth.
Simultaneously, the magazine embraced new technical trends, winning national industry awards for its website and offering readers a digital edition of the magazine in a flip-page format.
Along with its statewide edition, GEORGIA Magazine serves twenty-nine of the state’s EMCs which incorporate their own newsletters into the magazine’s center fold, bringing local co-op news as well as state EMC news to their members.
In 2016 the publication partnered with the Digital Library of Georgia, which archived the magazine and provided online access to past issues.