JOURNALIST Q&A: Jack Bettridge

For Jack Bettridge, the good life is something to take very seriously. As the senior features editor at Cigar Aficionado, Bettridge is on the lookout for what's of interest to the modern man who's always aspiring to reach a newer, higher status in work and life - and the luxury he can afford as a result.

For Jack Bettridge, the good life is something to take very seriously. As the senior features editor at Cigar Aficionado, Bettridge is on the lookout for what's of interest to the modern man who's always aspiring to reach a newer, higher status in work and life - and the luxury he can afford as a result.

PRWeek: The magazine has covered a wide range of topics, from Edgar Bronfman Jr.'s misfortunes to boxing lessons. What do readers most actively respond to? Bettridge: If you go by the mail we get from readers, hot issues like Bronfman and other political stories. On the other hand, David Savona, who took the boxing lessons and wrote the piece, gets a lot of feedback. Then again, when we do a feature like the one that ran recently on pinstripe suits, we get scores of readers who call in and ask where they can purchase the merchandise. PRWeek: In the past, the magazine always had a celebrity smoking a cigar on the cover. When did the change come about? Bettridge: We underwent a redesign in June of 2000. The thinking was that we had established ourselves already with the cigar image, which when it first appeared - before the cigar boom - was quite bold. It became time to move on to a new format that gave us more graphic choices. PRWeek: Tobacco can be a touchy subject, with the industry always on the defensive. Has this change affected the magazine's coverage? Bettridge: Only in that we cover the spread of antismoking laws. We feel it is a valuable service to our readers to be kept up to date on legal changes and the venues where they may continue to enjoy cigars. Our July/ August issue identified the few clubs in New York City that allow cigars. The website regularly has updates on the antismoking front as well. PRWeek: What is it about the cigar industry that makes it more interesting than other luxury offerings? Bettridge: A fine cigar in hand represents an appreciation for the best materials wedded with age-old craftsmanship; an ability to discern and enjoy complex flavors that are perhaps not accessible to everyone; a recognition of the importance of self- reward; and the chance to take a break from the chaos and say, "This one's for me." PRWeek: What changes has the coverage undergone as the affluent class has shrunk along with the economy? Bettridge: Our most recent changes have come not as a reflection of the economic climate, but were prompted by a desire to widen our coverage. Over a year ago, we added the Good Life Guide. Each issue has one-page takes on topics such as sports gear, hi-tech, spirits, style, cigar gadgets, watches, cars, and something we call Fun, which has a lot of latitude. For instance, we featured a $5 Cuban sandwich one month and a $20 million personal submarine the next. ----- Name Jack Bettridge Publication Cigar Aficionado Title Senior features editor Preferred contact method jbettridge@mshanken.com Website cigaraficionado.com

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