One of the remarkable reasons for the success of The Network Journal has been its ability to pay attention to trends and to heed the advice it often publishes.
Back in 1993, on the cover of its third volume, TNJ published an article titled “Finding a Niche for Your Dream,” written by Sharon Williams. TNJ indeed found a niche for its own dream — a dream that was based on sound economic principles.
The dreamer was Aziz Gueye Adetimirin, the magazine’s founding and current publisher. Aziz saw the niche: there was no Black business-oriented magazine dealing with issues in the metropolitan New York area. It was an enticing but challenging opening. Adetimirin heeded the advice of the article by playing it safe, doing his homework. He carefully considered the extent of his capital and studiously gauged the ever-shifting trends that can turn an entrepreneurial dream into a nightmare.
Equally important to the publisher’s quest was surrounding himself with a competent staff and then being mindful not to micromanage his business. While his editors and writers took care of their assignments, he was free to look after funding, research and development, watching how his product was doing on the market. In keeping tabs on the market, Aziz was constantly reading reports, newspapers, books and other journals, as well as picking up valuable advice from conferences and seminars.
“I want to publish a magazine that I can be proud of, that provides a service to the community and that will survive the often volatile business cycles,” Aziz once told a reporter.
Over the years, since TNJ’s inception, countless Black magazines have come and gone. Most of them failed because they did not have the sustaining capital, tenacity or vision. It’s one thing to see where there is a void, quite another to fill it and still quite another to keep it filled.
I was a writer for TNJ when it first began, so I am tendentious. But it’s a bias that is grounded in observing how astutely the publisher has navigated the tricky waters of the market. Aziz has been a thoughtful and compassionate captain of his ship and it’s simply amazing that, given the increasingly shaking terrain for publications, Black or white, he has wisely kept his enterprise from the rocky shoals.
The Network Journal has come a long way from those initial editions in the early ’90s, when the late Akinshiju C. Ola and I were among a corps of writers who answered Aziz’s call, who believed in his dream. And as that dream has prospered and grown, the hundreds of aspiring writers and editors who answered the call have moved up their career ladders, never failing to appreciate Aziz’s tutelage.
There are numerous factors that may account for the success of TNJ, but one of paramount importance is the family-like attitude that has always prevailed — no matter where the office was located. That attitude emanates most readily from the chief himself, who, despite the occasional downturns in the market, has maintained a sunny, optimistic disposition.
“Everything is going good. I can’t complain” is his usual, sincere response to inquiries about how he and the magazine are faring.
Added to this is his unchanging fairness to his clients and his employees; and that more than anything is why TNJ continues to occupy its singular niche with the same promise and success it displayed 15 years ago.
Ah, Aziz, the best is yet to come!