The old is new again at 'Saturday Evening Post'

"America is going through seismic changes, and we want to make sure the Post keeps up with what is going on," she said.

To complement the magazine, the Post has relaunched its website, offering new Posts each Saturday evening — naturally — with retrospective, art, blogs, health coverage and other content. Amid the Iranian protests over a disputed presidential election, the website offered retrospectives on the 1979 Iranian uprisings.

The Post also has begun a yearslong effort to digitize its historical content and offer it online.

"I think the key is keeping your hand on the pulse of what Americans are interested in," SerVaas said. "We're just trying to make sure we stay on that pulse."

America's love affair with the Post and its predecessor date to 1728, when Benjamin Franklin founded the Pennsylvania Gazette in Philadelphia. New owners changed the publication's name to The Saturday Evening Post in 1821, but it remained a newspaper for decades.

"It was a lot like a weblog now," publishing its own articles and reprinting pieces from other papers, said Jeff Nilsson, who oversees the Post archives.

By the 1870s, the content had shifted toward entertainment, with fiction on the front page. The page count began creeping up as the Post became a true magazine with more advertising, human interest features, fiction, poetry and cartoons. Over the decades, the Post has printed work from such authors as C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, William Saroyan, Rudyard Kipling, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Lorimer, who became editor in 1899, made the cover into an artists' showcase, featuring J.C. Leyendecker, N.C. Wyeth and others. In 1916, the Post began a nearly 50-year relationship with Norman Rockwell, whose cover work became a hallmark of the magazine.

"It worked well on both ends," said Stephanie Plunkett, chief curator at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. "I think he understood that the Post provided an outlet that was not really available in other places. He was able to reach a really broad audience with his art, and that's one of the reasons he became as famous as he did."

The artistic covers gave way in the 1960s to photographs of the Beatles, politicians, Klansmen and hippies. Fiction and poetry yielded to investigative reporting as the Post tried to compete with television and newsmagazines like Life and Look.

But mass-market magazines suffered as reading habits changed, more people watched television and specialty publications became popular, Husni said.

The Post ceased publication in 1969, crumpling under financial pressure the TV-print war placed on parent Curtis Publishing. SerVaas' father, Beurt, revived the magazine in 1971 as a quarterly publication after Rockwell announced on television that Beurt SerVaas was considering bringing back the Post, generating broad interest.

The magazine, now published six times a year, has been in the family since, with Joan SerVaas becoming publisher in 2007. It is now owned by a not-for-profit group set up by the SerVaas family that also owns children's magazines Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty and Turtle.

As part of its redesign, the magazine has appointed an editorial advisory board that boasts Osgood, former Reader's Digest editor-in-chief Jackie Leo and Richard F. Snow, former editor-in-chief of American Heritage magazine.

While Husni is skeptical about the magazine's future, media strategist Lou Ann Sabatier of Falls Church, Va., notes that the Post has a "brand aura" that has endured despite changes in owners and formats.

"I think there's a hunger for this," she said, referring to the Post's new perspective-driven approach. "In publishing, it's timing. I think the timing is very good for them."

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