Monday, February 19 , 2018, 2:22 am | Fair 48º


Sara Miller McCune, Marcia Meier Celebrated for Hearts of Communication

Third Annual Women of Achievement awards highlight community contributions of publisher and journalist

The Santa Barbara Chapter of the Association for Women in Communications held its third annual Women of Achievement awards luncheon Friday, paying tribute to its most recent honorees, Sara Miller McCune and Marcia Meier. The women were recognized for their contributions to communication within the Santa Barbara community and beyond.

Meier, an author who served as editorial page editor during her 10-year stint at the Santa Barbara News-Press during The New York Times’ ownership, said writing is an important way to communicate with and inspire people.

“Writing can be a conduit to your deepest hopes and dreams — a creative outlet that can change lives,” said Meier, who noted that her own daughter, Kendall, has become a talented writer herself. Since 2004, Meier has been part of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, where she has passed on her knowledge to her daughter and many others. Now she’s an award-winning writer and writing coach whose latest book, Navigating the Rough Waters of Today’s Publishing World, Critical Advice for Writers From Industry Insiders, has just been published by Quill Driver Books.

Miller McCune is well known in Santa Barbara, having been active in philanthropy around the community for many years. She and her late husband founded SAGE Publications, a book and journal publishing house, and she has been a publisher since 1966 along with her many forms of community involvement. In Santa Barbara, she founded and serves as president of the Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media and Public Policy, and was also one of the driving forces behind the restoration and reopening of The Granada as the theater’s chief financial officer and board member for the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts. A two-time cancer survivor, Miller McCune stressed the importance of hard work, friendship and community engagement.

In 2007, she established Miller-McCune Magazine, a bimonthly magazine and Web site aimed at getting research information to people making policy decisions. While the print edition has functioned as the publication’s flagship, the Web site allows much more information to be disseminated.

“The goals with the print version were to have a credible publication coming out every other month, to do it well — make it readable and eye catching, and to pay journalists fairly,” she said. “With the online version, we saw the opportunity to publish thousands more articles.”

Miller McCune said the Web site receives 250,000 to 400,000 unique visits per month.

“In time, we have the opportunity to double that,” she said. “It’s going to take some very intense work, but it’s beginning to go forward with a trial we’re doing with a company in New York.”

Miller McCune said the publication has been largely successful in reaching out to its target audience: a blend of business professionals, officials at various levels of government, and educated people passionate about progress and positive change. But she says there is room for improvement.

“I think we’ve made a good beginning with the magazine, but the motto I’ve lived by for a few decades is that always do more and always do better,” she said. “I don’t care if we’re not making billions of dollars — I want (the magazine) to be self-sustaining, and have made provisions for that in my estate planning — but it’s not about the money, it’s about the possibility of social change. We can never have a better society, but we can strive to have a better one.”

Referencing a study completed by a researcher linking street light installation with reductions in crime in certain areas, Miller McCune asserted that the magazine is an opportunity to help make the rubber meet the road.

“By using a magazine with enough readership, you can increase circulation of data and knowledge being generated to help people do their jobs better,” she explained.

In a recent On the Media column, Los Angeles Times reporter James Rainey said the Miller-McCune magazine tended to be on the wonky side of journalism, but Miller McCune responded that her staff has steered it away from that.

“I think it was (wonky) in the beginning, but most of the time I really enjoy it,” she said, pointing out that even though she is an avid reader with no less than 20 books by her bedside at any given time, she always reads each issue cover to cover before it goes to print.

“I think the reporters and staff are doing a good job. We can never be a perfect publication, but I expect them to get better with experience and time.”

Noozhawk staff writer Ben Preston can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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