Shelby Hodge's already made an impact on PaperCity online in her first month at the magazine. (Photo by Jenny Antill Clinton.)
Every month, PaperCity Magazine editor-in-chief and co-owner Holly Moore shares a few of her thoughts. This month, she turns her focus to PaperCityMag.com, the burgeoning digital arm of the company that’s seen traffic increase more than 700 percent in the last 18 months.
Our social events and society coverage is now in the very capable hands of the newest member of our team, Shelby Hodge, who joined PaperCity in October after seven years at CultureMap and 18 years at the Houston Chronicle. Shelby swung into the scene in the last decade of our city’s great reign of social and gossip columnists, which was evenly divided between the bloodletting rivalry of the Houston Post and Houston Chronicle.
Marge Crumbaker, Betsy Parish, and Frenchy Falik ruled the Post, while Maxine Mesinger (Miss Moonlight) was queen celebrity gossip columnist, writing her column Big City Beat for 35 years, with Shelby Hodge joining the Chronicle in 1991 through 2009 as society columnist. Maxine was gossip, and Shelby was society — there was a definite divide. When the Chronicle purchased the ailing Post in 1995 and unceremoniously shut it down, Betsy retired. Maxine and Shelby duked it out alone on the social stage, with Maxine swanning at Tony’s, coining the phrases: She snoops to conquer, swankienda, playcation, and famously, the Gaza Strip, the area at Tony’s where everyone wanted to be seated.
Shelby ran with the younger set that frequented La Griglia and Vallone’s, famously penning her New Year’s Eve lyrics naming all the names that mattered that year — if you weren’t in the lyrics, you might as well move. Those glory days of gossip and innuendo ended when Shelby left the Chronicle in 2009 to help launch the crazy-sounding online venture CultureMap — crazy like a fox, that is. Shelby’s deft rejiggering of society coverage for the Internet was a sensation.
Adopting breaking social coverage — yes, there is such a thing — as her beat, she tapped those computer keys till the wee hours, so we could all wake up and read about the glamorous goings-on from the night before. There was no more waiting until the Wednesday Chronicle.
In her new role as society and lifestyle editor at PaperCity, she’ll do the same, alongside her former CultureMap cohort Chris Baldwin, who rocked digital at CultureMap for five-plus years as publication’s first managing editor and made the move to PaperCity 18 months ago. Chris blasts out as many as 10 online stories a day, and he handles PaperCity’s SEO while tracking all those once-foreign-sounding metrics (pageviews, unique visitors and impressions) in Google analytics, making sure they are always ticking upward.
Shelby will also rule print coverage at PaperCity, giving Catherine D. Anspon and Anne Lee Phillips, who previously covered social, time to hone their own departments: Catherine, fine arts, and Anne Lee, home decoration. See it all at PaperCityMag.com every day and in print every month.
Postscript: PaperCityMag.com’s changes are not ending with the addition of Shelby Hodge to a team that already includes Digital Director Chris Baldwin and Assistant Digital Editor Jailyn Marcel. With Shelby elevating PaperCity’s coverage, the Parties Section has been renamed Society — and the new landing page better reflects and displays the scope of coverage you can find there.
PaperCity’s Style Section has also been named Fashion — and you’ll see an increase in profiles (and stories behind the store there) to go along with the breaking news on the latest and greatest from a realm that’s long been one of the magazine’s staples. And sometimes, you’ll just find a great cat story.