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How To Pitch: VIA

At AAA's Western-states mag, the freelance opportunities are as open as the road

- January 9, 2013

Circulation: 3 million
Frequency: Bimonthly
Special issues: "Great Getaways" in July/August

Background: VIA boasts one of the larger circulations in magazine publishing, but you're not alone if you've never heard of it. It's the magazine of the American Automobile Association for 4.2 million AAA members in Northern California, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, southern Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska.

Because VIA is published on AAA's dollar, you might expect a stiff safety manual, filled with lots of finger-waggings about seatbelts and dry automotive tips, and, yes, at its inception, that's what it was. Founded in 1917 as The California Motorist, it was originally a lobbying piece to build support for good roads. The magazine went through several incarnations, most recently as Motorland, before it was rechristened VIA in 1997. These days, the East Bay-based mag is an often stunning color glossy, a niche travel pub that mixes consumer-y how-to travel advice with lush features that highlight destinations around the globe, across the country, and, most often, just up the road.

Because the readership is so broad, VIA's content must appeal to the general interests of a wide swath of the population. "We avoid pieces that focus on specialized activities, like 'Rollerblading in Katmandu,' or on remote destinations like 'Luxury Resorts in Uruguay,'" VIA's editor, Anne McSilver, said. Instead, the mag tends to highlight places and attractions where any reader can go, particularly by car. Don't think VIA has entirely outgrown its automotive roots. After all, the feature that unifies the magazine's readership of AAA members is that they are all car owners -- a fact that frequently translates into content about road trips, local escapes or famous routes and boulevards....

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