It’s the relationship

If the uselessness of presses and broadcast towers in New Orleans is a demonstration that distribution is no longer king, here‘s a case in the argument that content is no longer king; relationships are: The Times wrote a feature about Cooking Light magazine holding supper parties, inspired by a reader who started this on her own (a la Meetups).

The gatherings, where readers cook meals using recipes from the magazine, then dine together, began in 1999 when Amy Fong, a reader in Alameda, Calif., organized the initial meetings on her own, without the magazine taking part.

Since 2000, when Cooking Light ran an article about the supper clubs, thousands of readers have formed hundreds of clubs, finding one another informally or using the message boards on the magazine’s Web site ( to connect. In addition to the ad hoc supper clubs, Cooking Light now plays host to more than a dozen formal events each year around the country, some of them sponsored with McCormick & Company, the maker of spices and seasonings, and all of them involving more than two dozen advertisers from A (Alaska seafood) to Z (the Zone Perfect diet plan).

The relationship the magazine has with readers — and, more important, that readers have with readers — is at least as valuable as the magazine’s content. That’s a lesson.