When veteran journalist Susan Śmigielski Acker noticed that magazines based on the Southside don’t cover much on the Peninsula, she decided it was time to take her 16 years of freelance experience and create her own magazine that highlighted all the area has to offer.

Currently, VA Peninsula Media is the only locally owned media outlet dedicated to Peninsula life and leisure. It consists of a bi-monthly free magazine available in 80 locations in Hampton, Newport News, York County and Poquoson. There is also a weekly e-newsletter that provides the latest happenings in the area. It coincides with the website that is updated weekly.

Before the magazine became what it is today, Susan faced what became a challenge for many of our businesses. She’d gotten her business license is January 2020, right before COVID made its presence known. The pandemic blew a giant hole in her business model. Her magazine was about having fun and getting out on the Peninsula. The stay-at-home orders make that impossible.

Pandemic setbacks aside, Susan found tremendous success in growing the magazine’s distribution points. She purchased racks from The Health Journal who had 45 locations in the cities the magazine covers. She’s also had success with advertisers, growing from four businesses to three times that much. Susan had great reception from the community, as well. The magazine conducted restaurant awards and over 900 people nominated around 120 restaurants in ten diverse categories. When it came time to vote, nearly 2,500 people did so. The restaurant awards were a great way for Susan to connect with her community. She also connects with them by being apart of several Facebook community groups, where she shares articles that appear on their website.

Looking forward, Susan’s main goal for the magazine is to have Peninsula residents become more aware of the magazine and for it to become monthly. She also would like advertisers to realize that VA Peninsula Media is where people look for their fun in the community. Finally, she wants to create a top-notch news organization that covers Hampton, Newport News, York County, and Poquoson.

When asked what advice she has for anyone interested in starting their own business, Susan joked, “Don’t start just before a pandemic!” She also noted that you need to be prepared for a few things: more noes than yeses, to explain what you’re doing, and for various highs and lows (and even some tears). But above all, you need to believe in your product.

Written by Abby Schiano

Susan Śmigielski Acker

VA Peninsula Magazine (VA Peninsula Media, LLC)


134 Parker Ave. Newport News, VA 23606`

757 869 6952