The popular Montgomery County media umbrella that produces Bethesda Magazine and the online daily news outlet Bethesda Beat is now going by a new name: MoCo360.
The change is not just about a name, but also about uniting people across Montgomery County, according to Sumindi Peiris, the president of Z-Pop Media, the publisher of MoCo360.
“MoCo360 is about encompassing everyone,” Peiris said.
That encompassing effort extends to the url, which is changing from bethesdamagazine.com to moco360.media.
The rebrand goal is to expand the message and purpose of the media outlet in order to serve and unite the greater Montgomery County area, she said.
Peiris said the idea for a name change came about because of confusion in the community about Bethesda Beat’s coverage area. While the Beat covered news throughout Montgomery County, there was some public misconception that the Beat was focused only on Bethesda. With this name change comes a commitment to enhancing coverage throughout Montgomery County and Upper Northwest D.C.
MoCo360’s slogan, “Circle up,” is a call to action, Peiris said.
“What we want to be is an indispensable one source for people who live in this county and work in this county,” Peiris said. “Our purpose is to really utilize our platform as a way to strengthen this community, to really empower individuals. And we do this through trustworthy journalism. We’re covering the depths of this community and highlighting the diversity and all the voices that this community represents. That’s why we’re here.”
Z-Pop Media conducted extensive readership and branding research to discover its audience in order to shape the rebrand, Peiris said.
“We did a really in-depth survey of our readers, and we found where the gaps are,” Peiris said. “One of the things I think this rebrand allows us to do is also kind of really take a pause and look at where we need to expand. We’ve added reporters, and we’re trying to take a look at all of the county.”
In 2022, the newsroom expanded from three to five reporters and launched two weekly newsletters, on education and politics.
The Bethesda Beat Politics Briefing and Bethesda Beat School Notes newsletters will still be produced weekly as the MoCo360 Politics Briefing and MoCo360 School Notes, and subscribed readers will still receive a daily newsletter highlighting the top stories of the day on MoCo360.
The print edition of Bethesda Magazine will continue to be published under its existing name.
“The magazine has its own identity, but stay tuned because we have some exciting things coming for the magazine as well,” Peiris said.
Susan and Steve Hull launched Bethesda Magazine out of their home in 2004, growing it into a bimonthly glossy known for its lifestyles and community coverage and its annual “Best of Bethesda” awards.
Seeking to fill a void in local daily news reporting in Montgomery County, the Hulls started Bethesda Beat in 2014. The outlet publishes news pertaining to government, politics, education, public safety, development, dining and more daily. It has received numerous awards for its breaking news and accountability reporting.
In 2015, Bethesda Magazine bought online news site Bethesda Now and folded it into Bethesda Beat, increasing the number of posts published on the site per day.
The Hulls sold the business to Scott and Jillian Copeland of Rockville in April 2021. The Copelands said they planned to rebrand the media company to better reflect Montgomery County.
“The reason that we originally bought the magazine was really to have an impact on the community in the most positive ways possible, connecting the community,” Scott Copeland said. “The opportunity to expand our footprint and our geography is most exciting, as well as reflecting the richly diverse population of Montgomery County.”
The MoCo360 website will be home to the daily news coverage that Bethesda Beat produced, as well as content originally published in Bethesda Magazine.
“I take the work our reporters do very seriously. Our reporters work incredibly hard,” Copeland said. “In a time when there’s such polarization and misinformation and disinformation, it’s really, really beholden to us to do this work.”