Laas Turnbull says in an interview with Marketing magazine that he has big, aggressive plans for Eye Weekly, Torstar's paradoxically "alt" weekly.
Turnbull, who was at one time editor of the Globe and Mail ROB magazine and, after a detour into management at Brunico Communications (Strategy etc.) has now taken on as editor-in-chief the repositioning and top-to-bottom redesign of the publication, which will emerge as a weekly city magazine.
"I'm interested in something that's smart, open-minded, compelling and provocative," he said. "We collectively made the decision here that we're going to try and be as innovative as possible. I think what that means is we're going to be unafraid to make mistakes, we're going to take chances and we're going to [screw up] occasionally. But I'm hoping that being fearless and taking those chances will really set us apart and grab people's attention."
He said that the youth brand and the audience is very important to Torstar; the revitalized magazine will be aimed at 18- to 40-year-olds, "young, sophisticated urbanites", a much younger demographic than Torstar's flagship Toronto Star. The relaunch is planned for the spring, though incremental changes will be made over the intervening months. (Already, as can be seen by this week's issue above, Turnbull's influence and provocativeness is showing.)
"It's a nice story–reinvesting instead of cutting–which has been the trend across publishing for the last few years. We're understaffed at the moment. There's no way we're able to put this thing out every week and go through a process of change and produce something week-to-week that's provocative and smart and compelling without having more people."[For those with long memories, the Star launched a weekly glossy magazine venture called The City magazine in 1977. It was editorially fun and adventuresome, but it was a marketing disaster, principally because it had a huge circulation (going in every copy of the Sunday Star) and advertisers were never willing to pay what it was charging, based on that circulation. It was a mass general interest feature magazine in an era when that model was failing. Disclosure: latterly, I was the editor.]