Friday, March 31, 2006

Geist on copyright

A useful post on the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) blog, useful that is for those of us unable to attend the Hart House Lecture in Toronto on Thursday night. Professor Michael Geist was talking about copyright. PWAC executive director John Degen (for whom copyright talk seems to be meat and drink these days) asked Geist why copyright should extend one day after the writer/creator is dead and got an interesting response.

Quote, unquote

“It’s totally a tradition at this point. I don’t think the Junos are that out of touch with reality. Are they the best, most exciting, most ground-breaking or most innovative? Absolutely not. But they do represent a lot of the big-name performers representative of what the average Canadian music fan is interested in.”
-- Aaron Brophy, editor of Canadian music magazine Chart, quoted in Metro commenting on perennial criticism about the Juno awards.

CMAJ editors speak, guardedly

For the first time, the fired editors of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) have spoken publicly, although they declined to speak in detail about why they were dismissed. At a public lecture at McMaster University on Thursday, as reported in the Globe and Mail, Dr. John Hoey and Anne Marie Todkill spoke about the level of controls publishers and editors and the editorial board should have in deciding what gets published.

Dr. Hoey said: "The owners get to pick the editor, but after that they should leave the editor alone." He spoke in favour of an open-source, online model such as the San Francisco Public Library of Science. "They have the advantage of not being dependent on advertising dollars."

Ms Todkill said: "The purpose of a general medical journal is to tackle a wide range of issues without feeling that there will be some level of censorship. Otherwise, you get self-censorship, then all is lost.

The CMAJ crisis blew up almost immediately after the Canadian Medical Association privatized its medical journal and hired Graham Morris as publisher. (But one of the issues that led to the firing of the editors was a controversial article about privacy concerns surrounding pharmacists demands for personal data in order to prescribe the so-called "morning after" pill. The CMA tried to have the article dropped or significantly amended after complaints from the pharmacists association. )

Since Dr. Hoey and Ms Todkill were fired, most of the editorial board has resigned and a group of doctors who are frequent contributors to the journal have said they will place their articles elsewhere.

UPDATE: The Right Honourable Antonio Lamer has announced a blue-ribbon panel of people to help him review the governance of the CMAJ and to provide recommendations "to further the CMAJ's continued commitment to editorial independence and maintaining excellence in reporting on the science and art of medicine."

The panel, which is to report by June 26, includes:
  • Dr. John Dossetor, the current Ombudsman-Ethicist of the CMAJ
  • Lise Bissonnette, President and DEO of the Quebec National Library and Archives
  • Richard Van Loon, former President of Carleton University
  • Dr. Charmaine Roye, an obstetrician-gynecologist and member of the CMA board
  • Larry Mohr, Vice-President of CMA Holdings, which owns the CMAJ, and President and CEO of Practice Solutions (a commercial venture of the CMA)
  • Dr. Haile Debas, Professor of Surgery and Executive Director, Global Health Sciences at the University of California at San Francisco
Anyone with comments to make to the panel can e-mail it at of telephone them at (613) 566-0552.
"In the interim until the panel reports," the press release stated, "the relationship between the CMA, CMA Holdings and the Journal will be governed by nine editorial principles adapted largely from similar principles govering the relationship between the American Medical Association and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The fire principle states: The CMA/CMAH recognizes CMAJ as an editorially independent, peer-reviewed journal and accepts and respects the necessity of edtiorial independence of the Editor-in-Chief. The Editor-in-Chief assumes total responsibility for the editorial content in CMAJ."
Which makes an outsider wonder why this brouhaha blew up in the first place...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Edmonton publisher says it's hypocritical not to hire locally

Ruth Kelly, the Edmonton publisher of Alberta Venture and other magazines has critized the local Edmonton Economic Development Corporation for hiring a U.S. firm to produce a promotional publication for the city. The EEDC hired Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Journal Communications Inc. to produce the publication, which is intended to promote Edmonton as a good place to locate businesses.

"I find it hypocritical of EEDC, whose sole mandate is to support local business," Kelly was quoted on Monday in an article in the Edmonton Journal (no relation).

Levant appeals for help on legal fees

A complaint has been lodged at the Alberta Human Rights Commission against the Western Standard and Ezra Levant, its publisher, over its publishing of the so-called "Danish cartoons". Levant is contemptuous of the case and the complainant (a Calgary man called Imam Syed Soharwardy) but says in the magazine's blog and a fundraising letter to supporters that, even if they win, it will cost them $75,000 to defend it.

The big dogs muscle in with PMB results

Canadian titles have been shouldered aside for top spot in readership -- readers per copy (RPC), a measure of efficiency -- by two mammoth U.S. titles in the 2006 Print Measurement Bureau results released today. The topline readership report is available free online. The study is based on 25,165 interviews conducted over 24 months (October 2003 - September 2005).

Top spot, with 23.7 readers per copy, goes to Sports Illustrated, which is in the full study for the first time and has a measured readership (12+) of 1.96 million.

magazine has 20.2 and a total readership of 3.7 million.

Among other interesting results:
  • Outdoor Canada, which remains the Canadian (if no longer over-all) RPC leader, had 20.5 last year and has declined to 18.9. Its total readership is now 1.7 million, compared to 1.8 million last year (this, despite a small increase in circulation);
  • Maclean's magazine, which had 6.3 RPC last year, took a significant jump to 7.1. Total readership has increased by 145,000 since last year's results, despite cutting circulation by 25,000; (since 2002 the magazine circulation has declined by 90,000 and its total readership by 203,000);
  • Flare and its perpetual rival Fashion are in lockstep. This time, Flare has 11 RPC compared with 10.9 last time, and total readership of 1.81 million compared with 1.8; Fashion has 13, the same as 2005 and total readership of 1.98 million, compared with 1.94.
  • Chatelaine has improved its RPC to 6.4 from 6.0 in 2005; total readership has increase 166,000, despite a decline of 18,000 in circulation;
  • The top French language title is Dernière Heure , with 19.4 , up from 17.1 last year. However this year, its total circulation dropped from 37,000 to 26,000 and its total readership by almost 128,000 to 504,000.
UPDATE: Media In Canada provides its own report on the PMB results, understandably concentrating on total readership results rather than RPC. The latter, we think, is a better indicator of both readership and efficiency in reaching those readers.

Nevertheless, here are some of the top total readership figures for 2006, in descending order by language:

English (millions, 12+)
Reader's Digest 7.2
Chatelaine 4.4
People 3.7
Canadian Living 4.4
Canadian Geographic 4.1
What's Cooking* 3.5
Maclean's 2.9
Time 2.8
TV Guide 2.6
Canadian Gardening 2.4
Food & Drink 2.2
TV Times 2.1

French (millions, 12+)
Coup de pouce 1.4
Châtelaine 1.3
7 Jours 1.3
Sélection du Reader's Digest 1.3
L’actualité 1.1
Touring (Fr & Eng) 1.1
TV 7 Jours / TV hebdo 1.0

FURTHER UPDATE: Reader's Digest was not slow off the mark taking credit for being the "most-read magazine in Canada". They have a paid circulation of almost 1 million copies in English and get 7.2 million readers.

STILL FURTHER UPDATE: Maclean's's lead columnist Paul Wells triumphally interprets the results as vindication and as serving up an implicit dish of crow for Professor Christopher Dornan of Carleton, who had predicted "disaster" from the magazine's new editorial direction.

MORE OF AN UPDATE: Maclean's reported more than the topline numbers in its press release Thursday. The topline is publicly available. Demographic breakdowns of sub-categories are available only to PMB subscribers. Here is what the Maclean's release said:
"According to PMB, Maclean's posted readership gains in key areas including a 10% increase in the 18 to 34 year age category and a 7% increase in urban markets based on English adults 18+."
It should be pointed out that Maclean's was never very strong in the younger age groups, so a 10% increase, while good, is on a relatively small base. Of more importance is the increase in urban markets, which are critically important to advertisers.

*These are one-year results only, for the custom-published magazine for Kraft, produced by Redwood Custom Communications.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Maclean's sub price to rise?

In a story that was otherwise light on information, Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star interviewed Ken Whyte, the Publisher and Editor of Maclean's and we found out that Whyte would like to increase subscriptions by 17% and charge $34.95.

Oil? Check. Money? Check. Magazines? Uh-huh

In case you missed it, there were a couple of magazine mentions in the celebratory piece by Anne Kingston in Maclean's, about boomtown Calgary .

The story referred to a major fundraiser for the reopening of the Grand Theatre, the new home of Theatre Junction, a local performance company:

"As with everything in Calgary these days, oil money runs through the project. The first to donate was Jackie Flanagan, a local pistol and the publisher of Alberta Views magazine. Flanagan is also the ex-wife of Allan Markin, the chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Limited, a guy from a working-class neighbourhood who helped turn a junior resource penny stock into a major player with a market cap of $35 billion."
A little later in the story,

"Residents joke that the city's new prosperity can be measured by the influx of glossy Calgary-centric style magazines filled with stuff to buy. Vince Wong, co-owner of the popular club Bungalow, is part of a team about to launch the Canadian version of Ego, a Miami-based free city magazine distributed in boutiques and hotels. The plan is to begin with a Calgary version, then roll it out in other Canadian cities. "Calgary is a city on steroids," Wong says. "I don't want to be anywhere else. It's non-stop." "

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New finance chief at St. Joe's

Bill Belgue has been appointed Vice President, Finance and Information Technology for St. Joseph Media. With this appointment, President Donna Clark has essentially made over the company at least as far as its key management positions go. Belgue, a chartered accountant, worked for CSS Stelar PLS, a sports and entertainment marketing company, overseeing finance and information technology (the job he'll be doing now for St. Joe's). At one time he worked for Ogilvy and Mather as Director of Finance.

Quote, unquote

As has been noted before in this space, I hate stupid people and publications that pander to them. So I guess it saddens me when a venerable title like Business Week temporarily lets down its guard, weighing down an otherwise lean editorial mix with fluff about "culinary travel" and waterproof, genetically modified super-dungarees. Last I checked, there were one or two lifestyle magazines on the ol' rack; BW would clearly be better served by leaving the pap to those purveyors of low thought and getting back to, uh, business.
Larry Dobrow, columnist, Media Post, writing about the "Top Performers Special" issue of Business Week magazine.

Is this a bear market for celebrity titles?

If he's right, it's not very good news for the recently launched and incipient Canadian celebrity titles. Kurt Anderson has a provocative piece in New York magazine which posits that a decades-long, ever-upward arc of public interest in celebrities may have peaked and be in decline.

Ontario gives $631,861 to its magazines

Mastheadonline has reported (sub. req'd) funding details for The Ontario Media Development Corporation 2005 program for magazines, whose applications closed September 30, 2005. A total of $631,861 was distributed.

Alternatives Inc. - Alternative Journal magazine -$25,000
C.E. BIZ Corp. - C.E.Biz magazine - $25,000
Canadian Art Foundation - Canadian Art magazine - $25,000
Canadian Geographic Enterprises - Canadian Geographic magazine - $25,000
Canadian Independent Film & Television - Take One magazine- $25,000
Canadian Newcomer Magazine Inc. - Canadian Newcomer magazine - $25,000
Canadian Review of Books Ltd. - Books in Canada magazine - $25,000
Corporate Knights Inc. - Corporate Knights magazine - $25,000
Explore Media Ltd. - Explore magazine - $25,000
Gripped Inc. - Gripped magazine - $25,000
Harworth Publishing - SpaLife magazine- $10,000
JM Publishing - DIY Boat Owner magazine - $22,670
Jon R Group - Visitor Guide magazine - $23,282
Media Matter Incorp. - Collision Repair magazine - $17,060
No Fear Publishing - Fab magazine - $10,000
North Island Publishing – Masthead magazine - $21,474
Outpost Inc. - Outpost magazine - $25,000
Promotive Communications Inc. - Biotechnology Focus magazine - $24,375
Sky News Inc. - Sky News magazine - $15,000
Solstice Publishing - Ski Canada magazine - $25,000
Verge Magazine Inc. - Verge magazine - $17,300
Youth Culture Inc. - Vervegirl magazine - $15,000

Monday, March 27, 2006

Cargo to fold: it seemed like a good idea at the time

The shopping magazine for men, Cargo, is to cease publication with its May issue. Charles H. Townsend, the President and CEO of Condé Nast Publications said on Monday: "This was a difficult decision. Although initial readership and advertising response were encouraging, we now believe the market will not support our business expectations."

Cargo was launched in March of 2004 on a wave of enthusiasm engendered by the runaway success of Lucky magazine. Its initial ratebase was 300,000 and its current ratebase is 400,000 and the idea never really caught fire. Sceptics had said that men may like to shop (not) but wouldn't like to read about it. Apparently, the sceptics were right.

Subscribers will receive GQ magazine for the remainder of their subscriptions.

UPDATE: Some media buyers expressed surprise -- that the ad pages had been respectable, if not stellar. One of the speculations was that the increasing number of men's or "lad" books were already doing much of what Cargo was trying to claim for itself. To read more, from Media Post, go here.

They walked off the shelves

The right subject, the right image, the right strategy and you can sell an awful lot of magazines. Mastheadonline (sub requ'd) reports that the October 2005 issue of Canadian House & Home, featuring the home of Wayne and Janet Gretzky, sold a record 97,000 copies on the newsstand. Of course, technically, it's not a Canadian home, but for fans of inside peeks at the lifestyles of the rich and famous, it was apparently irresistible.) Cannily, the magazine raised its cover price starting with that issue.

Cover nip and tuck

What's real, what's faked, what's retouched? We've never seen it demonstrated so well as with this Swedish campaign that shows the "enhancement" of a cover model. Thanks to this blog for adding Canadian Magazines to its list and thereby introducing us to this demo.

Mochila syndication may include ads

So far, there's no indication a Canadian magazine group has signed up with the fledgling syndication service Mochila, but it seems likely that one will, sooner rather than later. It has an irresistible allure: the service is free; magazines (and newspapers and other media) can buy content a la carte; or they can accept advertising attached to the content, get the content for free and share in the ad revenue. Mochila (pronounced Mo-CHEE-luh -- which is Spanish for the pannier bags carried by Pony Express riders) is restricting itself to news and text, for now, but will probably add audio and video later.

According to an article in the New York Times, Mochila's technology using extensible markup language, known as XML and allows members to track their content and the number of page views once it is sold.

Content sellers set their own prices and specify to whom they will sell (presumably not direct competitors). Mochila makes its money by taking a percentage (said to be 50%+) on every transacation.

What this will mean to traditional syndication services such as Canadian Press and the Associated Press is anyone's guess. On a unit basis, these annual-fee-based services may still be a better buy for those that use a large volume of stories. And there's the matter of trust, which the traditional wire services have with their customers. But equally, Mochila's model may be the first of many. And what this may mean to freelancer writers who want to keep track of who is reselling their stuff and where, that's a good question, too.

Hachette Filipacchi (Car & Driver, Road and Track) the MediaNews Group and Mansueto Ventures, the owner of Fast Company and Inc. magazines have so far signed up, as has Metro International, which publishes free Metro newspapers in 19 countries.

It's about Time

The March 27 U.S. edition of Time magazine may be historic because a momentous thing has happened: Time has admitted that global warning exists. It's hard to assess the impact that the Time capitulation on global warming may have, but it's likely big. This is the granddaddy of "mainstream media", one which has given acres of space to the on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand kind of reporting that has had the effect of giving credibility to the deniers and at least camouflaging the undeniable science. (Remember that the U.S. Senate defeated the Kyoto Accord 95-0 in 1997).

Now, Time's message couldn't be more stark: Be worried, be VERY worried. It acknowledges that the argument about this subject has essentially ended, has reached a "tipping point". Of course, whether this will now lead to drastic and immediate action is another question. But when Time says it's so, captains of industry and politicians pay attention and middle America may get onside. Even President George Bush may acknowledge that something is wrong.

Time Canada generally goes its own way from the U.S. edition of the magazine when it comes to cover stories, but this occasionally has a curious side-effect. The global warming story is not featured as Time Canada's March 27 cover story; rather, there is a worthwhile, interesting, but essentially timeless feature on the effects of the wired world on the younger generation. The global warming story by James Kluger is carried inside.

Bonnie on the spot

Every week, the New York Times magazine's Deborah Solomon takes a picture and asks some probing questions of the great and the good. This week, she asked Bonnie Fuller, who is editorial director of American Media, publishers of Star and the like. (Fuller has written a book celebrating having it all, called "The Joys of Much Too Much.") Fuller should know, having cut quite a swath through the U.S. magazine world, as editor of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, US and Marie Claire after getting her start in Canada at the Toronto Star and Flare magazine.

Among questions and answers about her house husband, about greed, her political registration, her views on celebrity journalism etc. she was asked what magazines she subscribes to and she said: "I don't subscribe to any magazines. Subscriptions come too late for me, and I am too impatient. I have to get my magazines at the newsstand."

[Photo by Christian Oth for The New York Times]

Arms and the mag

If you want to look into a fairly specialized corner of the magazine business in Canada, you need look no farther than Canadian Defence Review, published by Synergistic Publications of Markham, Ontario (I daresay one of the few Canadian magazines with a "branch office" in Switzerland).

For a special introductory rate of $29, you can get six issues to read about military hardware and software and contracts and the doing of the Department of National Defence. You'll be in the select company of about 9,000 military personnel and defence contractors who are the qualified audience of this trade book.

Where else would you learn that Guy Lafleur, former winger for the Montreal Canadiens, will take on the responsibilities as Honorary Colonel of the 12 Radar Squadron?

Or about the advances in pilotless drone surveillance planes?

Or about tactical lift helicopters and the latest pronouncements of General Rick Hillier?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Non-profit route suggested for medical journal

An interesting article in the Globe and Mail on Saturday by Paul Webster suggested that there is a movement afoot to get away from having Canada's leading medical journal run by by an association with a vested and, in the case of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), a commercial interest.

"The time has come, many researchers say, to rethink how to disseminate Canadian medical research. Support is growing for a fully independent, not-for-profit journal, free from owners with vested interests, and not reliant on advertising income.

"One of the ideas researchers are discussing is modelled on a series of journals published by Public Library of Science (PLoS), a San Francisco-based non-profit publisher launched in 2000 with support from almost 34,000 scientists and start-up financing from private foundations. PloS Biology, the most successful of the six Public Library of Science journals, already boasts having achieved more than twice as much measurable impact among scientists as the CMAJ does."

Read the rest of the article here and read past articles on this blog about the Canadian Medical Association and its journal.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Quote, unquote

"So we're looking at a steady decline over a long period, and many of the geniuses who run our business believe they have a solution. Our product isn't selling as well as it used to, so they think we need to cut the number of reporters, cut the space devoted to the news and cut the amount of money used to gather the news, and this will solve the problem. For some reason, they assume people will want to buy more newspapers if they have less news in them and are less useful to people. I'm just amazed the Bush administration hasn't named the whole darn bunch of them to run FEMA yet."
-- Columnist MollyIvins, commenting on the propensity of newspaper owners to cut staff in the face of eroding business, mainly due to the internet.
"I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying," she said, " -- it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Will the honour staunch the bleeding?

The very story that apparently precipitated the firing of the two top editors at the Canadian Medical Association Journal has resulted in the publication receiving a nomination for the ultra prestigious Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service. The investigative piece was about Canadian pharmacies requiring private and personal information before selling woman the Plan B contraceptive pill. Undercover operatives were sent across the country sampling the use of a screening form created by the Canadian Pharmacists Association. Protests from the Canadian Pharmacists Association in advance of publication resulted in demands for modification of the story and one thing led to another.

Alcohol ads give magazines a headache

Whenever we think Canada is incredibly uptight, we need only look south of the border where magazine publishers are scratching their heads trying to figure out how -- or whether -- to strip school library copies of their liquor advertising. It was reported in a recent story in Advertising Age.

As of July 1, the Distilled Spirits Council is tightening its ad standards, particularly for five major titles, including Time and Newsweek. Unless Time can figure out how to send thousands of school library subscription copies without, for instance, an ad for Three Olives vodka on the back cover, it may lose the business altogether.

The Council told its members to “refrain” from taking the more expensive OBC, IBC and IFC ad positions in Time, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report and People unless they comply and remove them from school library copies.

George Janson, managing partner and director of print, Mediaedge:cia, said: “It’s almost like liquor is becoming the new tobacco.”

Quote, unquote

So during times of celebrity onslaught, as Sir Paul McCartney and Lady Heather tour the ice floes, and Brigitte makes her wintery pilgrimage, the Canadian media has done an exceedingly solid job of balancing the farce with the facts.
-- Ceri Au, in the MediaScout column of Maisonneuve magazine

Mobile (yawn) magazines? Maybe later

Media Industry Newsletter (MIN), a small but mighty publication, well respected for its intelligence gathering abilities, asked U.S. magazine publishers about their plans for mobile versions of their titles. Their attitude? Lukewarm at best.

Despite the hype, says MIN, publishers' expectations and plans to go mobile remain modest. The few magazine brands that already see demand for mobile extensions of their content are very enthusiastic about the platform and claim early success. "But for the most part, print executives complain that unclear revenue models, complex uncommunicative relationships with carriers, and a dearth of audience demand leave them in wait-and-see mode."

There were 43 respondents to the survey, among them major consumer and B2B publishers. According to their responses only a quarter now have some kind of mobile application. Many said they see little demand from their readers.

Fit to be tried

Gripped Inc. has launched a new bimonthly magazine for triathletes and those who wish they were. It's called Triathlon Magazine Canada.

"With so many successful national and international Canadian triathletes, we felt it was the right time for a Canadian magazine that would recognize and reflect the popularity of the triathlon movement in Canada,” said Editor Kevin Mackinnon, himself a well-known triathlete. “By providing a Canadian voice for the sport we hope to help fuel the growth in popularity of triathlons in Canada.”

Triathlon Magazine Canada will provide coast to coast coverage of national and international triathlon events, profile triathlon personalities, providing the latest training tips and review the newest and best tri-gear available in Canada. A six-issue sub is $20.95.

PayPal to offer text payment system

PayPal, the secure online payment system, a division of online auctioneer EBay is going to offer a text message payment system that will, in effect, turn your cellphone into an electronic wallet. PayPal Mobile is going to be rolled out in the next couple of weeks in the U.S., Canada and Britain very soon (bloggers and others noticed the beta test on the PayPal website). What does this mean to magazines? Well consider a scenario where teenaged Mindy is looking through her copy of Fashion 18 and sees a cute skirt. She buys it by punching in a text message on her phone. Awesome. And consider if we could get single copy buyers to read a magazine and let their fingers do the walking to pay for a subscription...

The webbish are coming! the webbish are coming!

Alan Rusbridger, the Editor of the Guardian in Britain, made a speech to the Royal Society of the Arts in which he told a simple truth: that the web is better at a lot of things than newspapers are. Naturally, his speech was widely and completely blogged. You can read a summary of it here. Essentially, Rusbridger says that papers which pretend the internet doesn't exist (and which ones would those be, exactly?) will fall off a cliff. The Guardian may be able to say this because, of all the British papers (and a good many in North America) it was an early adopter of the new technology, starting its own blogs and online news aggregations.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

CM Mag: Rogues, Auto-renewals, Single-copy management

CM (Circulation Management) magazine has some interesting newsey bits online at the moment, worthy of note to circulators (and the rest of youse):

1) Rogue sellers: Magazines whose subscriber lists have been obtained by third parties through nefarious channels, and whose renewals are being solicited and cleared through subscription agencies. (I've also noticed a "Subscriber Alert" ad that Harper's magazine has been running in its pages lately to this effect.) Have any of you publishers suffered from this yet in Canada?

2) Auto-renewals: "Time Inc. agreed yesterday to settle with the attorneys general of 23 states in the case brought against it for automatically renewing the subscriptions of 108,000 of its readers in what was alleged to be a misleading context." See in particular the provisions for clearer disclosure, agreed to in the settlement.

3) Newsstand sell-throughs: Jim Gillis, COO of wholesaler Source Interlink, opines that if those responsible for servicing the retail accounts could "look at which magazines are selling in which chains down to the individual store level, the sell-through would improve dramatically." (Duh!)

Transcon jumps into free classifieds

Transcontinental Media wasn't kidding when it said that its future was digital; it has announced the launch of a new, French language, classified listings portal for Quebec that will allow free postings of up to 1,000 words of text, plus photos, live bidding, auctioning, e-mail alerts and reporting and instant PDF conversion for posting to bulletin boards. It will go live next month. No word on whether a similar portal en anglais will follow.

This of course raises the question about what impact this is going to have on the 63 print weeklies that Transcontinental publishes and its stable of magazines. Whether the initiative is a pre-emptive strike or a response to already-eroding classified business is not clear. It may also be one of the "issues" upon which departed former President André Préfontaine and Transcontinental CEO Luc Desjardins agreed to disagree...

Betting on da liddle guy

The two men definitely share a political toughness in common, but in a bare-knuckle fight my money would still be on Mr. Chrétien. Somehow, it is hard to imagine Mr. Harper wearing terminator sunglasses and throttling wooly-hatted demonstrators who get in his way.
-- Embassy magazine columnist Sean Durkan, compares the former, and current, prime ministers.

Awards on the other side of the pond

166 magazines from 38 publishing companies made the shortlist for the Periodical Publishers Association awards in Great Britain. You can go here to read about it and see the whole shortlist.

Latest ABC data shows only Globe makes headway

The latest Audit Bureau of Circulations data on Toronto-based newspapers has come out and shows that only the Globe and Mail has any joy at all. This is particularly of interest to all the magazine publishers who rely on the Globe's distribution to get their controlled titles to market.

Average % circulation gains (losses) 2005

M – F



Globe and Mail




National Post




Toronto Star




Toronto Sun




Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations

Who owns our creativity?

Magazine people in Toronto will be interested in this year's Hart House lecture, which will be held on Thursday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. The speaker this year is Michael Geist, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. Tickets are free, but the lecture usually sells out. They are available through the U of T box office or online.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Walrus hire

In what looked like a kind of reverse brain drain, a respected art editor from The Brooklyn Rail, was nabbed by The Walrus. The Rail announced that Daniel Baird "whose sparkling insights and tireless commitment helped put the Rail on the map in the art world, has moved on to become the Arts and Literature editor of The Walrus, an excellent Canadian magazine of ideas based in Toronto." Actually, it's not such a leap for Baird, who is a director of Toronto's Red Head Gallery, at 401 Richmond Street and had been dividing his time between Toronto and New York.

Let me tell you the secret of my success, young fella

At the recent 2nd anniversary bash for the Western Standard magazine, hosted by Lord and Lady Black of Crossharbour at their Toronto pile, there was a close encounter between Dose publisher Noah Godfrey and the former owner of Saturday Night and the National Post, Conrad Black. (Many scribblers and starboard-side wannabes gaped at the opulent surroundings, which are but remnants of Lord Black's demolished empire.) Young Noah now runs more publications in Canada (1) than Lord Black (0). For more swell photos, go here.

The shutout blues

Occasionally, resentment bubbles to the surface about Canada's National Magazine Awards and who wins, who loses, who gets nominated, who doesn't. Apparently the same resentment and puzzlement is felt in the U.S. about the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) National Magazine Awards. For example, a short item in, asking why Hachette Filippachi magazines such as Elle and Premiere seem to be routinely left out of the nominations.

"What, exactly, does the American Society of Magazine Editors have against Hachette Filipacchi Media?" asks Jeff Bercovici in his Memo Pad column.

One argument made is that working against them is the nature of the HF titles -- mostly enthusiast and shelter titles. But this is dismissed since other such titles from other publishers make the cut. Another argument is the cost-conscious nature of HF, with corners cut on paper and production values, and high advertising ratios."

Even more interesting is that some editors get rewards for their award-winning ways: Wenner Media (Rolling Stone, US) contracted with Men's Journal editor Michael Caruso that they would pay $5,000 for every nomination and $10,000 for every win. (The only reason we know is that the departing Caruso sued last fall and the arrangement was revealed in court documents.)

Waiting for readership

NOTE: This post has been updated.

In less than 10 days (March 30) the 2006 topline results and the underlying detail only available to subscribers) will be released by the Print Measurement Bureau (PMB). One thing's sure: not everybody will be happy. In the rolling, two-year study of 24,000 respondents across the country,some magazines lose ground and others gain in total readership.

It has been a few years now since PMB changed to a "Recent Reading" methodology as opposed to the "through the book" method. This was considered to be more closely comparable (in an apples to apples sense) to what competing media were doing. But it also means that it is more likely that respondents will be included as readers for simply recognizing the name plate of a magazine. This gives a significant "incumbent" effect, whereby well-known brands benefit, as do magazines that strategically promote themselves, with everything from contests to billboards. It also means that a magazine can claim readers simply by buying prime newsstand real estate.

Still, there is no question that PMB has become the "gold standard" of the business, against which all other magazines are measured. It must be remembered that the number of titles participating, which made up mostly of largest and best-known national magazines, form a very small part of the total number of titles in the industry. But when it comes to guesstimating their own reader-per-copy figures, most non-PMB magazines compare themselves to similar titles inside the study.

Agencies and big advertisers tend to put most of their magazine advertising dollars into titles that not only reach their target audience, but make themselves easily measurable by paying to belong to PMB. This is so much so that magazines which were previously not in PMB (like Cottage Life) have more or less been yielded and done it, even though membership comes with an average $20,000 membership fee. Fees are based on a circ, frequency and page rate formula. A big magazine such as Chatelaine pays $60,000; a typical monthly with a page rate of $7,600 is charged $14,000. A 6x magazine with a $10,000 page rate would pay $8,900.

Like many such benchmarking systems, PMB can dispense fairly rough justice: in some cases, finding a magazine has 20 readers per copy (making it extremely efficient at reaching a target audience) or less than 1 (usually when a magazine has a huge, sometimes controlled, circulation and has nowhere else to go to find its audience).

PMB doesn't claim to speak to the quality of the audience's engagement with the editorial, mind you. It is a commercial tool, and an important one. It can tell you who reads, and what canned soup they buy, but raw readership and buying habits arent 't everything. Whether inside, playing the game, or outside, being influenced by the outcome, magazines would do well to remember that.

Next week, we'll do our best to give you those important topline numbers and some analysis.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Follow the money at the CMA...

Well, well, well...remember the previous item about money and the Canadian Medical Association? It has been reported by Mastheadonline that the CMA has added a couple of key managers from St. Joseph Media in order to launch a consumer medical title later this year.

The man at the eye of the storm at the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), Graham Morris, President of CMA Media, has hired a couple of heavy hitters -- Steve Ball, formerly publisher of Ottawa Magazine, as vice-president at CMA Media, and Blair Graham, formerly executive vice-president, corporate sales at St. Joseph Media (he left last week), to be CMA Media’s director of sales.

Ball will be publisher of Canadian Health, a glossy, 60,000-circ bimonthly to launch this September. Canadian Health will be distributed to 26,000 doctors’ offices across the country and will be edited by Diana Swift, formerly editor-in-chief at Canadian Family and before that a senior editor at The Medical Post.

The money elephant in the corner

The Globe and Mail today somehow managed to write a very long editorial about affairs at the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) without ever once mentioning money. And, as has been said before here, this whole brouhaha pivots around the decision earlier this year by the Canadian Medical Association to privatize its prestigious medical journal. That's why Graham Morris was hired as Publisher. That's why the pressure is on not to cheese off the pharmaceutical companies who buy advertising. That's why the Editor and Senior Editor were expendable, since they clearly didn't subscribe to the program of commercialization which was so at odds with what a peer-reviewed, trusted, medical journal does. That's why the editorial board resigned and why they, too, were treated as so much flotsam by the President of the CMA. That's why the even-more-prestigious New England Journal of Medicine published a very strongly worded piece about the whole affair. To repeat, when they say it's the principle, not the's the money.

Quote, unquote

"It's easy to give the magazine away or to give an ad away. But it's not business. You have to bite the bullet and accept that maybe somebody won't buy your magazine for what it's worth. The second and more insidious consideration is the erosion of journalistic value. The content, the work, the ink between the ads is meaningful. When we don’t project that as meaningful, when we're not passionate about it, when we don’t attribute to our journalism a sense of sacredness, we cannot blame the readers for holding us disposable."
-- Bob Guccionne Jr., publisher of Discover magazine, son of the founder of Penthouse. This is part of his answer to one of five questions put to him in an interview published by Advertising Age.

Small world, design dept.

Likely it is simple coincidence, but The Wayward Reporter blog points out a curious similarity between the March 13 issue of Maclean's and the cover of John Duffy's recent book about politics, Fights of Our Lives. Here are the two covers.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Magazine a bottle

There is nothing that cannot be done differently, or sometimes better and here is an idea that a young woman came up with at Modern Media Concepts in Melbourne, Australia that now delivers 150,000 copies of a purse-sized, 32-page, full-colour mini-magazine attached to a bottle of water. It's turned out to be such a nifty idea that iLove magazine is well on its way to being one of Australia's largest circulation women's titles.

Transcontinental's challenges

An analysis is the Montreal Gazette says that Transcontinental Inc. founder and chairman Remi Marcoux has his work cut out for him in maintaining his legacy: "It's been a pretty good run," said the article. "But of late, Transcontinental has been taken hostage by the rising Canadian dollar and faces new challenges from the digitization of content."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Majority of CMAJ editorial board quits

Fourteen of the 19 members of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) editorial board have resigned. See online story at the Globe and Mail and earlier posts in this blog. Here is the story tonight from the perspective of the Toronto Star.

Front Page

The March issue of controlled monthly The Jewish magazine has a cover story on Steve Page of the Barenaked Ladies and a thumbnail on the cover of its special section inside on kids' camps, fronted by a joyful tumble of young campers.

Now maybe it's just us, but we'd have played up the attractive young people rather than the somewhat dour, intimidating, unsmiling (isn't he an entertainer?) Page, even if the coverline promises us provocatively that we'll get The Barenaked Truth.

The Jewish Magazine, which was founded in 1995, says it is the only Hebrew/English magazine of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area and claims 35,000 readers for its print edition and 40,000 readers from its online edition.

E-paper, read all about it

The current edition of Backbone magazine contains an interesting article on e-paper.

Where editor fired

It has been reported by Mastheadonline that Kisha Ferguson has been fired as Editor of St. Joseph Media's Where Toronto magazine, after about 18 months on the job; she is replaced by Toronto freelancer Anne Gibson. Ferguson, it may be remembered, was one of two founders of Outpost magazine (with Chris Frey) but left to pursue other opportunities. Ferguson got her job at Where after the firing of her predecessor.

Atlantic nominated for 8 Ellies in 7 categories

Only 25 magazines based outside of New York made the cut in this year's U.S. National Magazine Awards. Nominations for the 115 finalists were released this morning, with The Atlantic leading the field with 8 nominations in 7 categories. For full details of the nominees, go here.

First-time finalists include online players McSweeney's,, Conde Nast Publications', as well as Rodale’s Backpacker, Hearst’s Town & Country Travel and the recently shuttered Legal Affairs.

There were 1,643 entries submitted by 356 print and online publications.

The general-excellence nominees for titles with circulation between 1 million and 2 million are ESPN The Magazine; Time Inc.’s Fortune; Martha Stewart Living from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia; and The New Yorker and Vogue, both from Conde Nast.

The Ellies (so named because winning titles receive a "stabile" of an elephant by sculptor Alexander Calder) will be named at a ceremony May 9 in New York.

It looks fabulous, but doesn't it taste terrible?

Food stylists need to be very good cooks to do their jobs, apparently, even though what they do to simulate appetizing food in magazine photography is startling and sometimes disgusting. In an article by Vangie Baba-Reyes in the Philippine Daily Inquirer* noted American food stylist Delores Custer (recently in Manila for a day-long food-styling workshop) revealed some of the tricks food stylists use to highlight a product’s features and minimize its flaws,when preparing food for photography:
  • Custer's styling kit includes measuring items (spoons, cups and digital timer); knives and shears (slicer, parer, corer and zester); cleaning and touch-up aids (Q-Tips, handi-wipes); food items (Kitchen Bouquet, corn syrup, gelatin and cornstarch); brushes and spatulas, and things like tweezers, syringes, needle and thread, and thin wire.
  • Ice cream, one of the most difficult foods to photograph, is often made from powdered sugar, butter-flavored Crisco shortening and Karo (corn) syrup.
  • Kitchen Bouquet (a browning additive for gravy) simulates “coffee without scum” or, diluted in water, iced tea and chardonnay wine.
  • Adding Elmer’s glue makes whiter, thicker milk.
  • A hot skewer was used to add grill marks to grilled vegetables.
  • For pasta, like pesto, she substituted parsley for basil “for that greener, richer look.”
  • A steam machine to make food look piping hot.
  • Non-melting plastic ice cubes are used in cold drinks.
  • Soap bubbles are added to a glass of milk for that freshly poured look.
  • Meat is slathered with Vaseline or mineral oil for sheen.
  • A tablet of Alka Seltzer keeps carbonated beverages fizzy for the camera.
*(this blog casts nothing if not a very wide net!)

Debriefing military magazine editor

There's a long, and interesting, Q & A in Ontario Business Edge with Scott Taylor, the Editor of Esprit de Corps, the magazine about the military. Taylor is the go-to guy for candid assessments of the publicity-shy Canadian military and he is brutally frank about the "peacetime rust" and bureaucracy that makes the Ottawa military establishment creaky and inefficient. It's also interesting to read why he got into publishing in the first place and how he felt that being a soldier not only built his character, but made him a better editor.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New England Journal of Medicine looks north

The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has published a detailed article about the uproar at the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The article, called Politics and Independence: The Collapse of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, and which will be published in the print version of the journal on March 30 will doubtless crank up the heat on the CMA's board and its beleagured caretaker editors.

The article is authored by Dr. Miriam Schuchman, of the Department of Psychiatry at the State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo and Dr. Donald A. Redelmeier, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and a member of the CMAJ Editorial Board. It contains details and scene-setting that could only have come from individuals very close to the matter, including one anecdote about a nasty confrontation between the Chair of the CMA and Anne Marie Todkill, the Senior Deputy Editor who, along with Editor John Hoey, was later fired. It also gives background and context to the dispute that has not been published in the newspapers.

For details, read the article and earlier items posted here and here and here. But it is worth noting that yet another editor has resigned from the journal, this time Associate Editor Claire Kendall of Ottawa.

The CMA itself is saying nothing. But if they expected stonewalling on the firing of its two top editors was going to make the matter go away, having chapter and verse reported in one of the world's most widely quoted medical journals makes it a vain hope. The interest of the NEJM is reported at length in the Toronto Star. And around and around it goes...

Art and craft of the magazine story

Looks like a fine series of events being hosted by the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) Toronto chapter. The first on Wednesday evening, March 22 at the Northern District Library, 40 Orchardview Blvd. (west off Yonge, just north of Eglinton); 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. It's called Fine features: Crafting that great magazine story and the panelists include:
  • Cynthia Brouse, who in addition to winning a gold National Magazine Award for Personal Journalism in 2000, was lately the Managing Editor of Saturday Night and virtually wrote the book on fact checking in magazines;
  • David Hayes, who is one of the most accomplished magazine feature writers in Canada and he teaches Advanced Magazine Writing in Ryerson's G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education.
  • Paul Wilson, freelance writer, editor and translator. He was Associate Editor of The Idler magazine from 1988 to 1992, Senior Editor of Saturday Night magazine from 1998 to 2001, and most recently an Editor of The Walrus magazine.
Future seminars include: April 18 - Crime pays: A look at reporters who cover crime and corruption; May 16 - Well-connected: Using the Internet to write better articles

Fee: PWAC members - Free; General public - pay what you can ($10 suggested)
Afterwards: Join the panellists, PWAC members. and other writers for Beers with Peers in the Manchester Arms pub —conveniently located downstairs from the library.

Insider leaves magazine with woeful prediction

John Alexander Black, the outgoing publisher and founder of Lexpert magazine, assiduous profiler and celebrator of big Bay Street law firms, is profiled himself today in the Globe and Mail saying some not very encouraging things about his trade, including predicting that one of those megafirms is probably going to collapse.

Ask a journalist?

Paul Wells, the marquee columnist of Maclean's, briefly weighs in today on his blog on the issue of removing restrictions on foreign ownership of media. Seems he thinks it's a good idea and he is quite pleased that so many of his journalist colleagues think the same. We should all remember, however, that most journalists wouldn't know a balance sheet from a bagel.

Transcon revenues up, profit down slightly

Transcontinental Inc., Canada's largest consumer magazine publisher (though its magazine business is dwarfed by its printing interests) has released its latest quarterly results. Its results for the three months ended January 31 (see chart at left for the tracking of its stock price) were a profit of $27.9 million (31 cents a diluted share), compared with $29.1 million (33 cents diluted) a year earlier.

Total revenue was $547.4 million, up 6.2% from $515.3 a year earlier.The company said the gains were driven by marketing operations, including the U.S. business JDM bought in February 2005. Marketing revenue rose 10.4 per cent to $267.2 million, and operating profit in the division jumped more than 10 per cent. On the other hand, revenue in the highly competitive printing business rose a tiny 0.3 per cent to $171.6 million, but operating profit fell, while in the media business, including magazine publishing, revenue rose 3.6 per cent to $133.8 million. Profit was down slightly.

The company announced it will boost its dividend 18 per cent to 6.5 cents a share from 5.5 cents, effective in the second quarter .

Transcontinental shares rose 80 cents to $18.50 on the TSX after the announcement.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Arnaud Maggs wins Governor General's Award

Arnaud Maggs, known to the magazine world as a fine photographer, is being honoured with a Governor General's Award for Visual and Media Arts for his second career. Maggs was a Toronto photographer well known for the most striking magazine fashion shoots and portraiture in the 1970s who then reinvented himself with even more striking artworks, based on photography, but which explored systems and classifications of colour.

He was a noted portrait photographer in the 1970s, taking shots of Irving Layton and Northrop Frye. His work was carried in most major magazines of the time.

Then he became fascinated with systems of identification, beginning with mug shots, he says. "I use systems of identification as an underlying spine in all my work. Imposing this structure frees me to explore territories I never would have imagined," he says in an artist's statement. Maggs turned his artist's eye to the mug shot in 48 Views, taking pictures of Canadian artists, writers and musicians, but with the face turned so the viewer has a new perception. "I began to photograph 19th-century documents. I wanted to capture the underlying system in them," he says, explaining his transition from photographing people to objects such as the pages of documents or hotel signs.

His most recent show, Nomenclature, at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, is an exploration of classifications of colour.

The awards, which are administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, will be made by Governor General Michaelle Jean at Rideau Hall on March 22. In addition to a $15,000 prize, the winners will be presented with original artworks created by Saskatchewan wood turner Michael Hosaluk, winner of the 2005 Saidye Bronfman Award in Fine Crafts.

St. Joseph gives $10 million in ads to the arts

In commemoration of its 50th anniversary, St. Joseph Communications announced today that it is giving, over the next five years, $10 million in advertising space in its consumer magazines and websites to some of Canada’s leading arts and cultural organizations.

“As Canada’s largest privately owned communications company, we believe the arts are an essential form of communication,” says Tony Gagliano, Executive Chairman and CEO, St. Joseph Communications. “We hope our donation will increase public awareness of the arts, help develop cultural facilities and artists’ spaces, and encourage new talent and artistic excellence.”

The gift of ad space will benefit Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada’s National Arts Centre, Canada’s National Ballet School, The National Ballet of Canada, Ontario College of Art & Design, The Royal Conservatory of Music, Royal Ontario Museum, Soulpepper Theatre Company, Toronto International Film Festival Group, and Villa Charities. The ads will appear in such titles Toronto Life, FASHION, Wish, Gardening Life, THE LOOK, and WHERE Canada magazines.

St. Joseph Communications’ gift coincides with celebration of 2006 as the “Year of Creativity” in Toronto.

More changes at St. Joseph

Barely four months after becoming being named Vice-President, Corporate Sales, Blair Graham has resigned from St. Joseph Media. He had been there five years, joining as Executive Vice President of WHERE Canada and Publisher of WHERE Toronto. The memo from President Donna Clark announcing his departure said somewhat enigmatically that "Blair has decided to make a lifestyle change" and will now be working on the launch of a health magazine for a large Canadian association.

New launches worldwide

The International Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP) has just published a compilation of some of the more interesting magazine launches around the world. These include Shock, Amy, Golf Punk, Future, Time Out (Bucharest), Guts, Future, Autocar and the Chinese edition of Rolling Stone.

Writing contest season is here again

One of the consistent strategies used to plump up circulation at literary and cultural magazines in this country is the writing contest. It's an annual, tried-and-true, almost ritualistic enterprise for small circulation literaries from all across the country, usually in the spring. They even advertise each other's contests in "swap" ads. (In fact, there's even a rather hit-and-miss website that compiles information about such contests.)

This is but a sample of such contests: The Fiddlehead (which pays $2,000 for the best story and $2,000 for the best poem), The Malahat Review (the Novella Prize; first prize $500), Geist (Literal Literary Postcard Contest), CV2 (the 2-day poem contest), Grain (the Short Grain contest, with $6,000 in prizes), Arc ($2,250 in prizes), This Magazine ($750 first prize), The New Quarterly, The Antigonish Review (Great Blue Heron Poetry Contest), and Prairie Fire.

With variations, the publication announces the contest (the prize for which is usually a small amount of money and the three best entries being published in a forthcoming issue), collects a fee (usually in the $20 to $35 range) and includes for the fee a year's subscription. In most cases this can result in as many as a couple of hundred new subs that count as paid circulation. Plus content that the magazine can run for free.

Of course, what the magazines find is that those eager and hopeful entrants don't convert very well -- that is, they don't renew their subscriptions. If they come back, it is by entering next year's contest. They become serial contest entrants rather than loyal subscribers. In a way they become like those people who subscribe to the subscription premium ( a tote bag or a personal digital organizer) and get the magazine as a bonus.

Magazines find they can't contemplate stopping the contest even if they wanted to. It can be a merry-go-round that it is relatively easy to get on, but very difficult to get off. In particular, no literary wants to have to report that its subs have dropped 200 copies from the previous year when it comes time to fill out the Canada Council or provincial arts council application.

No one has ever done any research, as far as we can tell, to determine what overlap there is among the hard-working poets and short story writers out there entering contest after contest in the hopes of being published and, as a byproduct, becoming subscribers to the magazines that may publish them. And nobody, as far as we can tell, knows what proportion of the circulation of these magazines is underpinned by this strategem; or if the annual contests win over new business that sticks even after the prizes are given out.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Christopher Loudon to be editor of Hello!

Christopher Loudon, Vice-President and Editor-in-Chief of Inside Entertainment magazine (Kontent Publishing) is joining Rogers Consumer Publishing to be the first editor of the forthcoming Canadian edition of the celebrity title Hello!. (This was previewed here February 15.)

Earlier this month, Shelley Middlebrook was appointed Publisher of Hello!. The Canadian edition of the British version of the Spanish original Hola! will launch in August 2006.

Loudon was founding editor of Inside Entertainment. Before that, he was Editor of TV Guide and worked for Where magazines, Comac Communications Limited and Reader's Digest.

Launched in the UK in 1988, Hello! is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Spanish magazine Hola!, which first debuted in 1944. In the UK, Hello!'s current circulation stands at 392,481 weekly, with over 2.2 million readers each week.

UPDATE: Here is Masthead's take on the story, with pictures and the news of Loudon's successor at Inside Entertainment, Kendon Polak.

UPDATE: Antonia Zerbisias's blog at The Toronto Star put us onto an interesting, bitchy article in the Economist about the plethora of celebrity titles. It suggests that the "appetite for nothing" may have been sated and predicts that the number of celebrity titles may soon outnumber the plastinated celebrities they cover.

U.S. mag ad pages up

Year to date magazine ad pages in the U.S. are up 3% from the same period in 2005, according to a story in MediaDigest. You can also see the data at the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) website.

A photojournalist's legacy

The photographic and written legacy of one of Canada's leading journalists has been donated to the National Library and Archives of Canada. Jock Carroll was a contributor to magazines that are long gone, like Colliers and Weekend, and magazines which are still with us, like Maclean's and Sports Illustrated. Following his wishes, his family have made a major donation of more than 21,000 photographs, personal files, manuscripts and other invaluable material.

Born in Toronto in 1919, John Alexander "Jock" Carroll worked for almost fifty years as both staff and freelancer, completing his career with the late Toronto Telegram. He covered a wide variety of topics, from Canada's involvement in the Korean War to the activities of Canadian and American celebrities to the daily lives and concerns of Canadians.

One of the major reasons for his fame was the portfolio of photos he took of Marilyn Monroe as a young starlet on the film set of Niagara (1953), which were published after her death in the book Falling for Marilyn (1996). In addition to the drafts of his literary works, Carroll preserved many of the memos and letters he wrote to his colleagues and superiors, providing a unique insight into the working life of a photojournalist. Carroll, who died in 1995, was also author of seven books, among them The Shy Photographer, a novel based on the magazine business and The Life and Times of Greg Clark (1981) about a beloved columnist for Weekend Magazine.

Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada said: "The donation...will ensure that Jock Carroll's fascinating career will be better known to Canadians,"

Sixty-nine bucks

Statistics Canada has published a study of cultural industries in Ontario, compiled from a number of its other studies, and it is a very useful, and sometimes sobering, document. The 123-page report can be downloaded as a pdf here. The report was written by by David Coish of the Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics Division in Ottawa.

Among other things, it reminds us of things we probably already knew, or sensed. For instance, that Ontario houseolds spend an average of about $69 a year on periodicals. And that these same households spend 10 times as much on cable and satellite television fees than they do on magazines.

Over the period 1996 to 2003 the average Ontario household increased spending on periodicals by 35.3% (while spending on newspapers dropped 9%). But the report points out that this "was only somewhat higher than the 27.7% increase in the [consumer price index] for periodicals from 1996 to 2003. Therefore, most of the increased expenditures appear to be due to price increase."

In other words, not losing ground, but not gaining, either.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Fortune and fruity frogs

One of, if not THE, granddaddies of American magazines, Fortune, has hired maverick branding experts Strawberry Frog to give the magazine's image a tuneup, according to a story in Media Daily News. The magazine, which is almost a force of gravity at Time Inc., says it has hired a consultant, that's all, for a "special project".

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Six percent of what?

OK, you circulators out there, what are y'all going to do about a 6% GST?

How many magazines use tax-inclusive subscription prices, and (of those who do) how many of you are going to reduce prices from (say) $19.97 to $19.78 so the customer gets their measly 1%? How many will find they can postpone a subscription price increase by an additional few weeks or months because that 1% of extra subscription revenue will come in handy? What will we do with all this extra cash that the government thinks will trickle down to the taxpaying consumer?

And how many magazines still have tax-extra subscription prices (e.g. $19.97 + GST/HST/QST)? Do your order forms also spell out the tax-inclusive price (e.g. $21.37)? What will you do if you have mega-inventory of some pre-printed order forms or letters that refer to 7% GST? Pitch them and reprint, or just hope nobody notices?

What other impacts should we all be thinking about? Discussion begins now, in the comments area. Click away and let's get this party started!

Get with the program, dahling

The New York Observer has a fun and interesting story by Gabriel Sherman about the merging of the somewhat rough-and-ready Fairchild Publications (Women's Wear Daily etc.) by the sleek and glossy Condé Nast Publishing (Vogue, etc.). It's an interesting case study in a clash of cultures that happens quite often with mergers of magazine publishing operations. (Certainly it happened when Telemedia and Avid were swept up into Transcontinental.) Some of the aspects are hilariously trivial (who gets invited to parties) and some are just sad (the open-plan hurly burly of Fairchild replaced by a beige cubicle-land at Condé Nast).

Feeding the beast

There is no contradiction for trade and association magazines providing sound and useful journalism, and they often do, though it can be little known outside of their constituency. Here's a case in point from a little 2,000-circulation quarterly magazine called Wavelength, published by Andrew John Publishing of Dundas. Wavelength is the official publication of APCO Canada, the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials. And in the current issue (which can be downloaded as a pdf from the website) is a short, well-written and useful article that ought to be read by journalists as well as emergency workers. It details the challenges of how to handle media relations in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy -- in this case, the crash of a 747 at Halifax International Airport in October, 2004. John Stanton, a consultant, details in a very evenhanded way what happened and when and gives a list of tips for emergency measures officials on what he refers to as "feeding the beast".

Andrew John Publishing also publishes a number of other trade and association titles, including Emergency Management (official publication of the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness), Family Camping, CASLPO Today (official publication of the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario), Canadian Search and Rescue Magazine and a directory called Canadian Hearing Products.

Journal board defies association board

With the 16 person editorial board vigorously rejecting the course of action chosen by the Canadian Medical Association concerning its well-respected, but imperilled, Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), there seems to be only two possible trajectories for this story: either the editorial board resigns; or the CMA backs down. No odds on what will happen.

For another perspective, see eminent scientist David Suzuki's column about this story.

Graham Morris, the president of CMA Media Inc and Publisher of the CMAJ might also be beginning to wonder about that warm and tingly spot in his back. That would be the place where the CMA (surgically, of course) would insert the knife if it needs to make a sacrificial offering to get out of this mess. (If you missed earlier posts on this, you can catch up here and here.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Good eats

Each month, Leger Marketing does a poll that to be published on the back page of Toronto Life magazine; for the April issue, they asked about food preferences of people in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). When picking a restaurant, respondents preferred (natch) Italian and Chinese most of all.

Craig Worden, Associate Vice President of Public Affairs for Leger said most people have incorporated restaurant fare into their weekly dinner routines as a once-a-week treat. Here's the rundown of their favourite out-of-home foods in the GTA: Italian (21%); Chinese (17%); Canadian (12%); Indian (6%).

Missed our own anniversary

The first item posted on this blog was February 27, 2005. So, we're about a week late noting our first anniversary. Since that first item -- which called for consideration of a merger of magazine organizations to create one big and effective lobby -- there have been more than 400 postings. When it first started, people asked two questions: Why? and What is there to say? I think the variety of information presented and comment made since then answers both questions.

CJFE a bunch of wimps, says Levant

Western Standard Publisher Ezra Levant is contemptuous of and frustrated by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression for not wading into the "cartoon controversy" (notice that this story now has its own shorthand tag). Levant posted on the magazine's blog an item that said the CJFE was "a branch plant of the censors". Apparently, for Levant, this is typical, cowardly leftist behaviour.