Friday, December 22, 2006

The year in Canadian Magazines.

As we wind down the year (this will be the last post of 2006; best of the season and see you in January), it's time for our list of the good, the bad and the gnarly from the previous year, as posted on Canadian Magazines.

Physician, heal thyself award to the Canadian Medical Association for first privatizing its prestigious Canadian Medical Association Journal, then firing the editors because they didn't like the idea, then hiring a new editor after much argy-bargy and giving him precisely the kind of editorial freedom and independence that the original editors had asked for.

Here's your hat, what's your hurry? award to The Walrus editor Ken Alexander, who saw most of his most loyal supporters and colleagues bail from the magazine in the past year, but insisted that it was all part of the natural evolution of the magazine. The one thing he didn't acknowledge is that most people who left cited him as being one of the reasons.

Middle-aged, but not wishy-washy award to This Magazine, which turned 40 and doesn't look it or act like it. And to Toronto Life, also turning 40 this year, with a very sprontzy party at the Carlu in Toronto.

Phew, that was close award to Magazines Canada, which lobbied like hell to turn back Canada Post's intention to cut $15 million out of the postal subsidy and were rewarded, pre-Christmas, with an announcement that the subsidy would continue possibly for up to two more years while it figures out what alternatives there are.

It's small, but I like what you're doing with it award to Canadian Dimension, whose redesign is retro, but managed to revitalize this venerable, sometimes cranky, leftish magazine.

The bigger they were, the harder they fell award. Once one of Canada's most successful and highest circulation magazines, TV Guide was put out of its misery (plummeting circ) by Transcontinental, who said that people would get their information onscreen and online, which was apparently what they were doing anyway.

The Lonely in Alberta award to the Western Standard. Publisher Ezra Levant published the so-called Danish cartoons as a matter of principle, the principle being free speech. And almost none of the mainstream media sprang to his defence.

Them's the rules award to the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors and Magazines Canada for stickhandling an update of the ad:edit guidelines that CSME pioneered. It took a blue-ribbon panel (blush, I was one of them) almost 6 months to come up with the guidelines. Smart publishers will put them in their media kits and tell advertisers that they subscribe to them.

So far, no good award to Parachute, one of Canada's oldest arts journals, which gave up the ghost after more than 30 years of publication, when funders apparently gave up on it.

The methodology rag award to Maclean's, which published its lucrative university issue without the help of many of Canada's largest universities. The universities said it was because its methodology was flawed. But the truth is they hated being ranked and it had rankled for years that somebody else was making money telling Canadian students what was good and bad about their (dare we say it) public institutions.

The stop looking under the cushions award to the Canada Council, which was given an extra $50 million in funding and launched an open competition for bright ideas from Canadian magazines to get a piece of it.

The trees thank you award to the 20 some Canadian titles that signed the pledge to use Ancient Forest Friendly paper this year.

The decade award to Heather Robertson, who won her class action suit (which took that long) against the contention that publishers could do whatever they wanted with material they bought from freelancers. The Supreme Court said otherwise.

The sweet deal award to Rogers and Canada Post, who partnered to send a free magazine called Chocolat to people who move in Canada, using the post office's change of address database and Rogers's publishing expertise. Some people were less than happy that the post office was going into competition with its own customers.

The it seemed like a good idea at the time award to Dose, the daily magazine published briefly by CanWest MediaWorks and closed ; it suffered from a) too much circulation and b) too little advertising. It was fun and interesting, but that wasn't enough.

The don't know whether to laugh or cry award to Statistics Canada, which reported that the average Ontario household spends $69 a year on periodicals in 2003; almost exactly what was spent in 1996.

The blockbuster trade award to Glacier Enterprises, a former bottled water company from B. C. that in January purchased all the trade magazine properties in the Business Information Group that had formerly been part of the mighty, now vanished, Southam empire.

We're watching, you know award to the National Post, which little magazine Spacing caught filching a blog entry without asking permission. It wasn't a good year for the Post, which also won the Regret the Error prize for the most grovelling apology on another story.

Go back to looking under the seat cushions award to the Professional Writers of Canada (PWAC), which published a study that says freelancers are actually earning less in constant dollar terms, than they were five years ago.

The club that will have me as a member award to the Canadian Freelancers Union, which announced its organizing drive to get magazine contributors a square deal.

Now THAT'S a line extension award. Saltscapes announces that it is considering going into the restaurant business, with eponymous eateries being opened in cooperation with a hotel chain.

The someone's gotta give award to Michael Fox of Rogers, who became the first to receive the well-deserved Volunteer of the Year award from Magazines Canada.

Tears on the celebrity beat award to Torstar, which cut and ran when its new magazine Weekly Scoop failed to meet expectations.

The cheery greeting award to Christopher Loudon, the editor of Hello! Canada, the apparently very successful startup partnership from Rogers.

The playing nice award to Peter C. Newman and Conrad Black, who in January reached a settlement in Black's libel lawsuit against the indefatigable chronicler of the rich and famous (you'll recall that Black had Newman served with the papers at the Maclean's 100th birthday bash last year).

All the best of the season and for a running start on 2007.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Outdoor Photography Canada
to launch this spring

A new photography magazine is planning to launch this spring. Outdoor Photography Canada will be a quarterly, dedicated to landscapes, wildlife, nature and sport and the views that wilderness has to offer, combining love of the outdoors and photography in one magazine. The magazine will be buying one-time rights to photos submitted by readers. It's to be published by Sunlight Media of Brampton, Ontario. The editor in chief is Roy Ramsay. A one-year sub will be $16.97.

Changes in business and professional
group at Rogers

Further tightening at the Business and Professional Publishing division of Rogers, as Senior Vice-President John Milne consolidates his hold with the departure of four trade publishers: three out the door, one transferred over to the consumer division. This, according to a story in mastheadonline (sub req'd).

Gone are:
  • Richard Elliott, executive publisher Marketing Group/ Meetings and Travel Group;
  • Coatings publisher Peter Wilkinson;
  • Materials Management & Distribution publisher Warren Patterson
  • Also departing was veteran art director Michael Cleland.
Moved over is Jim Hicks, the publisher of Cosmetics and Cosmétiques magazines, who now reports to Mitch Dent, Senior Vice-President, Sales, Consumer Magazines. Apparently there is going to be a tighter cross pollination between these trade titles with consumer titles like Glow and Flare that depend heavily on cosmetics advertising.

Milne, who had headed the professional and medical-related publishing at Rogers, took over the entire portfolio when Harvey Botting retired in the spring.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Canadian mags among
Utne independent nominees

The Utne Independent Press Awards are a big deal, announced in its January/February issue; there is usually a tease at the end of the previous year, as there is this year with a number of Canadian titles in the finalists list: The Walrus (General Excellence, Best Writing, Best New Publication), Geez (Best New Publication), Maisonneuve (Best Writing, Best Design), Spacing (Best Design), Shameless (Lifestyle Coverage), Alberta Views (Social/Cultural Coverage), Sub-Terrain (Arts Coverage), Broken Pencil (Arts Coverage).

Blink, whatever that means

We came across the premier issue of a new magazine called Blink, a quarterly out of Toronto that says it is chronicling the new Asian Canadian experience ("bicultural motion").

The cover of the magazine plays to a sterotype of pouty, muscular young Asian males, draped over fast cars and glancing at an incongruously dressed young Asian woman (particularly in November). So, pretty standard stuff for this kind of lifestyle magazine. Its motto is LIVE. THINK. STYLE. PLAY. However, it's still not clear why this magazine is called Blink.

Curious thing is that, even after its launch which was November 20, the magazine's website is still "under construction". It does have a site on My Space ( But otherwise, there is very little information about the magazine or its publishers. (Some Googling, however, shows that there are half a dozen Blink magazines around the world, including one in Beirut, Lebanon, another one about people who blink too much and a new men's magazine in South Africa.)

Monday, December 18, 2006

One-way flow of Maritimers continues west

According to the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, nearly 13,000 Atlantic Canadians moved to Alberta for work between July 2005 and July 2006. That's not the end of it, according to a story in on think tank says the flow of skilled workers west will continue for some time and that's despite efforts like the magazine supplement published this week in several Alberta newspapers, trying to lure homesick Maritimers back. The council said that the impact of this migration of skilled workers will last a decade and the best that Atlantic province employers can do is to emphasize the disparity in costs of living (sky high in Alberta, low in the east).

It's promotion, but is it news?

Am I alone in wondering why it's news that Time magazine's Canadian edition chose Prime Minister Stephen Harper as its newsmaker of the year? Canadian outlets have fallen over themselves (as they do every year) in breathlessly reporting this, a self-serving promotional gimmick that was tired a long time ago.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Custom publishing now
accounts for 25% of marketing budgets

Companies in the U.S. spend about 18 per cent more on custom publishing in 2006 than the year before, accordingto a new study released by the Custom Publishing Council and Publications Management magazine, reported in Folio:.

The average amount that companies spent on custom publishing in 2006 grew to just under US$1.13 million. It now accounts for 24 percent of the total amount that companies spend for marketing, advertising and communications.

Interestingly, nonprofit organizations spending about 7% more of their total marketing communications budgets than for-profit companies do.

There is no equivalent data for the Canadian market.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

FHM's raunchy gambit fails,
magazine to close

"What it tells us about the category is if you don't innovate, you die." That was the response of the editor of Stuff magazine to the news that FHM, one of the pack of "lads' magazines", is closing in March, according to a story in MediaDaily News.

had shown signs of trouble in recent months, including being forced to cover up increasingly raunchy covers on newsstands and wholesale firing of editorial management. It chose to get more salacious and provocative with its covers, such as
putting porn star Tera Patrick in a black-leather bikini bottom and elbow-length leather gloves. This seems to have backfired. Its rivals, seeing flattening or stalling sales, took a different approach.
In the rival camp, Maxim and Stuff shrugged off the "lad mag" moniker and tacked upstream, adjusting editorial content to follow readers into their late 20s and targeting affluent young male professionals. From 2005-2006, the median income of Stuff's readers rose from $59,527 to $61,535, according to MRI. More telling, the number of male college graduates increased 38%.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Canada Post contribution to Publications Assistance Program to continue

PAP is safe, for now. The federal government has directed Canada Post to continue contributing its $15 million in support of the Publications Assistance Program. In a statement made today, Lawrence Cannon, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, said he had instructed Canada Post to continue the contribution for at least two more years. His announcement was made in tandem with a directive that Canada Post was to come up with a plan to restore and maintain safe and regular mail delivery to rural mailboxes.

Here is the text of Cannon's statement.

The magazine industry, which has been lobbying hard against the $15 million cut, which was to come into effect April 1, was pleased.

“We thank Minister Cannon and (Heritage) Minister (Bev) Oda for their leadership in addressing the need to maintain Canada Post’s partnership in the delivery of Canadian magazines until new solutions can be developed,” says Mark Jamison, chief executive officer, Magazines Canada. “Canadian magazines lead Canada’s cultural media industry with a market share of 41% of total magazine sales and the PAP program and Canada Post delivery of Canadian content magazines play a critical role in this success.”
Canadian Community Newspaper Association Chief Executive Officer John Hinds said:
"This is a strong gesture of support for our industry from the federal government. I would particularly like to thank Minister of Canadian Heritage Bev Oda for her understanding and assistance."

Building on success

Now here's an idea, with the awards season coming up (deadlines looming for the National Magazine Awards and the Kenneth R. Wilson awards). In Malaysia, they had an advertising awards program (Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia -- the Kancil awards) where the prizes were shaped like Lego™ blocks, so you could stack 'em!

National Post is 'winner' of the year
for its correction

The National Post has tied for winner of the year for The Crunks 06, the compilation from the site Regret The Error of corrections and apologies from newspapes and magazines. It won for its correction following the May 19 front page splash of a story from an Iranian freelancer that said non-Muslims would have to wear special badges. (It used up almost as much space explaining how it came to publish the flat-out wrong story than it did on the story itself.)

Billable hours in a freelancer's life

On the the blog Precedent: The New Rules of Law and Style, there is an interesting item showing the likely impact of "billable hours" on the lifestyles of young lawyers.

We thought it would be interesting to do a variant of this for magazine freelancers. We have assumed a 5- day work week, 8 hours sleep a night and two weeks vacation.

Waking hours per day 16
Waking hours per work week (5 days) 80
Days per work year 250

Waking hours per work year 4,000

Preparing, eating meals (1.5 hr/day) (375)
Hygiene (1 hr/day) (250)
Exercise (1 hr/day) (250)
Household chores (1.5 hr/day) (375)
Watching TV (1 hr/day) (250)
Work avoidance (1 hr/day) (250)
Phone/e-mail (1 hr/day) (250)
Sex (1 hr/week) (50)
Socializing (3 hr/wk) (150)

Total non-freelance time use 1,950

Total time left* for freelance work 2,050

Average full-time freelance pre-tax income (PWAC study) $29,235

Hourly wage $14.26

*Of course this assumes that every hour is used productively.


Making sure that what you see
is what's there

Separating truth from fiction, particularly in pictures, has become a vexing question for publishers and news organizations like Reuters. You'll recall that a while back Reuters fired a news photographer who 'enhanced' some pictures digitally by adding extra plumes of smoke or trails of rocket fire to make his pictures more compelling.

Tom Glocer, the chief executive officer of Reuters, made a speech this week to the Globes Media Conference in Tel Aviv and revealed that, working with Adobe and Canon, they are close to unveiling a new technology that will allow photo editors to follow an audit trail of changes to a digital image, embedding the information in the photo itself. He said the new technical standard may become the industry standard.

Part of Glocer's speech concerned the proliferation of voices, particularly in the blogosphere, much if not most of it without any accountability or transparency. The so-called "two-way pipe" has resulted in a world where readers, viewers and listeners are participants, distributors and creators. News media organizations can be excited about the possibilities this holds out (Glocer gave the example of a bunch of nuns, blogging from their convent) but they shouldn't lose sight of their continuing responsibilities to tell the truth, he said.
" the excitement and enthusiasm of this new collaboration we mustn’t forget the value of trust. We mustn’t forget that our actions and ideas must remain guided by impartial accurate information.

"The real opportunity – besides more voices – is that in a world of multiple choices, brands become billboards guaranteeing an experience. If your brand stands for accuracy, for truthfulness, for trust, you become a beacon – a trusted source – a hub in a plural media universe.

"Trust is what draws our audiences to our brand. Trust and professionalism is what makes our product cut through the clutter."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rodale integrates print and online sales

Rodale Magazines, the publishers of Prevention, Men's Health, Best Life and Runner's World, have combined their print and online forces for advertising sales and given its top editors an increase in responsibility for developing brand extensions in a variety of media, according to a story in MediaDaily News. It's a sign not only of the increasing integration of print and online but also of online as a revenue source for magazine publishers.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dinsdale departs as Walrus ad sales manager

Rolf Dinsdale, the associate publisher of The Walrus (responsible for advertising sales) has resigned. He says it is amicable and mutual, the result of "a fundamental disagreement about publishing philosophy".

His departure comes mere weeks after the appointment of Shelley Ambrose as the new publisher of the magazine. However, he says the idea has been gestating for some time.

Seasonal lures for the long term

Broken Pencil, the magazine about zine and indie culture, has come up with a couple of nifty package deals to push longer-term subs this holiday season.

One package at $30 gets a 2-year sub (8 issues), a copy of Hal Niedzvecki's book Hello I'm Special: How Individuality became the New Conformity and a set of 5 BP pins. The other, at $28 has a 2-year sub, one copy each of earlier Niedzviecki books Smell It and Lurvy and one Spoken Broken CC, an anthology of spoken word performances.

(It also sells the magazine by itself, $15 for a one year sub (4 issues) and $10 for each subsequent gift.)

As the magazine's pitch so artfully says:
Don't disappoint with a lame order of corporate dreck from some box store! Amaze and delight with the awesome underground arts info in every huge issue of Broken Pencil -- Canada and North America's only guide to zine culture and the independent arts.

New, free, media directory
being launched by MediaPost

A free all-media directory MediaPost Rates & Data is being rolled out in the U.S. with more than 37,000 listings of major electronic and print media providers, with detailed information on contacts, addresses, rate cards, coverage reps, networks and many of the basic building blocks of a media buy. The free directory is being published by MediaPost, the publisher of MediaDaily News.

(If there is a shiver running down the spines of Standard Rates and Data Service (SRDS) and Canadian Advertising Rates and Data (CARD), it's understandable. Though they provide free listings to media companies, they rely on hefty subscription fees to pay for their directories.)

The company says in addition to the usual print media data, it will be providing raw data on 11,000 radio stations, 12,000 newspapers and 9,000 TV properties, and a variety of search and management tools "designed to simplify workflow for media planners and buyers". There is no indication that it will carry Canadian data. Media companies will be able to directly list, update and manage data on their properties.

A real circulation drive

In an interesting piece of cross promotion, the Canadian Autombile Association (CAA) is offering subscriptions to the monthly kids' magazine The Magazine for a discounted rate of $24.95 (normally $29.95), with the stated benefit of turning 25% of the revenues over to help support school safety patrol programs. It was promoted in the December e-letter circulated to CAA members in south central Ontario this week.

The magazine uses partnerships to significant effect, selling at at Safeway, Dominion Stores and Sobey's checkouts with the promotional hook of diverting part of the sale price to support things like the Kids Help Line.

The full name of the publication is The Magazine (Not for Adults) and it started out in 1993 as the Jr. Jays magazine, before being renamed. It is published by the Community Programs Group of Toronto, a division of Markplan Inc.

Friday, December 08, 2006

PWAC urges freelancers to shun deal
with London Free Press

In what may be a significant marker along the road to asserting freelancer's rights, the Professional Writers Association of Canada and the fledgling Canadian Freelancer's Union are urging freelancers in London, Ont. not to sign contracts with Sun Media/Quebecor's London Free Press.

The new contracts, with a deadline of December 11, apparently make any further work with the paper contingent on signing away all residual and secondary rights to material sold to the paper, without additional payment.
“We feel this contract, and the manner in which it was presented, compromises the basic rights of Canadian writers under the Copyright Act, and is just bad-faith business negotiation,” says PWAC President, and London freelancer Suzanne Boles in a release. “The contract we’ve seen demands irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide rights to a freelancer’s work, with no extra remuneration for these extra uses.”
PWAC is recommending that local writers do not sign this new contract. “It makes terrible business sense for writers to work under these conditions,” says PWAC Executive Director, John Degen. “The agreement makes a show of granting writers continued ownership of the copyright for their work, and then systematically strips away every one of those rights, including moral rights, while offering nothing more in compensation. It is against the very spirit of copyright and cultural production in this country.“

UPDATE The Canadian Freelancers Union has issued a statement that says:
"Quebecor is one of Canada's largest media giants. It has revenue of over $6.3 billion worldwide, yet it wants to squeeze even more from some of Canada's lowest paid workers," says (CFU President Michael] OReilly. "This is the most one-sided contract I have seen. It takes everything and leaves the writers with nothing but the legal liability should someone decide to sue. We are advising freelancers not to sign.

Mags Canada asks Ontario for tax credit, end to unfair competition and blue box equity

Magazines Canada wants a tax credit for its members in Ontario, a jurisidiction that is home to half of Canadian magazines and where every other cultural industry has such tax relief. The requuest was part of a pre-budget submission made this week to Greg Sorbara, the Ontario treasurer. It's not the first time a tax credit has been talked about.

The magazine association said a tax credit would result in
  • More original Ontario-authored content and more content on multiple platforms.
  • Increased ad revenue and share of ad revenues
  • Greater newsstand competitiveness (particularly with U.S. titles)
  • Increased profitability (and therefore corporate tax)
  • Increased employment (and therefore more income taxes)
  • More and better magazines, both print and digital
In addition, the treasurer was asked to direct the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to stop selling advertising in its Food and Drink magazine.
"Food & Drink has no real distribution costs, does not pay Retail Sales Allowance and has no costs for subscriber development and renewal," said the brief. "It uses its beverage alcohol ad sales base to capture other mainstream national advertising, which impacts Ontario magazines and other media negatively.

"...Food & Drink hinders the growth of existing Ontario magazines and discourages the launch of new ones. Beverage alcohol advertisers have told us that they feel compelled to advertise in Food & Drink."
And Magazines Canada wants foreign publishers to pay their fair share of blue box costs.
"There is currently no mechanism to levy foreign companies who distribute magazines in Ontario. As a result, Ontario companies are paying for foreign companies as well as themselves."
It asked for a requirement that all foreign magazines that enter Ontario register with Stewardship Ontario and pay blue box fees.
"Ontario publishers are environmentally responsible, are registered with and pay fees to Stewardship Ontario, yet U.S.- based magazines and Canadian wholesalers are currently receiving a free ride. The largest volume of magazines comes from the United States. Since 2004, blue box levies have increased 1,726%. Initiatives to identify “first importer” status, e.g. trying to levy foreign-based publishers through their Canadian-based wholesalers/distributors and mailers, have not worked.and pay their fair share of the blue box levies."

Senator Campbell to Ezra Levant: "Nutz!"

Senator Larry Campbell, former Vancouver coroner, model for Da Vinci's Inquest and so on, takes off today after Western Standard editor publisher Ezra Levant for his criticism of the dual (Canadian, French) citizenship of new Liberal leader Stephane Dion.

Is it a coincidence that there was a full moon at the same time as MP Pat Martin and Western Standard Editor Ezra Levant decided that Stéphane Dion was a danger to Canada’s security due to his French passport?One wonders where these people get their ideas.While I am used to the rants of Mr. Martin and the warped writings of Mr. Levant in his version of Frank magazine, this latest ideology defies any sense of logic. Many people in Canada have dual citizenship. Either as a result of birth or parentage they have two passports, one Canadian and the other foreign. Prior to this latest molehill, no notice was made of this except in a time of war. Need I remind these two of the harm that was caused to Canadian citizens who were either of foreign birth or parentage?

Feathertale Review, still online,
now on paper

The quirky, sometimes hilarious virtual magazine Feathertale Review has taken corporeal form as the premier issue of its print annual is now on sale. The 68-page annual is a collection of original humour from Graham Roumieu (Me Write Book), Robert Munsch (Love You Forever) and two-dozen writers, poets, and illustrators. The magazine specializes in short fiction, cartoons and poetry.

describes itself as "a high- and low-brow magazine that sits well on your coffee table or next to your toilet to be enjoyed daily or weekly, depending on the frequency with which you drink coffee or tend to your internal plumbing." It's for sale from the magazine's online store or (in Toronto) from Pages or Swipe.

The articles include A Dip in Hemingway’s Pool, by Richard Taylor, A Select Bibliography of William Shakespeare’s Plays in a Series of Haiku, poet Lisa Xing’s imagination at its best, (King Lear: I was dumb, gave land / to two daughters. They in turn / turned on me. Bitches…) plus writing and cartoons by familiar contributors such as Iain Marlow, Ernie Scott, Matt Goerzen, Kamila Mlynarczyk.

Feathertale comes from the agitated imaginations of Brett Popplewell (editor) and Lee Wilson (art director). Popplewell does his end from London (Eng.) and Wilson works in Toronto.

Making the most of 2,000 words

Andrew Clark on the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers (TFEW) e-list gives his formula for writing a "comprehensive" magazine piece within a limit of 2,000 words:
Lead - 26 lines (set place, character etc)
Billboard - outlines the major topics (say 7)
Spin it out - each graph hits the major topic
Closer - back to lead setting
out shower, shave and time for a drink

Quote, unquote

"The dominant image of today's bride is that she is white, blond, blue-eyed and thin."
-- Cynthia Frisby, associate professor of advertising at University of Missouri's School of Journalism, quoted in an article about a new study that shows significant racial bias in U.S. bridal magazines. Frisby and Erika Engstrom, professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, conducted the study by doing a survey of 57 randomly selected issues of Bride's Magazine, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride from 2000-2004. It found that less than 2% of ads had African-American brides, while not one had an African-American bride on the cover. More African-American women appeared in the role of bridesmaid, however.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

New freedom for new editor-in-chief of Canadian Medical Association Journal

The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) has a new editor-in-chief, the outcome of months of dispute and disagreement over editorial independence.

Apparently, the new editor, Paul Hébert of Ottawa, a critical care physician, will be enjoying not only greater freedom from interference by the association, but also an enhanced budget to improve the quality and quantity of the research that the journal publishes, at least according to what he told the Canadian Press. Dr. Hébert called it "the job of a lifetime"

The CMAJ's reputation took a battering when the long-time editor-in-chief, Dr. John Hoey and his deputy, senior editor Ann Marie Todkill, were fired by the CMA board. The magazine had been "privatized" under a separate division and there were serious disagreements between the editors and the publisher, Graham Morris, over editorial integrity. There were more resignations, including most of the magazine's advisory board and serious talk about starting a rival medical journal, possibly online.

The dispute got the CMAJ a black eye on the pages of the New York Times and the New England Journal of Medicine. Finally, it had to strike an expert panel to look into the issue of governance. Even that didn't run smooth, with the panel chairman resigning partway through for reasons of health. Eventually, Dick Pound, perhaps better known as the czar of the organization fighting doping in sport, took the chair and a report was issued that recommended clear guidelines for the editorial independence of the journal.

The journal has, until now, had an acting editor in chief in Dr. Noni MacDonald, who wrote a departing editorial in the December issue. Dr. Hébert , whose appointment was announced in a release by the CMA, praised her work through the difficult interregnum. "My sense is, let's just move on from here," he told CP.

Here are but some of the previous postings about this tangled affair:

CMA Journal editors fired

New England Journal of Medicine looks north
The money elephant in the corner
Follow the money at the CMA...
CMA accepts recommendations for editorial independence at its journal

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Widely published poet and novelist
is named Poet Laureate

A poet who has been widely published in Canadian magazines throughout his career has been named Canada's poet laureate. John Steffler, who has published in the Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, Fiddlehead, Event, The Antigonish Review, Poetry in Canada, Queen's Quarterly, Descant and Canadian Literature. The post of poet laureate at least in theory means that he will have the responsibility for writing verse to mark significant occasions.

Steffler, 59, who lives in Montreal but taught for many years at Memorial University in Newfoundland, replaces Pauline Michel, who completed her two-year tenure last month. He becomes the third poet to hold the largely ceremonial office since its inception four years ago. He will get an office on Parliament Hill and $13,000 a year over his two-year tenure.

"As an award-winning poet and fiction writer, Mr. Steffler has been a highly regarded ambassador of Canadian writing for many years," Speaker of the Senate, Noël Kinsella, said Monday in making the announcement.

"His career-long interest in the interaction between people and the places they inhabit will lead to some insightful poetic reflections on the Canadian experience."

Steffler was born in Toronto and grew up in Thornhill. He obtained his Masters degree from the University of Guelph and taught in Guelph and at Sir Wilfrid Grenfell College, Memorial University starting in 1975 until he retired.

He told the CBC: "They say, so far, that there is no requirement to write things on demand for the government. They're just so happy with whatever you produce as a poet," Steffler told CBC News. "But I'm certainly going to try to go beyond that and act as an advocate for writing across the country."

Steffler's books of poems include That Night We Were Ravenous, The Wreckage of Play and The Grey Islands. A novel, The Afterlife of George Cartwright, was shortlisted for the 1992 Governor General's Award for fiction and won the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction award.

Turning tables, the Atlantic Provinces try to lure their own back

It's tit for tat when it comes to recruiting skilled workers. In September, we wrote about a newspaper supplement called Move West that had scandalized Atlantic Canada by trying to lure its skilled workforce to move to Fort McMurray and places like that in the booming west.

Now, according to a story on, playing to the homesickness of Maritimers who may have found that Alberta is not all they had hoped, a magazine-style supplement called Come Home to a Career in Atlantic Canada is inserted in several urban Alberta newspapers this week. The 40-page supplement,includes ads from health authorities in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the Atlantic Lottery Corp., Research in Motion in Halifax, and the governments of Nova Scotia and P.E.I.
"Are you feeling that coming home for vacation is not long enough to enjoy your family and friends? Do you miss the ocean views and the smell of New Brunswick forests and trails?" reads an ad from NB Power.
J.D. Irving, another advertiser, asks whether Atlantic-born Albertans are homesick, and advertises jobs back home as offering quality of life, closeness to family and friends, and affordable housing. "Your current equity can go a long way," the advertisement reads.

Jean Nadeau, general manager of, which published the insert, said the ads and related website will help anyone who is thinking of moving back.

"If you go to our website today, there are probably around 2,000 opportunities in the region, and it is clearly helpful to plan instead of coming back with [just] one or two opportunities, and not being sure if it's worth it. I think there is a lot of advantages." Nadeau said there was a compelling reason to publish the insert now.
"Christmas is coming, and many Atlantic Canadians living in Alberta will visit their family, and they might have an opportunity to set up meetings with potential employers, and maybe start preparing their return if they ever want to do so."

Department of familiarity

The current issue of Canadian Art (Fall, 2006) is a full-bleed reproduction of a painting by painter Karin Davie and it's quite handsome and eye-catching.

However, it seemed familiar to one of our correspondents, who referred us to the Fall 2005 issue of The Link, the magazine of Bishop Strachan School in Toronto.

The Link is published 3 times annually and goes to the students, family and friends of the tony girls' school, (sometimes thought of as the female counterpart of Upper Canada College.) Davie is an alumna of BSS (1983).

(By the way, The Link is edited by Sharon Salson Gregg, formerly the publisher of the late art magazine Lola, and is art directed by Stephen Gregory, the former art director of This Magazine.)

Transcon gives us 30 million chances
to subscribe to More magazine

[NOTE: This post has been updated and corrected.]The power of being a multi-product, multi-media company and a printer to boot is nowhere better illustrated than in the $1.8 million launch* of the Canadian edition of More magazine, which Transcontinental Media is publishing in collaboration with the U.S. giant Meredith Corp.

Out of the box, according to what publisher Francine Tremblay and editor-in-chief Linda Lewis told reporters yesterday (as reported on mastheadonline - sub req'd) there will be guaranteed circulation of 120,000 (30,000 prepaid subs, 30,000 single copy sales and 60,000 controlled copies). The launch is scheduled for March 26.

Transcon, using many of its own resources (such as its co-op envelope, its printing facilities, its inserts in its stable of consumer magazines and its newspapers and its MochaSofa web database, websites and e-letters) will be sending out more than 31 million offers, including about 600,000 direct mail packages.

*Mastheadonline reported that $1.8 million was being invested in the launch. In fact, that is the amount being spent on subscription development; the total being spent on the launch is $5 million.

Maclean's's modest improvement

The Globe and Mail's fascination with Maclean's continues, today with an article based on the latest circulation data. James Adams has talked to some people in the industry (including me) and concludes that things are looking up for the weekly. Adams cites selling an average of 7,800 single copies per week as one positive, up 51% since the last measurement. But for a magazine that bottomed out at 4,700 copies one issue, it's all relative. And it must be remembered that, at one time, Maclean's routinely sold 15,000 to 20,000 single copies every week. At this rate, it will take ten years to reach those levels again, if at all.

The magazine's strategy of "managing down" its total paid circ to somewhere in the 350,000 range is apparently working (the principle being that you get a smaller, but higher quality audience). But as I am quoted as saying (in a rather garbled metaphor about train tracks!), the trick will be to hold onto the best subscribers (from an advertiser's perspective) and not slide right on past your circ target.It's a tricky thing.

Magazines Canada advertising the power of magazine advertising

Magazines Canada is launching an advertising campaign promoting magazines as an advertising medium. Four versions of the full page ads have been produced, in French and English. The theme is "Make the Connection with Magazines" and is intended to promote the selling power of magazines; it emphasizes the engagement with readers by showing people reading a magazine in typical settings (on a patio, in the office or, as in this example, at breakfast). The gimmick is that the ad they're looking at advertises something that they're sitting in front of (a cereal box, a barbecue, a car and so on)

A bulletin to members says that participating titles are being asked to sign a participation agreement which, in essence, acknowledges three hours of "in kind" staff time that each magazine expends in running the campaign and specifies the dollar value of the ad(s) they run. The campaign is paid for by a grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Torstar acquires The Canadian Immigrant; to launch Toronto edition

Torstar's Star Media Group has acquired the B.C-based monthly The Canadian Immigrant and is planning to launch a Toronto version of the magazine next year. The announcement was made yesterday by Naeem “Nick” Noorani, Publisher, President and CEO of The Canadian Immigrant.
The Canadian Immigrant magazine is an important resource tool for those in their first years in Canada.Our mission is to inform, educate and motivate more newcomers to see what life in Canada can be like,” said Mr. Noorani. ”Star Media Group has distribution channels that reach across the country. I’m optimistic that opening up a national distribution network will allow us to reach more immigrants in new areas of the country, benefiting those who see us as a bridge towards a new life in a new home.
Noorani said the two-year-old magazine's operation in the lower mainland will remain the same and he will continue to manage the operation.

The Torstar Media Group jointly operates Sing Tao Daily, the largest Chinese language publication in Canada, Metro, the free subway paper, and Eye weekly. It also controls almost all of the weekly and daily newspapers published in the Greater Toronto Area and south central Ontario, including the Hamilton Spectator, The Record (Waterloo Region) and the Guelph Mercury and all the community newspapers of the former Metroland Group (such titles as the Mississauga News).

The magazine (actually, a tabloid newspaper format) publishes solely in English, which Noorani calls "the language of success" in Canada. Many of the magazine’s readers are already fluent in the language. “People think immigrants don’t speak English. That’s such a myth,” he said, noting the federal government has increased its English requirements in the last decade for some categories of immigration.

“Most immigrants have a higher education than people give them credit for," he said in an interview last May. At the time he was suggesting that the company would expand to other Canadian cities across the country.

Noorani's story is typical of his readers. He and his wife Sabrina started out at a travel trade publication and later published a book called Arrival Survival Canada to answer immigrants' questions about their new home.

Then came what Nick called the “3 a.m. dream. It was almost like an epiphany. Why isn’t there a magazine for immigrants?” In August 2003, he quit his sales job to work full-time on The Canadian Immigrant.

“We sunk our life savings, our credit cards were maxed out,” recalled Noorani, in an interview with the Burnaby News Leader. They’d just bought a house and, because of the rising property values in the hot real estate market, were able to take out a second mortgage to finance the dream.

“It’s part of the story of most immigrant businesses,” Nick said. “You start with very little capital, work long hours, recruit free labour like your kids,” much to their chagrin, he added with a laugh.

The magazine started out in a small room in their North Vancouver home and the first issue was 24 pages with a circulation of 10,000. The publication is now averaging 40 pages and 21,000 copies on the streets each month, claiming 100,000 readers.

Monday, December 04, 2006

SkinnyFish to launch western design title

SkinnyFish Media of Calgary (the merger of SkinnyFish Design and the former Calgary Media Group, is launching controlled circulation title called Elemente, according to a story in mastheadonline (sub req'd). Some 20,000 copies of the bimonthly design/architecture publication will drop out of the Globe and Mail and be distributed regionally through Chapters/Indigo.

“Influenced by some of the world’s renowned architecture and design-driven publications, Elemente provides a unique regional platform that focuses on current architectural highlights, key players, products, designs and emerging trends,” reads the media kit. (Full-page, one-time, four-colour ad is $3,275.)

SkinnyFish also publishes Alberta Oil and is saying it will produce a Chinese-language magazine aimed at the Chinese market (and partnering with a Chinese publisher) called Canadian Oil next spring.

What's what in the Heather Robertson case

For those who are still scratching their heads about what, precisely, was the outcome of the decision in the copyright case Heather Roberston et al vs. Thomson Corporation, we should be grateful that the Professional Writers Association of Canada has received permission to reproduce a paper by Warren Sheffer of the firm of Hebb and Sheffer that provides some clarity. Go to the PWAC site and download a pdf. We posted about this decision (the culimination of a 10-year struggle) about a month ago.

Canadian Business tallies
100 richest Canadians

Canadian Business has published its seventh edition of the Rich 100 and there are now apparently 46 billionaires in Canada, up 6 from last year. Their total worth -- calculated from a number of sources -- is about $153 billion. Ted Rogers, who owns Canadian Business, has moved up from 7th to 4th position and is worth $4.5 billion.

U.S. magazines are slow to seize web opportunities, study says

Magazines in the U.S. are lagging in terms of seizing online opportunities, at least when compared with newspapers, according to a study reported in MediaDaily News. The study, by a Washington-based public relations company The Bivings Group, studied 50 of the top circulating magazines to assess the degree to which they are using the internet. It says that newspapers are way ahead of major U.S. magazines in terms of introducing the online features intended to attract audiences.
"Despite the fact that magazines have succeeded in providing online content that enhances printed content, the availability of various Web 2.0 features on magazine websites was disappointing."
The study says that in almost every category, from using video and podcasting, to publishing writer and report blogs, magazines are lagging far behind. The study pointed to Time magazine and Maxim as examples ofusing online tools well , but said that many other magazines just don't cut it. Astonishingly, only 8% of the magazines surveyed allow readers to comment on articles.

Of the top 50 magazines, just 34% offer video content, 14% offer podcasts, and 8% allow users to comment on articles. These figures are dwarfed by the offerings of the top 50 newspapers.

The most popular Web feature for magazine Web sites, RSS feeds, is only offered by 48% - 24 magazines - of the nation's top 50 magazines. In contrast, the most popular Web feature offered by the top 50 newspaper Web sites - reporter blogs - is offered by 92% of online newspapers. In addition, just three of the top 50 magazines -6%- used a system of tags for searching and organizing their Web sites: Popular Science, US Weekly, and Parenting.

A comment on on the Bivings website suggests that the study missed one aspect in which magazines are way ahead -- using e-newsletters to connect with niche segments of their audiences. These tend to be more popular and more widely taken up by readers than RSS feeds.

Conservative magazines have
always had a struggle

There is an almost wistful note to a posting on the blog enterstageright about the failure of Canada to spawn a successful conservative magazine as influential in this country as the National Review was in the United States.
Much of the apparent fragility of conservatism in Canada arises from the lack of an intellectual infrastructure outside of various party structures -- and especially of a major, highly influential publication like the early National Review in the United States.
The posting is an interesting compilation of the starts, stops and near misses (mentioning some publications that were never intended to carry the banner -- things like Influence, The Next City and The Idler). Mark Wegierski doesn't pull punches when it comes to cataloguing the shortcomings of various publications. In particularly he says of the Western Standard, the heir to the Byfield stable of publications (Alberta Report):
Although The Western Standard is to some extent playing that role, it is restricted by its newsmagazine format -- which often tends to the superficial -- and its somewhat regional nature.
Not entering into Wegierski's posting is any suggestion that perhaps such a flagship publication for the right never materialized because there wasn't a sufficient audience for it in this country. Perhaps conservatives are also fairly tight with their money, although Conrad Black is reported ot have said in his glory days that he would start a "National Review North". We know how that turned out.

Friday, December 01, 2006

PWAC backs Finkle in opposing demand for Baltovich research

The Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) is supporting Toro editor Derek Finkle in his fight against a court order that he turn over the notes from his book on the Robert Baltovich murder case. Baltovich was convicted of the 1990 murder of his 22-year-old girlfriend, U of T student Elizabeth Bain. The case is being retried after a conviction was overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal and the prosecutors are demanding Finkle's notes and documentation gathered in the course of writing No Claim to Mercy.

“In our view,” says PWAC President Suzanne Boles in a release, “prosecutors are attempting to use a writer’s good and professional work to build their case, and that is not how a free society expects their justice system to act. The principle of source confidentiality must be respected and protected, or our free press unravels.”

Finkle's 1998 book became a Globe and Mail "Book of the Year". In the New York Review of Books it was hailed by Joyce Carol Oates as "original and provocative...a model of investigative journalism." In 2005, Derek won a gold National Magazine Award for his investigative reporting into the Robert Baltovich case.