Thursday, January 18, 2007

Volunteers make a big difference to
small magazines

A lot of magazines in this country rely on volunteers to keep them running; either formally, as in upaid internships; or informally. Statistics Canada's last survey (2003-04) said that there were 5,260 voluntary or unpaid staff working for all kinds of magazines, an average of 2.2 volunteers per magazine.

Of course this is in inverse proportion to the magazine's circulation, with small and special interest titles using the most voluntary labour. Magazines with fewer than 5,000 circulation tend to use an average of 3.6 volunteers. Not-for-profit magazines use an average of 4.

The average volunteers per magazine by province/region are:
  • Atlantic 3
  • Quebec 2.3
  • Ontario 2.1
  • Manitoba 2.6
  • Saskatchewan 2.3
  • Alberta 2.1
  • B.C. 2.1
  • Territories 0.7
This calculation was prompted by the recent release of the Hill Strategies Inc. report on voluntarism in arts and culture in Canada. They found that arts and culture generally enjoyed an average 120 hours of unpaid work from each volunteer, or about 88 million hours from 729,000 volunteers in 2004.

Although we have to be cautious making such extrapolations, it would seem that Canadian magazines would therefore be benefiting from more than 631,000 hours of volunteer labour; it's less than 1% of arts and culture volunteerism, but without it, many literary and cultural magazine simply couldn't exist.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish that it were only literary and cultural journals that relied on unpaid volunteers. Unfortunately, even mainstream publishers like St. Joseph Media rely heavily on unpaid interns to prop up skeleton staffs and keep costs down (on their lesser titles, at least). It's an unconscionable trend, but there will always be eager young writers to fill the intern ranks, and eager, inexperienced editors unwilling to question the use of unpaid labour. At the end of the day, however, you get what you pay for.

10:15 am  

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