Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Deadline for CSME awards looms
-- two weeks to go

Only two weeks left for entries to the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors awards. That's March 14. There are five categories:
  • Magazine of the Year
  • Best Display Writing
  • Best Front-of-Book
  • Editor of the Year
  • Best Trade Magazine (new category)
To find out more and download an entry form, go to the awards page on the website.

British journalists union calls for government probe of exploitation of interns

The National Union of Journalists in Great Britain has called for a government investigation into the exploitation of people on "work experience" in the British media; this is what we tend to call "internships" here. According to a story in the Guardian, Jeremy Dear, the NUJ general secretary, said the union had collected evidence that "some very big names" in the media sector were in breach of minimum wage law.

Mr Dear today delivered a letter to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs naming and shaming employers which the union claims exploit journalists on work experience and discussed the issue with HMRC officials.

The NUJ, which is also today launching its work experience guidelines, is demanding that the government investigate breaches of national minimum wage legislation and take action to force media companies to comply.

Mr Dear's allegations are based on the results of a recent NUJ survey of work placements, which the unions claims revealed "shocking exploitation".

The NUJ is asking journalists who feel they have been badly treated during work experience to email the details to so that the union can pass them on to government.

Nuvo cover features Sophia Loren

Nuvo magazine is trumpeting its coup of having Sophia Loren as its cover subject in its spring 2007 issue, just published; the rather tenuous hook for the supporting story is that the 78-year-old sex and glamour icon is the oldest woman to be in the much-sought-after Pirelli Calendar.

's press release provides us with the factoid that only 100 copies of this calendar are allocated to Canada.

CanWest buys out editor-in-chief
at The New Republic

CanWest now owns 100% of the New Republic. When it bought control, editor-in-chief Martin Peretz was said to be retaining a 25% stake. But according to a story in the New York Observer, that was just a negotiating hiatus and Peretz has now sold his stake, which means that, for the first time in 30 years, he owns nothing of the magazine he edits (at least for now).

There are no guarantees in the sale that Peretz will stay as EIC. Most of the heavy lifting on CanWest's revamp of the magazine is being done by editor Franklin Foer, whom Peretz hired a year ago. (It seems likely that after a decent interval, Peretz will be given emeritus status, perhaps as an editor-at-large and keeping his blog, The Spine.)

According to the Observer story, Foer and art director Joe Heroun are planning to make the magazine much different than its current dour self.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to take this institution that I’ve always worshipped, and try to take it very distinctly in a different kind of direction,” Mr. Foer said.
That direction will be a departure from the current Spartan, college-magazine look.
“Drew Friedman has a column in the makeover,” said Mr. Foer. “We’re going to have a lot of stand-alone pieces from illustrators, artists. One of my ambitions is to experiment with fine art in the magazine, too.”
“We’re adding new little cuts in the magazine, like those little spoon-size illustrations that The New Yorker has,” Mr. Foer said. “We will have original photography in the first issue.”

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Bob Mercer back in the business at Vancouver lifestyle book

Nice to see Bob Mercer back in the game. The magazine publishing instructor at Simon Fraser University (a role he will continue to play) has become editor and art director of VLM (Vancouver Lifestyle Magazine), a glossy, upscale mag, according to a story in mastheadonline (sub req'd).

Mercer was once editor of Vancouver magazine and Calgary magazine, back when they were owned by Comac Communications Limited. And before that, was editor (twice), art director and reporter for Georgia Straight, the alternative weekly. He also worked for a time as design editor and copy editor at the Province, the CanWest tabloid in Vancouver. He's one of the rare editor-art director combinations in the Canadian business, and his magazines tend to look as good as they read, which is always nice.

Transcon information magazines
acquired by IT World Canada

[UPDATE: A very good summary of Transcon's entry into and exit from, the world of IT publishing, is provided on Mastheadonline (sub req'd).]

IT World Canada, a division of technology publishing giant International Data Group (IDG), has announced that is has acquired all the assets of Transcontinental Media's information technology division.

The Transcon titles moving under the IT World banner are Computing Canada, Communications and Networking, Computer Dealer News, Direction Informatique, Technology in Government, Edge, Guide d'Acheteur and Québec Vert, plus the related internet portal

These are now part of a stable of technology print magazines such as CIO Canada, Network World Canada, ComputerWorld Canada, CIO Governments' Review, and IT Focus. IT World Canada also operates a network of IT trade and consumer shows. It operates events like the Lac Carling Congress and a series of executive breakfasts for IT executives.

Parent company IDG publishes more than 300 titles worldwide, in 49 countries.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cruising to a new beginning

What looks like a launch of a brand new Canadian magazine for the dedicated luxury traveller is really a clever rebranding and rebirth. Cruise and Travel Lifestyles is a renovated and repositioned successor to Canadian-owned Cruise Lifestyles. And although the content of the new magazine will cover luxury vacations ashore, about 75% of its pages will still be be cruise-related. The new owner promises it will be full of tips, insider information, ship profiles and resort reviews as well as feature interviews with key players in the industry.

The magazine's publisher, Vanessa Lee, was co-founder and former managing director of Encore Cruises and purchased the Canadian publication Cruise Lifestyles from CTM partners Gerry Kinasz and Michael Butler in December and became publisher and CEO. Lee has spent the last 15 years as a high-profile advocate for cruises (and has some 75 cruises logged in her own passport.) She said in a release:

"We hear again and again that Canada is ready for such a publication. We have superb international content, with a Canadian twist."
Subscriptions are free through blue-chip travel agencies across the country. Interested readers can also subscribe online at There will be two issues in 2007: at the end of March and in September, with quarterly publication planned for 2008. A page in the new magazine costs $5,000 U.S.

(A couple of interesting wrinkles: part of its business model is that national travel advertisers are asked not to put their toll free telephone numbers in their ads, in deference to the travel agencies that are a key part of the distribution strategy. All advertisers have access to a list of the partner agencies in order to facilitate literature and brochure distribution, naturally with the help of Cruise and Travel Lifestyles.)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Are these the 51 best magazines ever?

Good magazine has published online its list of the 51 best magazines ever, an amusing conceit that is based on the opinions of a selected group of magazine mavens and about which (see the comments) there is already some lively discussion concerning titles included or left out.

Of course it should have been headed the "51 greatest AMERICAN magazines" since very few are from outside of the continental United States and none from Canada. The list is introduced by an essay by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter (whom we never fail to identify as having come from Canada).

Carter says, in part:
Magazines—or, rather, certain magazines—aren’t going away anytime soon. They have survived radio, movies, and television. And they have, so far, not perished at the altar of the internet. It will take something not known of today to replace the power of the combination of words and image when, as I have just said, they are aligned by the right hands. Magazines that tell stories in type and pictures will survive the coming electronic revolutions. Magazines that merely deliver information will have to either become stronger and more vital, or drown in the turbulent wakes of change.
The top 10 are:
  • Esquire
  • The New Yorker
  • Life
  • Playboy
  • New York Times magazine
  • Mad
  • Spy
  • Wired
  • Andy Warhol's Interview
  • Colours

Don't count magazines out yet

An article in the New York Review of Magazines lists 5 reasons why magazines are here to stay. (The NYRM is published by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.)

Love for food works as
a recipe for Burnt toast

People can start magazines for many reasons, often because they love their subject. This seems to be the case with the little foodie quarterly called Burnt toast, published out of Ottawa. It's a family affair: Cindy Deachman is the Editor, publisher and usually the artist, Helen Deachman is copy editor and contributor, Bruce Deachman is "Crumbs editor) and writer, Connor Deachman is an artist and so on. Which is not to say that there are not other contributors. But clearly, it's a labour of love, a zine really, done in a family atmosphere and a lot of fun.

Of itself, the magazine says:
Burnt toast looks at the culture of food, what we eat. Aren't human beings awfully odd animals?

Burnt toast discovers what you can buy in Canada. There are interviews with food people. There are biological investigations. Editor/publisher, Cindy Deachman, gets together with friends to taste wine, port, cider, olive oil, Asian snacks, you name it. But there's also a look around the world. See what's been happening in the last little while. Burnt toast doesn't have all that many recipes I'm afraid.

A two-year subscription is $33; one year $17.

The magazine's content can best be exemplified by a feature planned for the forthcoming issue, fueled by a contest for the readers about foods that they only eat when they're alone. First prize is a little Paderno pot. Other content of recent issues includes a feature on purple plums, a green tea tasting and making your own gummy pizza.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

CanWest now owns The New Republic

CanWest Global Communications now owns The New Republic. Without much fanfare, the company bought control by acquiring 50% of the magazine from a pair of investment bankers to add to the 25% they already bought last January. Editor-in-chief Martin Peretz retains 25% . According to a story in the New York Times, CanWest plans major renovations, including reducing the magazine's frequency to every two weeks and increasing the number of pages per issue and the amount of illustration in what has always been a fairly text-heavy and austere publication.
Mr. Peretz said that the takeover by CanWest would help guarantee the magazine’s financial future, [the Times story said].

“It just seemed to me, given my own intellectual and moral synergies with Leonard J. Asper, a very good partnership,” he said, referring to the chief executive of CanWest. Mr. Asper was not available for comment yesterday.

The 97 year old, slightly right-inclined magazine of comment and politics seems an oddball fit for CanWest. For one thing, its circulation has been in freefall since 2000, when it was over 100,000 and now stands at about 60,000.
[S]ome critics have attributed the weakening sales to a murky and sometimes conservative editorial voice, as progressive causes have intensified, particularly in the blogosphere and particularly over the war in Iraq. The New Republic initially supported the war but has since apologized for that support. It also backed Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who lost the Democratic primary in 2006 but retained his seat as an independent during the election.

While the circulation of other liberal magazines, including The Nation and The Progressive, increased after President Bush’s re-election in 2004, that of The New Republic did not.
There is a familiar face at the helm. Greg MacNeil, a consultant to CanWest and the former President of St. Joseph Media (Toronto Life, Fashion, Wedding Bells, Canadian Family), has been the interim publisher of The New Republic since November. He said that CanWest would provide some media-business savvy that the magazine has lacked in recent years:
“It’s a garden that needs watering.”
Not that most Canadians need to be told, but CanWest owns most of the newspapers in Canada and is this country's second-largest broadcaster. (Just yesterday it announced it was increasing its stake in the acquisition of Alliance Atlantis Communications to $200 million. Perhaps this overshadowed the TNR takeover news, which appears nowhere on the CanWest website.)

[UPDATE] Some comment in the bitchy blog Gawker about the decision by The New Republic not to extend subscriptions to compensate for halving frequency; the magazine argues that each issue will be fatter. Hence, fewer, fatter issues for the same price.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Marketing trims back

Marketing magazine, whose long-time editor Stan Sutter was recently fired, will be changing substantially in the next while, probably in reaction to similarly substantial changes in the sector. "We are looking at every aspect of the publication," said John Milne, Rogers Publishing senior vice-president, Business & Professional Publishing Group and publisher of Marketing. "Many things are evolving and some aspects are getting major changes."

The 10,000 circulation magazine, which claims a readership of 75,000 and is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, moved to a 24-times a year frequency effective January according to its 2007 media kit. It has for many years been regarded as a weekly, though it more recently came out 41 times a year.

It will now be trimmed in size to a slightly oversized magazine format (11¼ x 16½ inches), with an increase in paper stock to 60 lb. starting in April. There are also changes to Marketing Daily, the news service that is posted online and e-mailed to subscribers. A blog is also being launched built on the Mark Etting Street Talk column.

Marketing's competitor, Strategy (Brunico Communications), has been publishing a digital edition and has substantially ramped up coverage in its Media in Canada e-bulletin lately.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Osprey continues to struggle with ads
and unit value

Osprey Media Income Fund, an owners of small daily and weekly newspapers and small magazines, has written down about$170 million of its value, blaming a slumping advertising market, particularly automotive.

The company has seen the price of its units steadily erode, threatening its ability to make the kinds of distributions that keep people happy with income trusts. Last fall, the value of its units fell by 15% when the federal government announced that such trusts would be taxed, starting in 1011. Yesterday, the value of the units was $5.73, which is half what they once were. So far, the company is still paying out about $0.64 cents a unit, but there is some question about how long that can continue, given the 2006 loss of $113.4 million.

Osprey president and CEO Michael Sifton shone the brightest light he could on the situation by noting that the company had been able to post revenue growth of $7.2 million, or about 3.4 per cent for the year.

See earlier post about this company.

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Things are a bit different up here; you can say that again

Up Here, the lifestyle magazine published out of Yellowknife, is promoting itself with a TV ad that says, as the ad tagline puts it "Things are a bit different Up Here." It shows people playing volleyball and cards on a snowswept plain, wearing rabbit fur gloves. The ad is to run starting the end of this week and over the next two or three weeks on TSN and APTN.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wanna buy a magazine? Please?

There are many sources of magazine subscriptions, including the term "agency", which can mean many kinds of independent sales methods. One of these is door-to-door sales. And while conditions in the U.S. can be quite different than in Canada, and only a very small proportion of subscriptions are sold this way, that doesn't make an investigative report of the practise in the New York Times any less disturbing. See for yourself.

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Tribute magazine bumped out
of Cineplex cinemas

The movie magazine Tribute loses half its circulation outlets with the substitution of Famous magazine in 128 Cineplex Odeon theatres,starting in March, according to a story in Media in Canada. Famous Magazine's circulation will now be over 650,000 copies. The readership per issue is estimated to be 1.5 million, but that could jump to two million with the March issue. Its French counterpart Famous Quebec's circulation is expected to rise to 150,000 with readership jumping to 285,000, based on PMB numbers.Cineplex Entertainment's 128 theatres serve about 60 million movie-goers annually with 1,290 screens.

The change was not unexpected after Cineplex Galaxy bought Famous Players.

Independently published Tribute (which also published Teen Tribute and Kids Tribute) still expects to publish 500,000 copies monthly for distribution in theater chains: AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Cinemas Guzzo, Empire Theaters, Magic Lantern and Landmark Cinemas.
[Tribute CEO] Stewart has not dropped ad rates, but will do more integrated media sales between the magazine and the website, which gets 1.1 million unique hits per month. The company has also signed a distribution deal to launch the magazine in five large theatre chains in the US. "If we are to grow the company, we have to go beyond our borders," says Stewart.

Remi Marcoux of Transcon named to the Order of Canada

Remi Marcoux, the founder of the multi-media printing conglomerate that dominates the world of Canadian consumer magazine publishing, has been named to the Order of Canada.

Marcoux took a step back from active management in 2004, before which he was president and CEO of Transcontinental. He is now executive chairman of the board and two of his children are now part of the executive suite running the company. He and his family continue to wield enormous influence.

Transcon makes more from printing flyers than from the approximately 25% of the turnover that is due to consumer magazines; still, the Transcon brand is on such heavy hitters as Canadian Living, Homemakers, Elle Canada, Elle Quebec, Style at Home, Canadian Home & Country, Outdoor Canada, The Hockey News and so on. His company is about to launch a joint venture Canadian edition of More magazine in partnerhip with the biggest hitter of them all -- Meredith (Better Homes & Gardens) Corporation.

Marcoux bought a small printing operation with $3 million in sales in 1976 and now the company has 14,000 employees and sales (in 2005) of $2.2 billion.


Flipping advertising to girls

“It’s not like anything we’ve done before in that, with this, we don’t have to follow the ASME guidelines on separation of church and state. It’s a very innovative way to market the site and a real pull to advertisers.”
-- Dee Salomon, senior vice president of sales and marketing for CondeNet
This somewhat offhanded dismissal of ad:edit guidelines as a nuisance was made in reference to the Condé Nast launch just two weeks ago, through its online division, of According to a story in Folio:, allows young people to make their own "flip books" from all sorts of content and intersperse it with advertising from the likes of cosmetics from Vera Wang, PacSun juices and the Nordstrom department store.

The marketing strategy was two-fold, said the article.
First, CondeNet wanted to deliver to its advertisers a certain age demographic – girls between the ages of 13 and 19. And, second, it wanted to deliver to advertisers a certain psycho-demographic – girls who are creative and artistic. “The advertisers we’ve shown it to are more upscale advertisers who know they want to reach girls in the digital space and haven’t felt safe in other social networking sites whose audiences are not as targeted,” says Salomon.
Doesn't this mean that Condé Nast, the parent of CondeNet and the publishers of Vogue, Glamour, The New Yorker,Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest, Wired and many other well-known magazines are getting readers to do their own product placement?
To get the word out about the new site,says Folio:, CondeNet has advertised in Teen Vogue, and launched a direct marketing campaign to Teen Vogue's 96,000 "It Girl" members. Since it launched February 6, more than 4,000 flip books have been created and users have started more than 500 clubs.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Toro's last issue posted online

The staff of Toro magazine have posted its last issue online for all to see, stripped of most ads. At the time of the announced closure of Toro, it was said that the magazine's March issue would not be distributed. Well, a way was found, and we are grateful for the opportunity to see what might have been...

Monday, February 19, 2007

British mag industry to release
comprehensive sub study

The Periodical Publishers Association (PPA) of Great Britain have carried out a major research campaign about the views about magazine subscriptions called The Loyalty Challenge: How Consumer Subscriptions Work. It's to be launched next month with a series of events starting March 19, at which point advanced copies of the document will be made available to registrants. The printed report will be available for publishers on 16 April.

A sample of almost 5,000 subscribers and non-subscribers was used to survey attitudes and behaviour towards magazine subscriptions. The report also contains what the PPA calls "crucial eye-openers from customer focus group sessions".

This is interesting, but in a way surprising, since the British system of distribution relies so heavily on single copy sales or reservations of copies at news agents. Whereas Canada, where circulation success depends on subscription sales, has never (as far as I know) done a broadly based and independent study like this.

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Intervenors sought in support
of accessible TV license

Steve Trumper, former managing editor at Toronto Life, now a magazine instructor at Ryerson, has asked (through a post to the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers list) for backing (moral, rather than financial) for a project in which he's deeply involved through an organization called VoicePrint Canada.

He's asking people to intervene in support of a license application before the CRTC for a new, digital specialty channel to be called The Accessible Channel. Trumper even came up with the tagline: News. Entertainment. Inclusion.

It would broadcast a wide range of programming from major networks in both “closed-captioned” and “described” formats. The one, you're probably familiar with, with text running at the bottom of the screen. The other involves (well, I'll let Steve explain):
For those unfamiliar with description, it is a process by which a narrative description of the “visual elements” of a TV show (news and entertainment) or movie production are added to a soundtrack, painting a picture in words of what is going on “on screen.” Similar to close captioning, which allows people who are hearing impaired to access movie and TV dialogue; description transforms images into words so blind and low vision viewers can experience television and movies, to
Time is of the essence; the deadline for submissions in March 8. Full details on how to intervene are available on the VoicePrint Canada website.

Small titles finding it harder and
harder at Indigo

One of the paradoxes of single copy sales of magazines is that you have to waste magazines to sell them. The average consumer magazine in this country sells less than 40 out of every 100 copies in its "draw", the magazines that are sent through wholesalers to the retail stores. The rest are eventually shredded.

Magazines haven't been able to find a better way to get to miscellaneous individual buyers, though their hope (as evidenced by those annoying blow-in cards) is to convert them to subscribers. The whole setup is particularly difficult for small magazines which wrestle with yet another paradox -- that if you don't put enough copies on the newsstand, you get poorer display and sell even fewer copies. Still, most small magazines (in this country that's any one with <5,000 circulation) do their best.

However, last year the company that controls a large proportion of the newsstands in this country, Chapters/Indigo, announced that it was no longer interested in handling the returns of magazines that sell less than 50% of their draw.

Small publishers have been waiting with some anxiety for the next shoe to drop and it appears it has. Publishers are getting notification that their draws are being cut back. Which is where the paradox really kicks in. If you used to put 500 copies on the racks at Indigo and sold 200 (40%), now you'll be allowed to put something like 375. If you somehow achieved a 'sell-through' of 50%, which would make Indigo happy, you'd only sell 188 copies.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Complaint against Western Standard stalled for a year, so far

Almost one year ago, the Western Standard was the target of a complaint by Syed Soharwardy, President of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada to the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal. It was about the Standard's decision to publish the "Danish" cartoons lampooning Muslims. Mr. Sayed wanted to have Levant arrested, but had to settle for the tribunal complaint.

Today, almost a year later, there has not even been a hearing into the case, according to publisher Ezra Levant who says "they offered us a plea bargain, which we rejected." The case is therefore still pending.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tyler Brûlé's Monocle debuts
Monday in Canada

Expatriate Canadian wunderkind Tyler Brûlé launched his new magazine Monocle on Thursday in London; copies should be available Monday in Canada, priced at about $12 a copy, according to a story on The Winnipeg-born visionary behind the distinctive title Wallpaper* (now owned by Time Inc.) could be said to have taken Wallpaper's style and annealed it to serious news, mostly financial. Like Wallpaper, it has a resolutely worldwide outlook. (Photo: CBC)

The 200-page premier issue has stories about Japan's defence forces, a Q&A with the chief executive of Lego and a cultural report about Afghan music."I think what people will get when they read Monocle is a truly global title which doesn't live along national boundaries and I think so much media is regionalized today," Brûlé said in an interview with CBC Television. The more indepth, serious approach should appeal to people dealing with multiple cultures, he said...
"I think this magazine will speak to Canadians as much as it will speak to Australians and Japanese," Brûlé said, adding that it's not just for the jetset.

"This is also for someone who might live up in Scotland or someone who lives in Manitoba who just wants quality coverage as well."

Brûlé, who started Wallpaper in 1996 and sold it the following year for $1.63 million, is well aware of the risk of starting a new magazine, but his forecasts are optimistic.

He expects Monocle will be selling 200,000 copies within six months.

MagsCan projects among 14
cluster fund recipients

Fourteen Recipients of a total of $1.8 million in the first round of grants under Ontario's Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund were announced today.

Among them were two projects in which Magazines Canada is a partner:
  • Web Weekend -- in which Magazines Canada is the lead partner, with Centennial College as the secondary partner in developing a series of two-day itensive digital training programs across Canada, specifically for magazine publishing professionals
  • Ontario Cultural Portal Blueprint -- in which Magazines Canada is a secondary partner with the lead taken by the Organization of Book Publishers of Ontario to explore the feasibility of a web portal through which users could sample and shop for Canadian cultural content
For full details of the projects approved and the partners involved, go to the OMDC website.

The announcement was made by Hon. Caroline Di Cocco, Minister of Culture and Kevin Shea, Chair of Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC).

"This fund demonstrates Ontario's commitment to supporting our vital entertainment and creative industries, which contribute over $6.7 billion annually to the province's economy and support 36,000 jobs," said Di Cocco. "These projects will help further establish Ontario's creative and entertainment industries as world leaders."

"The investment in Ontario's cultural industries is geared to creating growth in this important economic sector," said Shea. "These 14 initiatives represent more than 55 companies, institutions and organizations from Ontario's book and magazine, film and television, music and interactive digital media cluster." OMDC administers the fund on behalf of the Ministry of

The three-year $7.5 million fund was launched in September 2006 to stimulate growth in Ontario's entertainment and creative industries by promoting capacity building, marketing innovation and skills development.

Quote, unquote

The New York Times's David Carr, reporting on the shrinking of the previously proudly broadsheet New York Observer (a paper I liked a lot) to a tabloid:

"There is good news to be found in the redesign. It is still pinkish, and still plays host to some terrific writing, annotated by cheeky headlines and pointillistic graphics.

But reading the new Observer also provides a palpable feeling of loss. In most precincts of New York City you can get away with anything as long as you dress well, and The Observer managed through the years to be the nicely appointed skunk at the metropolitan garden party. The Observer used the conventions of the broadsheet, with its stacked headlines and narrow columns, to play against type: it unleashed a waterfall of improbable display language splattered with exclamation points, ellipses and question marks that created a libretto before the reader even started the article. In its broadsheet incarnation — with the wingspan of a Cessna, it enrolled adjoining commuters in the reading experience whether or not they liked it — there was a majesty and idiosyncrasy to the endeavor. The cover illustrations generally said it all: huge noggins screwed onto little bodies, advertising a kind of gigantism that a tabloid could not convey."

[UPDATE] For a flip-book of the new look of the Observer,go here.

Lord Black holds forth at U of T

Conrad Black took a tutorial with the Culture and the Media in Canada class at University College at the University of Toronto yesterday, according to an article by Matthew Katz in The Varsity, the student paper.

Despite the demands on his time what with all the legal matters occupying him, Lord Black of Crossharbour spoke and submitted himself to the questions of the members of the class (which is led by Globe and Mail columnist Rick Salutin).
He began his address by lamenting the "certain incongruity" between the tendency of journalists to hold themselves up as members of the learned class, yet at the same presenting themselves as belonging to the working class.

He added soon afterward that he "finds the affectation of journalism amounting to a learned profession to be tiresome. Journalism still is more or less a craft -- with variable judgment criteria. There is no yardstick to measure them against others."

He mentioned, however, that most journalists are pleasant, even interesting, people and that he is "not trying to demonize them, rather [he is] pointing out anomalies."
On the distinction between comment and reporting, the story went on:
"There is a much-discussed bugbear in the distinction between comment and reporting. We have a natural instinct to include our commentary -- a gratuitous opinion in anything we write. But it can be very much a distortion." He said that competent editors must safeguard this distinction.

Black said this task must also be taken up by publishers, who are at the "apex of editorial and commercial interests."

"The best course is to try and have commercial management encourage good, professional standards. Otherwise, it's like the CEO of an auto company not caring about the quality of his products." Black said. He said the role of management in the editorial office should be "protecting the integrity of the product."

At the same time, Black said that newspapers should have an ideology, "but you need to try to keep it out of the reporting."

British ABC results report that
news mags are hot

British ABC results show that news-oriented magazines are doing very well in circulation compared with other categories, according to a story in the U.K. Press Gazette.
While newspapers are taking circulation hits across the board, news magazines appear to be in rude health, according to the official ABC magazine circulation figures for the second half of 2006.

Dennis Publishing’s The Week continues to go from strength to strength and rose 24.6 per cent year-on-year to 134,803.

The New Statesman was another huge winner, rising 21.4 per cent on the back of a radical relaunch under new editor John Kampfner early last year.

Private Eye as ever remains an incredibly strong circulation performer. With no website, zero production values and a stubbornly old fashioned layout, it still shifts 208,579 copies every fortnight (up two per cent year-on-year) with its mix of satire, humour and hard news investigations.

The Economist also had a great second half of 2006, the UK edition rose 7.5 per cent to 170,038.

Single copy sales of Maclean's
show that the Whyte touch works

Maclean's magazine publisher and editor Ken Whyte said that he placed great stock in single copy sales as a metric for the success of his shakeup of the magazine. While the magazine is still in the process of "managing down" its subscriber base to the vicinity of 350,000, which he thinks is optimum, there is no question that his provocative direction of the magazine's cover stories has had the desired effect on the newsstand.

According to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations FAS-FAX data for Canada, as reported in Masthead magazine (sub req'd), Maclean's was on of the top 10 single copy sales gainers in the last six months of 2006, up 25%. Other top gainers were Canadian Home & Country, Elle Canada, Today’s Parent and Applied Arts.

The data for the top 10 single copy gainers was as follows:


% Increase Actual copies































You media guys need a shakeup, say U.S. advertising buyers

A survey about investment expectations in the U.S., carred out by the American Advertising Federation (AAF) says that executives think traditional media categories like magazines are in need of a shakeup; 46 per cent of those surveyed say that business magazines need to innovate if they are to remain competitive, followed (in descending order) by:
  • Women's Service (25 percent)
  • Fashion and Beauty (18.8 percent)
  • Men's (17 percent)
  • Shelter (12.5 percent)
73% of the respondents said that 20% of their budgets is now reserved for experimentation in new media and more than 12% said they reserved up to 40%, money that would otherwise have gone to traditional media like magazines.

An overwhelming majority of respondents (87%) said that they felt the pace and scope of innovation in the marketplace encouraged creativity.
  • 78% said "I am always open to new ways to use traditional media"
  • 75% said "the right media mix almost always includes a balance of traditional and nontraditional media" and
  • 58% said "the search for new media properties to grow my brand never stops"
The AAF Media Investment Survey 2007 questioned close to one thousand advertising industry leaders in the U.S., spread across agency (38 percent), media (26.9 percent), advertiser/client (13.6 percent) and other (21.4 percent, composed mostly of suppliers and academics) sectors, with the majority being at the director (19 percent), owner (18 percent) or manager (17.6 percent) level. Nearly 31 percent of participants are part of a team that makes the final media investment decision for their company.

If you want to see the whole PowerPoint presentation of the survey results (only part of which relates to magazines) you can dowload it here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Radar editor-at-large Dale Hrabi to be keynote speaker at AMPA conference

Dale Hrabi, the editor-at-large for the resuscitated New York-based magazine Radar, will be the keynote speaker at the Alberta Magazines Conference. Hrabi, former creative director at Maxim and Details and former creative editor at Madamoiselle, will talk about branding and packaging.

The conference is hosted by the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association (AMPA), March 9 and 10 at Calgary's Radisson Hotel Airport. Among the other presenters are National Magazine Award-winning publisher and editor Derek Webster of Montreal’s Maisonneuve magazine, and local editorial savant, Val Fortney, writing for Swerve, Readers Digest and Chatelaine.

The conference kicks off Friday night with a banquet emceed by CBC’s David Gray and featuring World Champion hoop dancer, Dallas Arcand, and guest speaker, Aritha van Herk, renowned Alberta novelist, writer and teacher. Seminars are held Saturday covering several aspects of magazine publishing: best business practices, editorial, circulation, ad sales and design. There will also be the Alberta Magazines Showcase, where attendees vote for their favourite magazine features, layouts, covers and more.

“The Alberta Magazines Conference is where magazine professionals at all levels can come learn firsthand from experts, hone their skills and network with their peers,” says AMPA Executive Director, Colleen Seto. “As part of AMPA’s mission to provide valuable professional development, the conference serves as the ideal meeting ground for Alberta publishers to gain insights about how to tackle today’s publishing challenges and give their magazines new verve.”

For more information, to dowload a brochure and to register online, go to You can also call 403-262-0081 or e-mail Colleen Seto at

Mixed results in U.S. single copy sales

The latest FAS-FAX analysis from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, reported in Folio: shows that some, but by no means all, well-known titles suffered a significant single copy sales decline in the second half of 2006. Cosmopolitan was down 5.8 per cent, Glamour down 7.06, Woman's Day off 19.6, Maxim off 12.4. Despite its almost 6 percent decline in sales, Cosmopolitan closed out the second half of 2006 as the biggest newsstand seller.

Celebrity weekly People came in second with almost 1.6 million copies sold at the newsstand per issue, up 2.08 percent from a little over 1.5 million copies in the same period a year earlier. Women’s World was the top seller in the women’s magazine category with 1.4 million copies per issue, down 2.8 percent from almost 1.45 a year earlier. And Woman’s Day saw an almost 20 percent decline in single copy sales – the largest of the period – selling 685,250 copies, down from 856,125 in the second half of 2005.

The biggest gainer of period was low-cost Life & Style Weekly, which saw its single copy sales climb 25.25 percent to 744,453, up from 594,358 in 2005. Fellow $1.99 magazine, In Touch Weekly continued to make gains at the newsstand to claim the number 5 spot on the list top newsstand sellers moving an average of 1.2 million an issue, up 7.7 percent from 1.14 million in the second half of 2005. US Weekly came in sixth place with 978,285 copies, up from 954,892 in the second half of 2005.

[UPDATE: A good summary of the subs and single copy results of FAS-FAX was published by MediaDaily News, showing that shelter, bridal and family magazines are struggling.

[further UPDATE] A story in the U.K Press Gazette says that ABC results there indicate that male-oriented gadget mags (like Driven, here in Canada) are on a roll, but men's lifestyle magazines like Maxim, Loaded and Area have taken a tumble.

Driven says it's no Toro

Perhaps it is just self-defence against any fallout in the ad marketplace from the death of Toro. Perhaps it was dancing on Toro's grave. But Driven, a Canadian men's magazine, issued a press release yesterday to say why it is more successful than its now-dead "primary competitor":
The failure of other men's lifestyle publications in the Canadian magazine marketplace is further validation of Driven Magazine's editorial concept. Driven attracts affluent male readers with its unique combination of fashion, technology, travel, lifestyle and automotive content.
The release quoted founding partner and editor-in-chief Michael La Fave:
"We've always been confident that men want to read about what's new in fashion, technology, watches and cars. The failure of our primary competitor does not lend credence to the theory that men won't read about products...only that despite offering a quality publication, Toro failed to assess exactly what men are interested in."
Driven, which is published out of Toronto, uses exactly the same circulation method as Toro: 150,000 copies circulated 6 times a year to selected recipients of the Globe and Mail. Plus copies on Air Canada and on newsstands. Its full page rate is $13,925. Editorially, it is much more of a "toys for the boys" book, with less emphasis on journalism. And that may be their point.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lefebvre leaves coup de pouce to become editor-in-chief at Châtelaine

Rogers Publishing Ltd., a subsidiary of Rogers Communications Inc., has appointed France Lefebvre as editor-in-chief at Châtelaine.

Lefebvre had been editor-in-chief of coup de pouce, the French language companion to Transcontinental's Canadian Living for the past eight years. She had been with the magazine in various capacities since 1995. Previous to that she was editor-in-chief at Fleurs, plantes et jardins and worked in television and radio.

Châtelaine's paid circulation is about 200,000.

Wonder where the money went? GM cut one-quarter of its adspend last year

One of the most subtantial legs supporting magazine advertising has been significantly whittled away. General Motors, according to TNS Media Intelligence, slashed more than $600 million, or almost a quarter, of its ad spending last year. This, according to a story in Advertising Age.

The story pointed out that the cut was greater than the total advertising spending of Nike or Volkswagen.

GM said that its cut was only 10%, but TNS stands by its methodology which was the same year over year. Even 10% is a huge blow to so-called "traditional media".
Whether the cut was as large as the 23.6% indicated by TNS or closer to the 10% estimated by GM, the fact is that the country's second-largest advertiser is demonstrating a shift toward channels such as direct marketing, websites, online video, event marketing, branded entertainment and internet advertising, which are harder to track than the other major media channels. That could have major repercussions, not only for "old" media companies, underscoring their need to accelerate the shift to digital platforms, but also for ad agencies whose direct and digital siblings increasingly outstrip them in revenue and who may be tempted to reunite those growing units with their stagnating ad offerings.
The GM data gathered by TNS is largely U.S. but reflects a proportional cut in Canada since GM has an integrated approach to ad spending. For many of the key titles in the Canadian consumer market, automotive advertising is an important contributor.

Is there a golden future for Zinio?

Zinio Systems has been purchased by a private equity company backed by David H. Gilmour, the co-founder of Canadian-based Barrick Gold Corporation, the world's number 1 gold producer, who clearly sees a future in non-paper publishing. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Zinio is one of the larger (it would say 'leading') companies involved in publishing and distribution of digital magazines and e-books. The San Francisco-based company manages the distribution of a portfolio of 1,200 digital magazines and books from more than 240 publishers. Two Canadian magazines that are on Zinio's menu are Maclean's and The Western Standard. The company says it has distributed more than 65 million items since 2002 on behalf of client publishing companies such as McGraw-Hill, Playboy Enterprises, Primedia, Rogers Publishing, Transcontinental Media, World Publications and Ziff Davis.
"The acquisition was based on vision, timing and the extraordinary ability and passion of the people at Zinio," said Gilmour, in a news release. "The company represents the most important fundamental change in the last 150 years of publishing and distribution. Zinio is the solution to the problems of waste, pollution and escalating costs in conventional print publishing. This technology has initiated change and provides for a new era of interactive media that eclipses the flat world of publishing today."
Gilmour was co-founder of Barrick Gold Corporation with his longtime partner, Peter Munk, and Horsham Corporation, which became TrizecHahn, an enormous, publicly traded real estate investment trust. Last year, he founded VIV Publishing LLC, which publishes the first all-digital healthy lifestyle publication for women called VIV Magazine.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Annex gets noticed for its acquiring ways

Annex Publishing & Printing Inc., which has made a tidy business out of publishing small, specialized trade magazines out of the decidedly non-magazine location of Simcoe, Ontario, was highlighted in a "Mover of the Week" feature in the National Post on Monday.

The Post story catches up on the news that Annex, a 10-year-old company which now owns 26 titles, is aggressively growing by acquisition, having recently picked up11,000 circ. Aggregates & Roadbuilding Magazine from Edmonton-based Franmore Communications Inc. early last month and then Vancouver-based Manure Manager from Manure Managers Partnership. The former magazine targets about 11,000 roadbuilders and gravel companies, the latter, the livestock industry, owners and managers who deal with manure issues and make critical decisions on equipment purchases. nnex president Mike Fredericks says he expects to announce yet another magazine acquisition this month.

In addition to printing its own titles, Annex prints another 65 North American- based publications at its Simcoe plant for third parties.

Annex publishes such small, but tightly focussed titles as Canadian Vending, Greenhouse Canada, Canadian Florist and Canadian Pizza Magazine. They serve niches that are either overlooked entirely by others or are considered to have circulation that is too small (almost all its titles have less than 10,000 per issue circulation).

"In all cases, these magazines complete our existing list of titles and offer the opportunity to create synergies," Fredericks told the Post. "We can foresee continuing to expand our magazine operations both through acquisitions and start-ups and through third-party printing contracts well through this decade."

Toro magazine folds

The trend information didn't apparently add up for Christopher Bratty, the scion of the condominium kingpin Rudy Bratty. Because he has decided to discontinue Toro magazine, effective immediately. The March issue, well into production, will not be printed or distributed in the usual way, through the Globe and Mail. (Shown is Toro's November 2006 issue.)

The announcement by Publisher Dinah Quattrin, attributed the decision to not enough ads and not enough prospects of them; although that is paraphrasing, Toro (as a controlled circulation, newspaper-delivered title) depended wholly on ad revenue with only negligible income from subscriptions.
"Despite steady annual growth, it's become clear that the advertising revenue available in Canada for a general-interest men's magazine is such that even a very high-quality book like Toro can, at best, manage to sustain itself," Quattrin said."Sadly, the limited advertising pool in the men's category, combined with rising operating costs and a lack of government funding, made it impossible to continue on."

Toro has tried all sorts of methods to gain sustained, long-term support from national advertisers, but, in the end, there weren't enough of them and Mr. Bratty pulled the plug, probably with much reluctance.

The magazine has a qualified circulation of 185,000 and 1,500 single copy sales, according to its latest audit statement. It had 1,200 paid subscriptions. 66.2% of its circulation was in Ontario, 14% in British Columbia and 8.8% in Quebec

Part of the magazine's problem may have been its method of distribution, which meant that, despite careful segmentation, some portion of the copies went to people who were either not interested or were not part of their target audience. With a large, controlled audience, it was also free to people who otherwise might have been paid subscribers.

The magazine, which launched in April, 2003, had been not only an award-winner, with a handsome and gutsy presentation, but will be missed because it was one of lamentably few well-paying markets for Canadian freelancers. Those whose work is now not to appear will apparently be compensated, which will be cold comfort.

Toro's approximately 25 staff were told of the closure Monday afternoon.

As the congregations shrink,
so shrinks the United Church Observer

The United Church Observer is more like a trade than a consumer magazines because its fortunes depend on the industry -- or in this case, the denomination -- to which it is attached.

According to the Observer (an article available only in the print edition), the United Church membership has been declining at about 2 per cent a year since 2000, when it was about 651,000. In 2005, it declined by 3.4 per cent to 573,424. Surprisingly, despite the slow decline in number, fundraising was actually up by 1 per cent in 2005, to $374 million.

The Observer's audited circulation has also been declining about 5% a year recently: In 2002, it was 82,464; it is now (2006) claiming 65,859, a decline of 16,605 (20%).

Virtually all of the Observer's current total qualified circulation is sponsored, that is paid for by individual congregations across the country and mailed individually addressed to its members. As of September 2006, it sold 1,725 individual subscriptions.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Holding Conrad Black's
defenders to account

There's something about Conrad Black that causes a tendency to excess poundage. Black's own books, like his on Roosevelt and Duplessis, were doorstoppers of gargantuan proportions. His legal troubles are being played out on a grand scale. A vigorous defence of Black appeared -- 25,000 words worth -- the Books in Canada magazine's December issue, penned by BIC publisher Adrian and editor Olga Stein (the whole piece is not yet posted online). And recently, an analysis and criticism of the genesis and intent of that article runs for page after page on the website Dooney's Café.

The critique is authored by Brian Fawcett, sharing credit to Stan Persky. Fawcett, while acknowledging that the topic may be interpreted as being within the magazine's mandate, does a pretty fair job of dismantling the Steins' logic and arguments. If you've read the BIC article, you'll find the analysis interesting. If you haven't, you'll probably find yourself saying "My, big aren't they?"

The Steins are not alone. You might like to look at Support Lord Black, a website where people can declare their support for the beleagured peer.

Canada Council for the Arts turns 50

Since it is celebrated all year, I guess these are not belated good wishes to the Canada Council for the Arts on its 50th anniversary. The CC has put up a special website to mark the occasion and it is well worth viewing.

The Council was started in 1957 at the urgings of the Massey Commission, and with the stealthy intervention of some well-placed mandarins, using the $50 million proceeds of the death taxes on the estates of two tycoons. (To read some background, you could go to an article in the current issue of The Beaver called "Canada's Highbrow Bastion", by historian Paul Litt.)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Writers groups stand with Toro editor against subpoena in Baltovich case

The professional writing community is coming together in support of Toro editor Derek Finkle who has been subpoenaed to turn over to the court all of his research materials for the book No Claim to Mercy. Mr. Finkle wrote the book about the original trial of Robert Baltovich for the murder of his girlfriend Elizabeth Bain. Baltovich is out on bail while appealing his conviction.

The Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) has joined with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), PEN Canada and The Writers Union of Canada (TWUC) as official interveners in a hearing to be held February 19 concerning the subpoena.

The writers' organizations contend that neither the prosecution nor the defence should use Finkle's confidential background notes and interviews, but rather should do their own investigative work and present it at trial.

"A writer working within an established principle of a separate and free press," says PWAC Executive Director John Degen, "is being forced to choose between respecting the courts and protecting his career. As a society, we should refuse to subject our journalists to such unfair pressure."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Laurie Alpern to handle FIPP communications

Laurie Alpern, the communications director of Magazines Canada who a few months ago followed her heart to London, Eng., has fetched up as editorial and communications manager of the The International Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP). The association has a membership of 255 in 57 countries, which consist of 43 national associations (including Magazines Canada), 154 publishing member companies, 53 associate members and 5 individual members. It represents more than 110,000 magazine titles.

Laurie spent two years at MagsCan, and was responsible for the transition of its brand change from the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association. Before that, she was the Canadian Tennis Association’s communications manager. Born in Montreal and raised in Toronto, Canada, it's easy to see why her skills in an international organization will come in handy: Laurie speaks English, French and Spanish, and holds degrees in Spanish and journalism.

Western Magazine Awards deadline looms

Prospective entrants to the Western Magazine Awards have just over a week to get it together. The deadline is Friday, February 16. Details can be found at the website in the "How To Submit" section. The Awards will be held on Friday, June 22nd in Vancouver.

The WMAs now require visual and written entries to be submitted on disc in either JPG or PDF format, although hard-copy format for written entries will be accepted.

The New Quarterly, Border Crossings, PRISM International are Journey finalists

Finalists for the Writers' Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize have been announced. (The $10,000 prize was made possible by writer James A. Michener's donation of his royalties from his 1988 novel Journey. It is for the best short story or excerpt from a novel-in-progress by a new and developing writer that had its first publication in a Canadian literary journal in the previous year. The journal which publishes the winning entry receives $2,000.)

The finalists are:
  • Heather Birrell (Toronto) for “BriannaSusannaAlana,” published in The New Quarterly
  • Lee Henderson (Vancouver) for “Conjugation,” published in Border Crossings
  • Martin West (Calgary) for “Cretacea,” published in PRISM international
The winner will be named March 7 at a gala ceremony in Toronto.

Jurors were Steven Galloway (Vancouver), Zsuzsi Gartner (Vancouver), and Annabel Lyon (Vancouver).

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Toronto Life asks readers to pick
its April cover

Toronto Life is asking its readers, or at least subscribers to its e-letter(s), to help them pick their April cover. They are asked to complete a 5-minute survey and as an incentive, are entered into a random draw for a $200 Sears gift certificate. The request to complete the survey is signed by Clarence Poirier, the VP, Research at St. Joseph Media.

The virtual focus group gives the participants three covers to choose from.

U.S. Newsweek provides
"tobacco-ad-free" editions

This is purely of academic interest in Canada, where tobacco advertising has been banned for years, but U.S. subscribers to Newsweek can apparently now request tobacco-ad-free issues of the magazine, according to a story in the St. Petersburg Times. These selectively bound issues have been available for quite some time to schools, but apparently they are available to ordinary subscribers, too.
Magazines don't typically look to remove advertising from their pages. But that is what Newsweek promises with an advertisement for "tobacco ad-free" editions that was published in the New York Times. The ad, however, wasn't placed by Newsweek, but by antismoking organizations Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island and NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City. Newsweek has been offering schools a version of its magazine without tobacco advertising, but isn't advertising the alternative versions to the public. A spokeswoman, however, said the magazine will send copies to individual subscribers who request them.
(Readers of a certain age will remember when tobacco ads were magazine mainstays in Canada, too, particularly for newspaper supplements like Weekend and Canadian (Today). The Canadian magazine industry has bridled for years because U.S. subscriptions could come into Canada with their tobacco ads (and, for that matter, their prescription drug ads) intact even though they were forbidden by law.)

Changes at The Beaver

The editor of The Beaver: Canada's History Magazine, based in Winnipeg, Doug Whiteway, and the associate editor, Jennifer Nault, have resigned.

Their resignations are but the latest example of a great deal of change at the venerable magazine (86 years old), which is published by Canada's National History Society. In recent months, Catherine Burns, the Director of Finance and Development, left to go into business and technology consulting and Gale Whiteside, the Manager of Member Services also resigned. Ian McKelvie, a well-known circulation expert, formerly of Canadian Geographic, recently joined the Society as its newly-titled Director of Marketing, working out of Ottawa. At sister publication, the children's history magazine Kayak, a new editorial team has joined, with Jill Foran as Editor and Bryan Pezzi as art director, based in Calgary.

Monday, February 05, 2007

It depends on the audience, we suppose

Paul Wells, the lead columnist for Maclean's, also a well-known and respected blogger (Inkless Wells), begged off talking about magzine blogs to an industry audience at MagNet in June because he said he was sick of talking about blogs. However, we note that he is speaking about just that to a group of public relations people in Ottawa on the third Monday in February:
Paul’s Inkless Wells blog is an agenda setter in Canada’s capital. He posts on events - before they happen, while they are happening and or soon after they conclude - with an immediacy, insight and wit that makes him a must-read for other political bloggers, journalists and politicians. For many people, it’s Paul’s blog that sustains top of mind awareness for Maclean’s, the weekly news magazine for which he writes a column. And to keep a weekly outlet relevant is a real accomplishment in the post-deadline age.

Enhancing the "sponsor-driven" experience

2 magazine, the couples magazine which launched a few years ago with a $75,000 boost from the Ontario Media Development Corporation, has created an online video series based on its "Couple Makeovers" feature in the print magazine, according to a story in Media in Canada. (The magazine has become known for its unabashed selling of product placement in the pictorial spreads.)
The new fly-on-the-wall documentary style series gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the process and personalities involved in the sponsorship-driven experience. Eight four to seven minute episodes (one per week) will be made available for free download from, sponsors' sites, iTunes, and Yahoo! Canada. The first episode launches with the release of the spring issue on March 25. A trailer will be released in mid-February for marketers and agencies to preview the concept.

Current sponsors of the "Couple Makeovers" include Club Med, Tommy Hilfiger and Crest Whitestrips. Other sponsorship opportunities are available for lifestyle brands, including cars, personal care, electronics/communications, luggage, fashion, cosmetics, and fragrances. Integration for marketers involved with "Couple Makeovers" will be bundled across platforms. Print ads will get online video and banner ad counterparts tied to other promos such as sampling and event marketing (during auditions).

2 Magazine, which has a quarterly circulation of 100,000 copies, has also executed brand integration programs for its "Home Entertaining Series" and "Cover Flap" programs. Previous partners have included P&G brands Pantene, Olay, Boss Skin, and Hugo Boss Fragrances. For more info on the mag's past brand integration programs, see MiC's June 28, 2005 issue (or click here).

Who you callin' 'ephemera'?

Interesting item on the blog torontoist, about zine-making. These handmade magazines are classed as 'ephemera', meaning nobody expects them to last long. But some collectors have formed the Toronto Zine Library -- collected hundreds of zines, and organized them by subject and title -- you can browse the catalogue online.

  • On Sunday, February 4 at 1:00 at the Tranzac Club in Toronto there's a free "Make A Zine" workshop. Members of the Library collective will talk about the history and future of zines, as well as offering a hands-on introduction to "varieties of approach, genre, construction and distribution."
  • There's also a four-week zine making course at This Ain't the Rosedale Library starting February 6, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. : $60 for students, the underemployed, and the 65+, and $80 for the rest of 'em. Call the bookstore at 416-929-9912 to register for the workshops in advance.

Now THAT'S marketing!

Spend Valentine's Day with the author of "The Sex Lives of Vegetables"!

-- The New Quarterly finds an intriguing way to promote a reading by poet Lorna Crozier on Feb. 14.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Freelancer's union getting organized

The Canadian Freelance Union (CFU), launched with ambitious hopes and minimal fanfare a year and a half ago, has now signed up about 350 people and is hoping to launch a newsletter and hold an inaugural convention this spring or summer. (See earlier posts here and here.) This, according to a note published on the Toronto Freelancers and Editors list from Michael O'Reilly, the president.
Along with the basic logistics of creating some structure for this thing I have also been working hard with a number of members to fight this new Quebecor (Sun Media) freelance contract. We are building a collective response to it, and trying to get Quebecor to the negotiating table. I hope to unveil a campaign (with funding!) so we can fight this thing.

We have also been working on ways to start delivering real services to members. This will include a dispute mechanism to help members deal with contract problems, and a series of benefits options (health, dental, disability).

The CFU has also been working with other groups to create an effective Status of the Artist legislation in Ontario.

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Swerve becomes Outwords; gives up its fight with CanWest for its name

Swerve, the little magazine published out of Winnipeg for a gay, lesbian, transgendered audience (circ. 6,000), has decided to switch, rather than fight in its battle with CanWest MediaWorks over its name. According to a story in mastheadonline (sub req'd) the original Swerve has renamed itself Outwords. This leaves CanWest's Calgary-based Swerve with the name to itself. There is word of a settlement, but no indication of whether that means CanWest paid for the redesign, though that would have been the least it could do. [UPDATE: the publishers point out in a comment below that the name of the magzine is properly Outwords Inc. It should be noted that there is also a U.S. gay magazine called Outwords.]

Thursday, February 01, 2007

City and regional magazines
booming in the U.S.

Capell's Circulation (Feb. 12) reports that city, state and regional magazines in the United States have doubled their circulation in the past decade, and have become the largest publishing category, with 300 titles. This, according to a story in Folio: magazine. Thirty-three of the 76 magazines audited by ABC posted gains and just 17, losses.

The 76 titles audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) have a combined circulation of more than 31 million and 8 of the titles (AAA Westways, Southern Living, Via, AAA Going Places, AAA Living, AAA World, Home & Away and Sunset) have more than a million each. One third of the 300 are controlled-circ.

Big gainers over the past 10 years were: Orange Coast(up 215%); Phoenix Home & Garden(70%); Carolina Country (60%); D Magazine (43%); Caribbean Travel & Life(35%); Atlanta (29%); Southern Accents,(27%); Delaware Today and Rural Arkansas (both 23%); and Palm Springs Life (22%).

· ABC-audited titles averaged circulations of 150,000.

· Titles are growing fastest in the South; biggest losses are in the East.

· The number of titles selling more than 1,000 pages of advertising in 2006 was up 54 percent over the past decade, and almost 30 percent of ABC-audited city, regional and state publications sell over 1,000 pages per year.

*(Capell is one of the last of the old-time newsletter publishers, who maintains no web presence and has a tiny, hugely influential audience of circulation directors. So there is nothing to link to.)

Paying the piper and editorial independence

I've only just caught up with the December editor's column of Briarpatch, Dave Mitchell, who thoughtfully explores the magazine's obligations when it comes to advertisers. One advertiser, mentioned in a less-than-flattering light, cancelled his subscription and his advertising. When you've got a total budget of $100,000 and two staff, these things can make a big difference.
This incident got us thinking, though, about the perennially delicate relationship between editorial content and advertising in the alternative press. How could we have handled the situation differently? Is the fact that we sell advertising to like-minded organizations at odds with our frequently proclaimed independence? We recognize the investment that organizations make when they place an ad, and we particularly appreciate and value the commitment of our regular advertisers. But how can we ensure that the magazine’s editorial integrity—the point, surely, of the whole endeavour—remains intact? There are no easy answers to these questions.

That’s why we decided it would be best to bring you, our readers and supporters, into the discussion. It’s your magazine, after all.

It will be interesting to see what kind of response he gets to this invitation for reader feedback.

As one very experienced editor of my acquaintance said: "Advertisers who say 'I support you and I expect you to support me' fundamentally do not understand the contract that exists between a magazine and its advertiser. We are not selling our editorial or influence over it. We are renting access to our readers and,in principle, there is no connection between an ad in one place and editorial comment in another."