Friday, February 29, 2008

U.S. magazine digital awards winners announced

Daily Intelligencer at New York magazine was chosen as magazine blog of the year at the second annual Digital Awards hosted by the Magazine Publishers of America in New York. The awards are part of the Magazines 24/7 Digital Conference. Web sites of the year included (Time magazine), (Style magazine), from Sports Illustrated and (New York magazine). A full list of awards, including for podcasts, mobile strategy, and online community, is available at the MPA web site.


Would government want to decide what
magazines publish?

Imagine, if you will, that the federal government were to tie the kinds of strings to its support programs for magazines in the same way it is proposing to do for film and video. Just suppose...

A story in the Globe and Mail says that the tax credit program for film and video under the Income Tax Act is soon to be subject to after-the-fact decisions about what is offensive or in the public's best interest. It is part of a new approach by the Department of Canadian Heritage to be more selective about what it funds. It seems to mean is that film producers might be turned down for tax relief after they'd spent the money or borrowed against it.

Mark Musselman, vice-president of business affairs at Toronto's Serendipity Point Films and Maximum Film Distribution, said Wednesday that the implications are huge, “both from the perspective of freedom of speech and for the Pandora's box of uncertainty this will open up from a business perspective.”

If certification is denied, the producer would be on the hook to repay organizations such as Telefilm, which invests only in Canadian-certified productions, Mr. Musselman added. “This review panel totally fetters the discretion of Telefilm. What will it do, send the panel scripts it is worried might be too racy or offensive?”

He called a review procedure that determines eligibility for Canadian content certification after the completion of a film or TV show production “unworkable in terms of the cold, hard reality of financing these types of things,” adding that “it's entirely possible the whole financing structure could crumble.”

This is not a merely academic discussion, since the same ministry is now holding public consultations concerning a radical restructuring of the Canada Magazine Fund and the Publications Assistance Program; they are to be rolled together and called the Canada Periodical Fund. Will part of the restructuring include similar guidelines to determine whether magazine content is ineligible because it doesn't meet government criteria? Magazines don't have a tax credit, mind you, but could similar principles apply to other support programs?
Toronto lawyer David Zitzerman of Goodmans LLP says the government's plans smack of “closet censorship.”....“The government – and Heritage – are of the view that they should have prerogative to assess whether a particular film, TV production or book meets their public policy criteria,” he said. “And if it doesn't, they should have the right to decline to invest in it. They don't view this as censorship because they say anyone is free to make the film or show or book, but not with their money.”
Substitute the word "magazine" for "film" or "video" and you may start to see why this bears watching. Discuss.

British mag dares to be different by moving from paid to free

There have been examples of controlled circulation magazines going paid in Canada -- Homemaker's a number of years ago was a good example. While controlled circulation could be said to have almost been invented and perfected here, we rarely see things going the other way (that is, from paid to free).

A British magazine for women called Dare, launched 18 months ago carrying a $1 cover price and tied to the drugstore chain Superdrug has converted to free and vastly increased distribution. According to a story in Media Life, where once Dare had a circulation of 271,000, it now gives away 750,000 in train and tube stations as well as continuing to give it away in store. The magazine behaves like a custom publication and carries brand ads from companies that supply Superdrug and clearly its goal is to drive traffic to the stores rather than to follow the traditional consumer publishing model.

This has happened as two of the most successful recent launches for men are also free and have quickly come to dominate the category. Sport, a British reworking of a successful French concept launched in 2006 as a weekly and distributes 317,209 copies each week in London on Friday mornings. ShortList started distributing 500,000 free copies in London and five other cities last September. They have become the two largest circulation men's titles in the country.

"For those that say men are moving away from magazines and going online, this shows the opposite,” says Mike Soutar, ShortList's founder and a former editorial director at IPC, a major UK publishing house. “If you get the content right, men’s magazines have never been more engaging. There has never been a greater number of men’s magazines read than today.”

Part of the reason why these giveaways work well is the highly developed and highly concentrated public transport network (trains and Underground) in Britain. Hundreds of thousands of copies can be handed out in just a few hours as commuters pour into major cities, particularly London.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

CARP to become Zoomer in October

Effective with its October issue, CARP the magazine will become Zoomer, it was announced today. According to a story from the National Post, media entrepreneur Moses Znaimer (above) said CARP has joined the AARP Global Network, founded by AARP in 2006. (AARP goes by its initials now, but was once called the American Association of Retired Persons). CARP becomes the third national 50-plus organization to join the network, including ones from Copenhagen and Italy.

As reported here in an earlier post, Znaimer has hired Suzanne Boyd, 44,former editor of Flare and of the shortlived New York magazine Suede, to pilot the new lifestyle magazine, aimed at 50-plus readers. It will be a substantial departure from CARP, which was more service-oriented.
CARP and Zoomer magazine are targeting 3.3 million Canadian baby boomers aged 40 to 49 and 11.2 million that are 50-plus, for a total of 14.5 million, more than half of all Canadians aged 12 or more. This group controls more than half of all spending in Canada, buys 58% of the cars, 55% of the vacations and …well, you get the idea.

In an introductory video, the founder of CityTV, MuchMusic, Space and various specialty TV channels said “the Internet is the new Television.”

Znaimer also said he has signed content deals with Sympatico and LavaLife, the latter a dating site he obviously views as a major component of his Zoomer strategy.
CARP has a circulation of about 190,000 and it was thought that it might continue as a tabloid newspaper; however, it now appears that Znaimer is making a clean break with the past and integrating Zoomer into his multi-media strategy to ride the crest of the aging boomer wave.


The scourge of liberalism, William F. Buckley,
dead at 86

We can't let the passing of William F. Buckley, founder and longtime editor of the National Review, go by unremarked. Buckley, with his trademark darting eyes and orotund vocabulary, was immensely influential in the rise of the right in the U.S. Yet he did it in such an urbane, wry way that it was almost (though not quite) palatable to many of us. He was a true conservative in the dictionary sense and he proclaimed that the mission of his magazine was "to stand athwart history, yelling, 'Stop!".

His long-running TV show (33 years on air) perhaps gave him more fame than his little magazine, which always struggled; it had influence well beyond its small circulation (give or take 150,000) and a few of the copies even drifted north of the border. The late Western Standard and its predecessors Alberta and Western Report magazines, were flattering comparisons to his quite original creation. Many of his friends and his enemies credit his influence with driving Reaganism and the ascendancy and extended hold of the Republicans on the White House.

There is a longish obituary in today's Globe and Mail and a piece in the Washington Post, which is well worth reading. Charm and recollected wit doesn't necessarily overcome distaste for his views, but it will keep his memory alive. There are a number of tributes to him on the National Review website.


Deadline looms for Editors' Choice awards

The March 24 deadline looms for the Editors' Choice Awards, presented by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors (CSME). The awards are open only to CSME members. Entry information is available online.

The awards are promoted as "the only national magazine awards that are judged by your editing peers"; this, of course, makes us wonder what they think the other awards are judged by.


Toronto Life blog aims to take media
down a peg or two

Well, Conrad Black is going to jail, and thereafter there won't be as much to write about him, so Toronto Life's Douglas Bell -- compere of the late, often hilarious Conrad Black website that followed every nuance of his Lordship's trial and conviction -- has turned his sights on the media. He has launched a new blog called Spectator. It's subhead says "Media, money, egos".
In this blog, I aspire to cast a gimlet eye on the stories of power—of money and media and influence. These days, conventional journalism is full to brimming with pompous windbaggery and is, as ever, in need of knocking down a peg or two. Here you will gain insight into the New York Times’ latest cave-in to vested interests, the Toronto Star’s latest bleeding heart lament, Chatelaine’s latest firing, Gerry Schwartz’s latest buyout, Heather Reisman’s latest faux pas and David Thomson’s latest… whatever.
The blog's first few items include an item about (natch) Conrad Black and commentary on Jeanne Beker's unfortunate turn on the red carpet at the Oscars on behalf of CTV.

Toronto Life has developed a number of web-based extensions of its print version, of which Spectator is one. Others include Phillip Preville on Politics, James Chatto's Digest (food and such), David Lawrason on Wine, plus weeky free subscription e-letters

Bon voyage, Spectator. Have at 'em.

[UPDATE] Douglas Bell is interviewed by Mastheadonline (sub req'd).

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Maryam Sanati named editor-in-chief
of Chatelaine

Maryam Sanati has been named editor-in-chief of Chatelaine, promoted from deputy editor, a job in which she piloted the magazine through some considerable turmoil, including before and after the sudden departure of editor Sara Angel after only13-months on the job

Sanati will be responsible for launching a much-postponed redesign and presiding over the 80th anniversary celebrations of the magazine.

Sanati joined Chatelaine from the Globe and Mail and before that worked at the late Shift magazine and for ROB magazine. She started as an intern at Toronto Life.

David Hayes, who recently wrote a Toronto Life feature on the turmoil at Chatelaine, posted an item on the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers listserv saying that he thought it was a canny appointment.
Maryam is a real pro, smart, wonderful to work with, sympathetic to freelancers. This is good news for freelance writers (as well as members of Chatelaine’s staff).
Here is a longer press release.


Steady as she goes, Magazines Canada tells competition panel

Magazines Canada has told the Federal Competition Policy Review Panel that it likes the stability of the current investment regime and doesn't want to see it change much, if at all. But Mark Jamison, the MC president, told the panel in Ottawa that there remain several nagging issues for the magazine industry.

Jamison pointed out that Canada Post has raised publication mail rates by almost 70% since 2000.
It is no surprise then that over 75% of new magazines choose alternative delivery streams to reach Canadians while more established magazines are now beginning to look elsewhere for stable, predictable business solutions. Canada Post needs direction from its only shareholder. It is time for the Government of Canada to review the core mandate of Canada Post in the context of the Canada’s economic, social and cultural priorities.
Without a clear idea of what the Government expects from Canada Post, he said, the forthcoming changes being proposed by Canadian Heritage -- particularly to the Publications Assistance Program -- could be potentially very damaging to the sector.

Some of the irritants Jamison brought up were provincial. Foreign companies are effectively given a pass on paying their share for blue box programs, he said.
So, while over half of the recycling from the magazine sector is due to magazines imported by foreign publishers, the full amount of the cost of recycling these magazines is borne exclusively by Canadian publishers.
He also noted that government liquor agencies continue to compete unfairly with the private sector for finite advertising dollars (for example, Food & Drink magazine in Ontario).
Magazines Canada believes the new investment regime [updated in 1999] is working well, helping the industry fulfill Canada’s cultural policy goals, ensuring an open marketplace -- a full choice of Canadian and international content at competitive prices -- and encouraging magazine publishers to invest in new titles, additionalcontent, and new technologies and forward looking business planning.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

RBW in Owen Sound reaps more jobs, plant and equipment from Rogers contract

A good news story for the country's largest printing plant, one with a long and strong reputation. It was at one time called Richardson, Bond & Wright and through various owners and changes down 155 years has come to be known by magazine publishers, editors, art directors and production managers as RBW, now a division of Transcontinental Inc., the country's largest printer and largest printer of periodicals. That is particularly so with the recent announcement that Transcontinental will be printing all of the Rogers Publishing titles starting a year from now. And most of that will be at the RBW plant in Owen Sound.

"It's very, very good news for the plant. I think it's a reflection of the work that the people have done up here and their ability to embrace new equipment," said Brian Reid, senior vice-president of Transcontinental's magazine and catalogue group.

RBW, which has been in business under different owners since 1853, already prints, among other things, Canadian Living, the Canadian edition of Time, Style at Home, Elle Canada, Canadian Gardening, The Hockey News and Canadian Home Workshop. Now, it will be printing everything from Maclean's, Chatelaine and Flare and Rogers b to b titles.

Now it will be doing the majority of the new $210 million contract (although Transcon across the country will handle some of the work), expanding its plant and its workforce, which now stands at 625 people, according to a story in the Owen Sound Sun Times. "We'll definitely have to be looking at additional equipment, investment in new equipment and we'll have to look at expanding the building as well," he said. "It will definitely be another full production line. We'll need to hire people, for sure."


Monday, February 25, 2008

The Economist loses domain fight for "The"

The Economist magazine's website can be reached by going to But the international magazine, which has a large distribution in Canada, has lost its attempt to claim the name at the World Intellectual Property Organization, according to a story on Folio:. That domain name was and is still registered to Jason Rose, owner of Maryland-based TE Internet Services. Its content has not been updated in six years. The Economist tried to buy the name from him last summer for $500 but Rose said no. The magazine's management was alarmed that so much internet traffic was being diverted to the site, to its disadvantage.
Under WIPO rules, rights to a domain name can only be transferred if the complaining party can prove: that the name is identical or “confusingly similar” to a trademark or service for which it has rights, if the owner has no rights or legitimate interests in the name, and that the name was registered and used in bad faith.

In its decision, the WIPO concluded that, although it was “skeptical,” and “has some doubts,” The Economist magazine failed to prove that Rose and TE Internet Services used the domain name in bad faith. “The only way that Mr. Rose’s assertions can be tested is in litigation where a judge would have proper opportunity of assessing the quality of this evidence. A proceeding under the policy is not the proper forum for determining such a belated issue of fact,” WIPO said in the document.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Concern about product placement in mags
is misplaced, conference told

A couple of challenges to conventional wisdom have been thrown down at a Folio: magazine publishing summit in sunny Florida:
  • No more Dad at work, Mom at home and Chevy in the driveway -- The period of "discontinuous change" and upheaval in the magazine industry has forced virtually every magazine publisher to tear up its playbook, Meredith publishing president Jack Griffin says. “We don’t hire editors anymore,” he said. “We hire content strategists.”
  • Product placement, particularly in b-to-b magazines, is no longer an issue and readers have moved ahead of editors. “Are you holding onto something that your audience isn’t holding onto anymore?” asked Jeff Pedone, director of e-mail marketing at ALM Media.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

John Macfarlane rocks out after 15 years

Tuesday night was a celebration of John Macfarlane's 15 years at Toronto Life magazine. He and his bandmates in 3 Chord Johnny played at a private club in Toronto to an invited crowd of colleagues and friends. Here, thanks to Doug Bennet, the publisher of Masthead magazine (sub req'd), we have some selected video of the event. The speeches were short and to the point, first by Doug Knight, the president of St. Joseph Media, then by Sarah Fulford, Macfarlane's successor as editor and then by the man himself.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

ABC's Rapid Reporting proves a hard sell with U.S. publishers

Rapid reporting? Not so much. Last June we reported that the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) in the U.S. was rolling out something called Rapid Reporting, which would allow consumer magazine members in good standing to voluntarily report their top-line circulation data on an issue-by-issue basis, usually within weeks of circulation to subscribers and on newsstands.

According to a story on the Portfolio magazine website, however, not many publishers are rushing to take up the opportunity.

Jeff Berkovici reports

As of yesterday, the January issues of most monthly magazines had been off newsstands for nearly a full month. Yet only a few major publishers -- including Alpha Media Group (publisher of Maxim and Blender), ESPN (ESPN The Magazine), American Media Inc. (the National Enquirer, Men's Fitness), and Johnson Publishing (Ebony) -- have reported numbers for the month. Time Inc., Hearst, Conde Nast (parent of Portfolio), Hachette Filipacchi, Meredith Corp., Rodale and Wenner Media all have yet to report their numbers -- even for their weekly and biweekly titles.
He suspects that it's because publishers are used to being able to massage numbers to get the best possible six-month average, rather than issue-by-issue figures.
ABC only requires publishers' circulation reports to be accurate on the basis of a six-month average, not on an issue-by-issue basis. Advertisers, however, care about the distribution of the specific issues in which they ran ads. Thus, a publisher who knows how many copies each issue sold in a six-month period can smooth out the spikes, subtracting copies from the high-selling ones and adding them to the low-selling ones to insure that each individual issue meets its rate base, or circulation guarantee.

But require publishers to report their numbers before they know how subsequent issues will sell and the whole scheme falls apart. That may be why at least one executive at an early-reporting company has received calls admonishing the company not to file so promptly.

Both senior editors at The Walrus take leave

Both senior editors at The Walrus magazine, Marni Jackson and Nora Underwood, are going on leave to handle book and other writing projects. Notice was given, according to publisher Shelley Ambrose, who said the magazine naturally regretted their -- possibly temporary -- loss, but completely understood the reasons they requested leaves. Heavy editing responsibilities made it difficult to get any writing done, which is something both women want to do. No one has yet been tapped to replace these two key staffers, Ambrose said.

Masterfile tightens its belt as microstock sites cut into its business

Masterfile, one of the largest stock photo companies in Canada, has laid off 20 employees in its Toronto headquarters and 10 elsewhere as uncertainties in the business grow. According to a story in DesignEdge Canada magazine, the company made a little bit of money last year (on revenues of about $32.5 million), but less than it was expecting. And competition from royalty-free and online microstock companies are probably at least partly to blame, according to Masterfile president Steve Pigeon.

Although there is no direct evidence that discount microstock sites are cutting into his agency’s profits, Pigeon says it is not unrealistic to assume they are affecting Masterfile’s bottom line.

“Given the fact that these guys are popping up like mushrooms and licensing pictures at very low prices, it stands to reason that some of our traditional business is going that way,” Pigeon says. “We’re assuming that’s having an affect on the industry.

Another of Pigeon's concerns is a possible U.S. recession.

As a 35-year veteran of the design and photography industry, Pigeon says advertising budgets are always the first to go when companies start tightening their belt. Masterfile does approximately 85% of its business in the advertising sector. “So when there’s a downturn there, we feel it.”
Masterfile was created in 1981 and was acquired from its corporate owners by Pigeon in a management-led buyout in 1984. Today it is one of the largest independent stock image companies in the world.

A week or so ago, DesignEdge reported that Adobe is getting out of the stock photography business and Getty Images, an unparalleled repository of historic stock imagaes, is up for sale.

Transcon a family business once again

With the ascendancy today of François Olivier (right) today officially became president and chief executive officer (replacing Luc Desjardins), Transcontinental Inc. is once again a family business. Olivier is founder and chairman Rémi Marcoux's son-in-law, most recently Chief Operating Officer.

Marcoux praised Desjardins' contributions, although there was some surprise in the industry when it was unexpectedly announced last fall that he would be leaving after four years in the job. Olivier, who had been with the company 15 years, was selected to replace him after what Transcontinental referred to as "
a rigorous selection process".

Not surprisingly, Marcoux lavished praise on the new CEO:
"François has an impressive track record with Transcontinental. He is an entrepreneur and innovator who puts growth front and centre and he has excellent credibility throughout the organization. Because we have a strong management team, we were able to identify an internal successor, in this instance a member of my family, which guarantees the continuity and stability that are so crucial in today's economy."

Transcontinental is Canada's largest producer of consumer magazines, its largest printer and just last week announced that it had won the contract away from Quebecor to print all of Rogers Publishing's consumer and trade titles.


Nelson 'n' me: Hello! Canada features Celine Dion's world tour

What, exactly, did Nelson Mandela make of his visitors when Celine Dion and family came to call? Hello! Canada magazine publishes a cover story that highlights the beginning of the chanteuse's one-year world tour. (Presumably, a world tour is less exhausting than 8 shows a week in Vegas).

The current issue of the magazine (published by Rogers under license from the Spanish owners) contains a nine-page spread about Dion, her husband Rene and their seven-year-old son Rene-Charles in South Africa at the start of the tour. Says Dion: "I take my son around the world so that he can understand the privileges he has."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Halifax news retailers welcome
one-cover-price trend

Magazine buyers in Halifax, at least, are happy that U.S. magazine publishers are printing one price on their covers, according to a story in the Chronicle Herald newspaper. The co-owner of Atlantic News in Halifax, Michele Gerard, quoted one of her customers: "One young man happily said, ‘Good, one cover price. It’s about time.’ On Saturday, I had a customer say, ‘I can buy magazines again.’ "

She said magazine retailers, like bookstores, have taken some heat about the differences between Canadian and U.S. cover prices for magazines as the loonie reached parity with the U.S. greenback.
"Two to three people would comment every day," she said, even though it costs more to ship and sell U.S. magazines and books to the smaller Canadian market than it does to sell them in the United States. "There were some disgruntled, unhappy consumers," she said, adding that the U.S.-Canadian cover price differences haven’t had as much impact on her business as other factors like general price increases, low subscriptions rates and the Internet, which has eroded the magazine market. There’s more time spent online."

The News Group, a major suppliers, has said that over 70 per cent of magazines they distribute (mostly from the United States) have gone to a single Canadian cover price, according to Gerard and those changes have meant lower Canadian prices in some cases.

"We have been watching our two largest suppliers and have noted over 100 titles where the prices have decreased by up to $2," she said.

For example, she said Bride and Bloom magazine, which previously had a cover price of US$5.95 and C$7.95, now has a single cover price of $6.99.

George Kapsalis, owner of Blowers Street Paperchase in downtown Halifax, said magazine sales were down two months ago when the Canadian and U.S. dollar hit par, and there was still a big discrepancy in the U.S. and Canadian cover prices.

"People weren’t buying until the Canadian price was more in line," he said, adding that the change to single prices and a corresponding reduction in some Canadian cover prices is slowly bringing sales back up. "Any time customers don’t feel they are getting ripped off, it’s a good thing," he said. "It’s getting better."

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Canada Council increase will benefit literary and arts magazines

The Canada Council, without much fanfare, has increased its funding to its Arts & Literary magazine program in time for the March 1 round of applications. As a result many magazines may see their grants increase and magazines already in the program will not see their grants trimmed in order to welcome new magazines into the program.

"We are delighted to see the new funding," said Mark Jamison, CEOMagazines Canada."This is linked directly to the collective efforts of several artsservices organizations that successfully lobbied the Government ofCanada for an increase to the Council's base funding. Magazines Canada took a very active role in the advocacy campaign."

The Council will be releasing more details about the increase shortly, but the additional funding to magazines is part of a $31.5 million boost it has received: $30 million is new funding from the federal government and $1.5 million is from interest on Council investments. A minimum of 81% of the money (about $25 million) will be spent on increased grants to artists and arts service organizations.


Quebec illustrators to show their best stuff at Toronto portfolio show

There's an excellent opportunity for magazine and agency people in Toronto to see some of the best that Quebec-based illustrators have to offer when The Quebec Association of Illustrators presents its first-ever portfolio exhibition in Toronto on March 13th.

The Ooh là là Illustration Show will present 50 top illustrators selected by a jury of five professionals from the Greater Toronto region. It's at Steam Whistle Brewing from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reserve your seats at the AIIQ by phone at 514-522-2040 or by e-mail .


Statistics suggest if you read, you're more likely to go to galleries, performances

Arts are not elitist in the conventional sense and have much less to do with demography than with the quality of other arts-related experiences, according to a new study.

Though it doesn't probe magazine reading specifically, a just-released report from the Hill Strategies Group on factors in Canadians' cultural activities has much good intelligence for magazine publishers to chew on.

For one thing the study, which is based on analysis of a Statistics Canada telephone survey of about 10,000 Canadians in 2005, demonstrates that demography (age, income, education etc.) doesn't play as large a part in engagement with culture as do other cultural experiences. In other words, reading a book or going to a gallery is a more important indicator of whether you'll go to a live performance or a museum.

Among the things the study found were:
  • Compared to the Canadian average of 67%, the book reading rate is particularly high among Canadians who visit an art gallery (85%), visit another type of museum (82%) or attend a performing arts event (between 77% and 80% for various types of performances).
  • Compared to the Canadian average of 41%, the performing arts attendance rate is particularly high among Canadians who visit an art gallery (68%), visit another type of museum (65%) or visit an historic site (59%).
  • Compared to the Canadian average of 27%, the art gallery attendance rate is particularly high among Canadians who visit another type of museum (60%), attend a cultural festival (51%) or visit an historic site (49%).
  • Compared to the Canadian average of 61%, the movie theatre attendance rate is particularly high among Canadians who attend a cultural festival (79%), listen to downloaded music (79%), attend a performing arts event (between 77% and 79% for various types of performances) or visit an art gallery (78%).
Not surprisingly, of all the cultural activities studied, reading was the most closely aligned with education...and sex. Men are less than half as likely to read as women and university educated people are far more likely to read than those with a high school education or less. But there is very little variance by age or income.
Canadians who enjoy other types of reading material also read books. Canadians who read a magazine in 2005 were 85% more likely to also read a book than those who did not read a magazine, keeping other factors constant. Similarly, Canadians who read a newspaper in 2005 were 59% more likely to read a book than those who did not read a newspaper, keeping other factors constant.
The report's observation, while largely focussed on performing arts and institutions, is that the statistics have implications for marketing cultural experiences and for stronger collaboration within the cultural community.
Overall, the statistics imply that cultural experiences and cultural exposure are more important factors in cultural activities than most demographic factors. In other words, there is an arts‐interested public that transcends demographic analysis. Those who get the arts go to a range of things. Those who don’t “get it” don’t go.
Its arguable conclusion is that some way has to be found to infect others with what it calls the "arts bug". Whether there is such a bug and whether it is transmissible may spark some conversations among literary and cultural publishers.


Monday, February 18, 2008

British b-to-b sector prospers and set to grow despite economic outlook

Print still brings home the bacon for British b-to-b publishers, but fewer than 15% of them plan to launch new print ventures, at least with the current uncertain economic outlook. According to a story in U.K. Press Gazette, research commissioned by the trade body the Periodical Publishers Association shows British business media is now worth almost £23bn annually and is set to grow, despite the economic downturn.

Business media, which includes the B2B side of brands like the Financial Times, The Economist Group and Reuters, as well as solely B2B companies, enjoyed a turnover in 2006 of almost £23bn, up from £15.6bn in 2004, according to the survey conducted by GfK NOP.

Print remains at the heart of B2B operations, generating £8.9bn of turnover or 46 per cent of total

Online is up from £1.2 bn in 2004 to £2.8bn in 2006, and is expected to be the biggest area of development in the next five years, with more than a third of companies surveyed predicting further investment in this area.

Incisive Media CEO and chair of the PPA’s Business Media Council Tim Weller said: “As a sector we are truly the envy of our British media peers and the blueprint for a successful industry, and by God let’s not be ashamed to shout about it.

“To put it into context, at £23bn the UK business information and professional media industry is the same size as the UK education sector.”

The 2007 survey included some new sectors not included in the 2004 survey but even with that taken into account, the new figure still represents an 18 per cent revenue growth in the sector in two years.

Weller said that the figures indicated how well British editors and journ­alists had overcome what he called the “biggest cultural challenge” of delivering news when it happens, wherever it happens.

Weller said: “What editors can take from this is how well business media have embraced the different delivery channels, such as online, and in person delivery.

“If you compare it to other forms of media we seem to have got our business models right. We’re making money online and we’re making money face to face.”


In Val Ross, we lost a strong voice for the culture

The death of Val Ross of brain cancer at the age of 57 means the loss of a strong voice for Canadian culture. Until she was diagnosed with the disease in October, she had been the publishing reporter for the Globe and Mail after a stint as deputy comment editor. She wrote about many of the issues surrounding book and periodical publishing and other cultural matters in this country, with insight and passion. (See Sandra Martin's article about Ross in the Globe and Mail.)

Ross's understanding of the business came from having been part of it for many years. She was a valued staff writer at Maclean's magazine, a prolific freelancer for such magazines as Saturday Night, Chatelaine and Toronto Life (I first encountered her work at The City magazine), at one time managing editor of the short-lived Toronto magazine. She was also an author of note, and wrote two well-regarded books for young people and, at her death, had all but finished an oral history of author Robertson Davies which will doubtless be published posthumously. Val was also a pillar of the writing and journalism community, including involvement in the Professional Writers Association of Canada, PEN Canada and Amnesty International. She took a lot of joy in holding progressive views. And had one of the world's great smiles.

A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Massey College in Toronto, where she had been a member of the Quadrangle Society.


Friday, February 15, 2008

A taste for magazines?

[This post has been updated] A new magazine ad campaign for Welch's grape juice involves lickable “Peel and Taste” samples. Next month, readers of People magazine will be offered the chance to peel back some metal foil and get a sample of the the juice. The story is that the creators, a company called First Flavor, hope the gimmick will catch on like breath strips that dissolve on the tongue. The only other time it has been used was to advertise for the CBS television series “Cane”, by having ads for a fictional rum company, though it has also been used to familiarize consumers with the taste of Arm & Hammer toothpaste.]

[UPDATE: As you'll see from a comment to this item, the manufacturer of the flavour strip are somewhat dismayed that people think they have to lick the magazine page. First Flavor says its intentions were that the reader would take the strip from under the foil cover and put it in their mouths. We have to wonder, however, whether this story would have got the same attention...]


Transcon wins contract to print all
Rogers magazines

Transcontinental Inc. has announced it has won the contract to print all Rogers Publishing magazines.The exclusive six-year contract involves 70 consumer, business and professional magazines including Chatelaine, Maclean's, L'actualité, and Canadian Business. It is valued at approximately $210 million and represents all new business for Transcontinental. It is a contract that was previously held by Quebecor World, the beleagured printing arm of Quebecor Inc which recently filed for bankruptcy protection.

The contract, which takes effect February 1, 2009, makes Transcontinental far and away the most important magazine printer in Canada. It is Canada's largest printer and the sixth largest in North America. It puts Transcontinental in the odd position of printing magazines that are major competitors for advertising and circulation with some of its Media division's consumer and business titles: for example Chatelaine and Flare (Rogers) vs. Canadian Living, Elle Canada, Homemakers's (Transcon).
"This contract to print Rogers' magazine portfolio underlines the positive results of our commitment to being leaders in technology and to continuous improvement across our Canadian network of printing facilities," said Luc Desjardins, President and Chief Executive Officer of Transcontinental.
For once, corporate hyperbole seemed appropriate: François Olivier, Chief Operating Officer of Transcontinental,described the deal as "a major milestone".

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Canadian Media Guild slams Citizen's moral rights grab in freelance contracts

The Canadian Media Guild has called out the Ottawa Citizen for trying to impose terms on freelance writers as though they were employees without giving the freelancers any rights in return. In an open letter to Executive Editor Graham Greene -- essentially to CanWest, the paper's owner -- the guild's freelance branch president, Don Genova, and National President Lise Lareau are critical of sweeping "boilerplate" contract language.
The most troubling demand is that freelance authors waive their moral rights in the work they provide. Moral rights give the author creative ownership over their work and ensure they get credit when that work is used or re-used. It is the most fundamental right a writer has, and it is simply unacceptable to expect freelancers to surrender it outright. A media organization does not need to hold moral rights to be able to subject a piece to the normal editing process. In our view, the only reason a company would need to hold the moral rights would be to have the unfettered right to modify an item beyond its original meaning. Surely this is not the Citizen's aim.
A similar complaint was made last October by the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) against the Vancouver Sun, another CanWest paper.

[UPDATE: Here is the wording in the National Post's freelance contract (also CanWest).
In consideration of the Fee above-mentioned, Freelancer grants to the National Post the express, irrevocable and exclusive right to use the Content, for the Term in all Media throughout the Territory. The National Post shall be entitled to edit the content, and Freelancer hereby waives in favour of the National Post and its assigns, all “moral rights” in and to the Content as such rights may now or hereafter exist whether by legislative enactment or otherwise at law or in equity. Nothing herein shall obligate the National Post to use or publish the Content in any manner. The rights granted hereunder may be freely assigned or sub-licensed by the National Post to any third party.


Levant says he'll sue to recover costs from the man who dropped human rights charges

The Calgary Muslim leader who brought charges against former Western Standard publisher Ezra Levant under the Alberta Human Rights Act is dropping the case.

Having mounted a bully pulpit and received loud (and, at times, hysterical) support from the right-wing blogosphere, Levant is not about to let his free speech campaign be derailed by a little thing like his opponent backing down.

Instead, according to a story in the National Post, he is suing Syed Soharwardy to recover his costs in defending the case.

The complaint was launched after the magazine republished the so-called "Danish cartoons" depicting the prophet Muhammad in satirical and unflattering ways. (See the earlier posts for more background).

Soharwardy's statement in backing down effectively says that most Canadians weren't affected by the publication.
"I believe Canadian society is mature enough not to absorb the messages that the cartoons sent. Only a very small fraction of Canadian media decided to publish those cartoons."
Levant's response is that he doesn't trust the man and that his climbdown is only a "temporary, tactical truce".
"I don't believe him. He thought this would be easy to do, just sic the human rights commission on me and it would be done. But I decided to fight back," said Mr. Levant.

"He's hurting right now. . . . What he's now saying he is going to do is not a true reflection of his feelings."

Mr. Levant said he plans to launch a civil lawsuit against Mr. Soharwardy to recover the tens of thousands of dollars he said he has spent battling the complaint.

"I put in at least 100 hours fighting this guy. He may want to run away from this issue, but I'm not going to. His values are out of sync with Canadian society."

Magazine sites see U.S. audience grow
faster than web itself

Magazine websites are growing in audience faster than newspapers and faster than the web as a whole, according to Neilsen Online research released by Magazine Publishers of America (MPA).

The top 320 magazine Web sites received on average 67.5 million unique visitors per month during the fourth quarter of 2007--an 8.1% jump from the same period in 2006. (The total U.S. population online -- 160 million in the last quarter -- increased 2.4% last year.) Similar information on Canadian magazine websites is not available.

These figures mean that magazine web sites reached almost 42% of the total U.S. online population of about 160 million in the fourth quarter, an increase of 7.1% over last year's reach.

These users generated 434.4 million visits in the fourth quarter--up 12.3%, while time spent increased 5.5% to an average 1.78 billion minutes per month, implying an average visit duration of just over four minutes.

In terms of unique visitors per month, magazine web sites bested newspapers, where the total unique audience for newspaper Web sites increased 9% in the fourth quarter to an average 62.8 million per month.

“These figures illustrate the growing prominence of magazine brands online,” said Nina Link, president and CEO of the MPA. “Magazines have long been masters at attracting consumers to their print pages, and now they are doing the same for the web audience, creating branded digital experiences through compelling content, innovative applications and robust communities.”

She added, “It’s important to note that the surge in online traffic to magazine websites is taking place while readership of the core print brand has grown over the last several years.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Best on Page exhibition of magazine
advertising is April 10

Magazines Canada is presenting its 3rd annual Best on Page, celebrating the best in magazine advertising, featuring over 150 international award winners on Thursday, April 10 at Maro, 135 Liberty Street in Toronto, 5 - 8 p.m. The cocktail and hors d'oeuvres reception is free, but requires advanced and limited registration by April 7.

The exhibit is open to the agency and magazine creative communities, advertisers, media agencies and the magazine community at large. All attendees are invited to cast their vote for the advertisement most deserving of Best of Show honours.


Print mag and website should play to their respective strengths, says Time M.E.

For those of us who have been counselling magazine editors to seek every opportunity to link the print magazine with the companion website, it is intriguing to read that Time magazine, an aggressive web player, is now downplaying the print-online relationship. According to a story in Folio: Richard Stengel, Time's managing editor, told Direct Marketing Association’s 22nd annual Circulation Day event in New York:
While the two products should be complementary halves, Stengel added that they nevertheless offer two very different perspectives on world news—and lately have been downplaying the opportunities of driving the audience from one platform to the other. Focus groups revealed that readers didn’t necessarily appreciate the callouts in the magazine to go to the Web site to see more information on a particular story, he said. “Why are we doing that? It doesn’t make sense,” said Stengel. “They should be two separate audiences. Someday there will be people who don’t know there’s a print product.”
Stengel's keynote related how, in the last year and a half, the magazine has redesigned, reduced its ratebase, come out on a different day of the week and expanded its website into a separate, 24/7 news source.
Broadly, Stengel said the magazine needed to regain its status as a vital read, in a way that vaguely echoed the luxe leanings of other high-end publications. “We have to become a more premium product with beautiful paper and photography,” he said. “Each medium needs to do what it does best. A magazine should be something you’re addicted to.”

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British Columbia magazine donates $10,000 to restore Stanley Park

British Columbia magazine has donated $10,000 towards tree planting, part of the restoration of Stanley Park, devastated by a violent winter storm a little over a year ago. The money is a portion of the proceeds pledged from a special issue of the magazine published last year called Stanley Park: A special place. The $10,000 cheque was presented to the Vancouver Park Board this week by Susan Rybar, the magazine's publication director

"Stanley Park is important to British Columbians as a place of recreation and respite, a cherished downtown green space in our largest city," says Anita Willis, editor of British Columbia magazine. "Creating the Stanley Park special issue was our way of celebrating this incredible place by raising awareness and raising money for the park," she said in a press release.

"British Columbia magazine has created a lasting tribute to Stanley Park with its special issue," says Vancouver Park Board chair Korina Houghton. "And their generous commitment to our restoration work is a real public service to the millions of people who enjoy this park."

About 10,000 trees were damaged or destroyed over 400 acres in the December 2006 storm -- across about 40 hectares of forest, or about 10 per cent of the park. This year, some 10,000 tree seedlings will be planted to eventually replace the mature trees that were blown down.

Stanley Park: A special place was a 66-page special issue published in May 2007 and sold for $9.95. It photographs of gardens and forest areas; archival images and a historic timeline; profiles of park wildlife and a birdwatcher's checklist; and a detailed two-page park map. Copies are still available. The parks board is also accepting donations to its restoration fund.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

ABC data confirms More magazine move into top rank among Canadian titles

Latest Audit Bureau of Circulations figures for the six months ended December 2007 confirms that Transcontinental's More magazine has charged into the top rank of consumer titles, according to a story in Mastheadonline (sub req'd.
More, aimed at women over 40, has garnered 86,771 subscriptions and moved an average of 37,612 copies per issue on the newsstands since it launched last March. With estimated combined ad, subscription and newsstand revenues of $5.7 million, it appears Transcontinental has already earned enough to cover the $5 million start-up bill.
Among the top sub (paid + verified) gainers:
Fleurs Plantes et Jardins (+17.4%)
Good Times (+15.9%)
Le Lundi (+8.8%)
La Semaine (+8.3%)
Decoration Chez-Soi (+7.2%)
Today's Parent (+6.6%)

Among the top single copy gainers:
Canadian Home Workshop (+110.4%)
Outdoor Canada(+96.1%)
Fleurs Plantes et Jardins (+47.3%)
The Beaver (+45.7%)
Canadian Business ((+43.6%)
Toronto Life (+33.4%)
Le Lundi (+32.2%)

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Seed magazine founder critical of firing Canada's science advisor

The editor of Seed, the science magazine, has waded into the controversy about the firing of Canada's national science advisor, Arthur Carty. Founder and editor Adam Bly came back from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and wrote in the March issue:
Canada needs a science adviser to guide our Prime Minister through this fast-changing landscape. The consequence of diminishing this position is apparent from my vantage point in the United States where the Bush Administration has repeatedly ignored science and scientists. It began by moving the Office of Science and Technology Policy out of the White House, escalated to abolishing the Office of Technology Assessment in Congress, and resulted in immeasurable damage to the Bush presidency and indeed the country....

Canada should not make the same mistake. In fact, this is a rare moment where Canada can benefit from America's deficiency in scientific leadership. If scientists can't or don't want to work in the United States, create an open invitation that highlights Canada's strong scientific community, labs and overall quality of life. Foster competitiveness by nurturing a scientifically literate population. Distinguish Canada from the United States with policy, diplomacy, and action that reflects this enlightened modern perspective.
(Seed is effectively an American magazine now, headquartered in New York, but had its origins in Montreal, where Bly founded it. Hence the "our" in his editorial.)

Indy mags and indy website team up on sweet subscription deal

A snug and appropriate bit of cross-marketing is taking place between and a number of leftish Canadian and U.S. magazines. The pitch is simple: subscribe to for $60 a year ($5 a month) and get a sub to one of a dozen fine magazines, including Briarpatch, Herizons, Geez, Broken Pencil and This Magazine. (see full list here.)

That most of the titles have politics congruentwith isn't a surprise; what's curious is that someone hasn't thought of this before and why this kind of an arrangement isn't working the opposite direction, with, say, a 3-month rabble sub as a premium for a sub in one of these titles.

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Halifax tab, antecedent to Frank, closed by Transcontinental

The paper whose existence helped Frank magazine get started has been closed. The paid tabloid Halifax Daily News was discontinued today, to be replaced by a free Metro newspaper by its owners, Transcontinental Media. The paper had been losing money for some time.

The Daily News was started in 1979 by David Bentley who sold it seven years later and with the money and the help of fellow journalists Dulcie Conrad and Lyndon Watkins started Frank in late 1987 in Halifax. It was modelled quite deliberately on the iconoclastic British weekly Private Eye. Later, Bentley launched an "upper Canadian" version which, after several brushes with death, still exists, although Michael Bate bought out Bentley.

Quote, unquote: Up and down

"Everything that's going up is not supposed to be going up, and everything that's going down is not supposed to be going down."
-- a senior U.S. magazine executive,quoted by
Business Week
columnist Jon Fine


Head-to-head battle for men's glossy market likely with launch of Sharp

A new publishing group, made up of people who helped launch Driven magazine are about to launch a magazine for men called Sharp. Publisher John McGouran, editorial director Michael La Fave and creative director Laurence Yap, have formed their own company called Contempo Media and it will be going head-on into competition with their former Driven associates. The content looks very similar.

Driven is a fashion and lifestyle title that moved aggressively into the space left with the closure of Toro magazine, following the same newspaper-carried controlled circulation model. That same model is now to be used by Sharp, which will be carried in 150,000 selected copies of the Globe and Mailstarting in April. The magazine is aimed at men 25 to 54 with target household incomes of $100,000. It will publish 5 issues in 2008 and 6 in 2009.

According to a press release, Sharp’s editorial cornerstones—style, travel, technology and automotive—will be augmented by features of “social significance and global scope.”
It’s an editorial model similar to that of the now-defunct men’s title Toro—which folded early last year citing a lack of advertiser support—but the team behind Contempo is confident of avoiding a similar fate.

“I think Toro was a pretty good magazine, but the owner was new to the publishing field. I think they may have overestimated the universe of possible advertisers and didn’t have a cost structure in place to reflect [that],” says McGouran. “We’ve been dealing with that area for five years [with Driven], so we have a handle on what is a reasonable expectation in terms of advertising support.”

McGouran says advertisers already booked in the 100-page launch issue hail from categories including automotive, fashion and technology. “We’ve got some miles to cover, but the response we’re getting in the market is excellent,” he says. According to the media kit, a one-time, full-page ad in Sharp costs $13,000.
According to a story in Marketing magazine, Contempo is also developing two other consumer books, one to launch this fall and another in spring 2009, and is currently exploring other custom-publishing ventures.

[UPDATE: The ambitions and the production values of the magazine may be upscale and national in scope, but the proposed payment to writers for the magazine is decidedly not. According to a message on the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers list, Sharp editor-in-chief Michael LaFave plans to pay $0.46 a word for travel, fitness, gadgets and celebrity interviews and "move up to $1/word for more involved editorial features". These rates are simply derisory.]


Fast Company magazine launches ambitious business/social network

Fast Company magazine is launching an ambitious social networking site for its business readers. Its an initiative that will doubtless be watched closely by tradtional publishers and competitors, who continue to wonder how to integrate web and print publishing. Edward Sussman, president of Mansueto Digital (a division of Mansueto Ventures, which publishes Fast Company and Inc. magazines) wrote:
"Starting today, we become the first major media website to tackle the following problem: Can a business publication blend journalism and online community to create something better than either by itself? We think so. If done right. That's what we've been thinking about and working on at for more than a year now.
The site will complement the online video news network launched in March covering business and technology under the direction of Robert Scoble, a leading technology blogger. That network already receives about a million page views a month, according to Mansueto Ventures, which owns Fast Company and Inc. magazines.

Fast Company created a readers' network called Company of Friends back in 1997, and that same name is being used for the new social network, which will make extensive use of user-generated content from some 95,000 business professionals organized into 200 chapters around the world, as well as its own original content, carried on

Contributing professionals are to be organized into 200 chapters around the world. Members of the network will be able to maintain their own blogs, answer daily "Fast Talk" questions and engage in online discussions. Each member's contributions will also be displayed in a personalized profile, creating individual portfolios of user-generated content.

Sussman says this is not a pure social networking site like Facebook or MySpace, aggregating people who already know each other.
We're an entirely new community of people brought together because we want to share ideas about business. We like business. We think it's important. Work gives more meaning to our lives. We believe business profoundly helps define our culture.
He also dismisses the idea that the site is the end of professional journalism.
We're still the website of one of the most influential business magazines in the world. Journalists like Robert Safian, Ellen McGirt, Chuck Salter, Linda Tischler, Will Bourne, Charles Fishman, and Adam Penenberg will continue to produce thought-provoking, ground breaking stories.
Sister magazineInc. is launching, a sort of social network and user-generated company database for privately held companies, according to a story in MediaDaily News will function as a directory with data updated by the companies themselves, with a press release newswire, blogging functions, local community groups and a marketplace for products and services....The network will be pre-populated with all the companies featured in Inc.'s recent list of the 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies. However, the magazine is inviting all senior managers from all privately held, U.S.-based companies to participate. This includes PR directors, CMOs, and CEOs. Overall, the site hopes for 1 million company-members.


Sunday, February 10, 2008


There's a fun and enlightening interview with Kriagge Silvermane* posted last week on the Ryerson Review of Journalism's site, about the hard-copy incarnation of the (equally fun, equally enlightening) website/blog Regret The Error.

And by "hard copy", we mean a "book".

* The interview subject actually goes by the name "Craig Silverman". Our fact-checkers regret the error.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Sudbury loses valued magazine outlet

A favourite magazine source in Sudbury, Ontario, Black Cat Too has closed as the owners, John and Diane Rutherford admit they couldn't sustain the expansion.

According to a story in the, the couple had started Black Cat One in 1982 and Black Cat Too was opened in August 1997 in the former home of Birk’s Jewellers. The second location became what many consider to be Sudbury's foremost newsstand (as well as Cafe Matou) , but it closed last Monday and the Rutherfords are retrenching back to their original location.
“We lament that our decade-long venture, our dream, at Black Cat Too has come to an end... we are financially viable and we remain a vital presence in downtown Sudbury but we have decided to cut back before our dream becomes a nightmare,” said Diane Rutherford. “We are very tired and we have decided to cut back.”

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Elle Canada launches three-day fashion and awards show in April

Elle Canada magazine is launching a fashion show called the Elle Show in April. The three-day event takes place in Toronto April 24-27.

According to a story in Media in Canada, the show builds on the success of the brand's other initiatives, such as the Elle Beauty Grand Prix, an awards competition for the year's best beauty products as tested by the magazine's readers.

"The Elle brand connects with women on a very special level for fashion inspiration, beauty and health know-how and living life with spirit and style," says Elle publisher Jacqueline Howe, VP, Transcontinental Media. The fashion show "is a natural extension that brings a truly interactive event for Elle's audience while supplying the fashion and beauty industry with the opportunity to directly communicate live and one on one."

Opening night of the Elle Show will kick off with the "Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI) New Labels" fundraising gala - a showcase and competition featuring Canada's emerging fashion designers that the brand has sponsored for the past five years. The winner will receive $25,000.

The power of being a multi-title publisher, as Transcontinental is, may best be demonstrated by the media blitz being used to promote the show: three pages of full-page ads in the April and May issues of Elle Canada, plus full-page ads in other Transcon publications: Canadian Living, Canadian Home & Country, Style at Home, Homemakers, MORE, Canadian Gardening, Good Times and Canadian Home Workshop. As well, seven quarter-page ads will appear in the Toronto Star and 10 full-page ads in Metro's Toronto edition.

Television spots will appear on HGTV as well as the Food and Life networks in a four-week campaign. Approximately 100 30-second radio spots will play on CHFI for two weeks prior to the fashion show, accompanied by on-air contests whose details are still under wraps.

Additionally, 150,000 postcards will be distributed by Elle Show exhibitors, sponsors and key retailers, some of which will also display posters. And 1.3 million inserts will be stuffed into Metroland community newspapers throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Online ads will appear on, and, and links will be displayed on the sites of Transcontinental media magazines, sponsors and exhibitors.

Fab, the gay magazine bought
by Xtra the gay newspaper

Pink Triangle Press, the publishers of Xtra, the gay newspaper, have bought Fab, Toronto's bi-weekly gay lifestyle and entertainment mag. No price was revealed.According to a story in Media in Canada, the deal closes on Feb. 25.

Pink Triangle is also publisher of the Ultimate Pride Guides in Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa, as well as international gay travel mag The Guide. The combined circulation of PTP's print pubs is now 156,000, with a reach of about 275,000 monthly readers.

Brandon Matheson, publisher and editor-in-chief of PTP's eastern publishing division, says Fab is "highly complementary to Xtra, bringing us both a slightly different readership and style of publication. The addition of Fab allows us to expand the ways we engage our audiences, as well as provide advertisers and marketers a greater range of options and access to the gay community."

IR magazine hosts Toronto awards program

IR Magazine, a global trade publication for the investor relations sector, held its Canadian awards on Thursday night. It was hosted by the Globe and Mail at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto and about 400 people attended. Winners of the awards are picked by a survey of more than 250 investment professionals using samples from Thomson Financial and Equicom, as well as 100 retail investors in a survey conducted by PrecisionIR Group.

Among the winners were CN (in the big company category) and Draxis Health in the small-cap category. The full list of winners is available at

John Stackhouse, editor of the Globe and Mail's Report on Business apparently had them rolling when he gave the golden gavel award to BCE.
'This IR department spent years keeping its stock price fixed at $28 a share, regardless of dividend increases. When a takeover battle erupted, and its stock shot up to $40, they hired bankers to prepare a defensive strategy to get the stock back to $28,' Stackhouse joked. 'In the end, when private equity came calling, IR was 'completely ignored by the CEO as he auctioned off the company from his kitchen.'
We guess this could be called insider humour.

Arthur Kent wants credit where it is due in "Charlie Wilson's War"

Policy Options magazine this issue publishes an article by Arthur Kent, dismantling the film "Charlie Wilson's War". Not that it will dent the film's popularity, but Kent, who was there in Afghanistan as a television reporter, says in the article headed "Charlie Wilson's Whoppers" that the movie is a crock and further that it uses footage and his voiceover without credit or compensation.

Kent, who was known more during a brief period of notoriety as the "Scud Stud" of the first Iraq war, has had a long and career as a TV journalist (host of Dateline NBC 1989 - 1992) and war correspondent. In the film, towards the end when a montage of clips is used to convey the defeat of the Soviet army by the mujahadeen, armed covertly by Congressman Charlie Wilson and the CIA, Kent's narration is heard and footage is shown that he and his cameraman shot.
Much of the article deals with distortions of the filmmakers, but Kent is most vexed that his colleagues, who risked and lost their lives to get the documentary footage that is used so lavishly in the movie, go without credit:
Charlie Wilson’s War isn’t the first Hollywood picture to choose myth over substance and it won’t be the last. But the callous ease with which these millionaire moviemakers pillage the archives for their fable is a tendency, in Tinseltown, that factual filmmakers should take measures to redress.

I know a lot of moviegoers who sat through the credits of Charlie Wilson’s War just to see who recorded the battlefield footage. So who gets screen credit? Networks and news agencies and image archives — an almost indecipherable cluster of logos and bugs and acronyms.

But these gripping sequences aren’t the work of companies, they were filmed by men and women. Some were professional freelancers, others adventurers and daredevils. Many were young Afghans striving to document their country’s resistance to foreign oppression. Nearly all were underpaid and they frequently risked their lives. Yet their contribution to the historical record languishes without proper acknowledgement,as the makers of Charlie Wilson’s War so disgracefully demonstrate.
Kent goes to some pains to point out some of the more glaring shortcomings in the film's continuity, emphasis and historical accuracy as well as offences against his copyright. Given that he fought and bested NBC in a settlement and wasn't afraid to chase bandits into the Afghan hills, it seems quite likely that director Mike Nichols and the film's producers will be hearing from his lawyers.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Going green is the good news for beleagured paper producers, report says

Research by Markets Initiative, the Vancouver-based environmental group, has found that more than 520 Canadian book publishers, magazines, newspapers and printers are now implementing eco-paper purchasing policies, according to Nicole Rycroft, executive director.

She told the Montreal Gazette that an ''unparalleled environmental momentum'' points to profits for green printers and paper producers despite an industry downturn, the Markets Initiative report says. "This represents a 300-per-cent increase over last year.''

(Last week, Markets Initiative released a Pollara study that said consumers are not fooled by companies that pretend to be green and carbon-neutral but really carry on business as usual.)

The report released at an international forestry industries event in Montreal - is filled with examples of how going greener has translated into dollars for the innovators while lessening industry impact on the environment.

  • Quebec-based Cascades has seen 2007 sales of its 100-per-cent recycled and ''ancient forest friendly'' paper jump by 235 per cent over 2006 figures.
  • Leipa Georg Leinfelder GMBH has seen 2007 Canadian sales of its green magazine paper jump by more than 70 per cent over 2006. And its Canadian sales are expected to double in 2008, the report said.

Key among the big players driving the demand for environment-friendly papers is Transcontinental Inc., Canada's largest commercial printer and the producer of the largest number of consumer magazines in the country.

Last October, Montreal-based Transcontinental became the first major North American print-media conglomerate to implement a paper-purchasing policy that champions ''environmentally preferable'' papers.

It gives preference to third-party certified paper, in particular, the Forest Stewardship Council.

A year ago, Transcontinental met 17 existing paper suppliers - including AbitibiBowater, Kruger, Atlantic and Cascades - and ''laid our cards on the table,'' Jean Denault, vice-president of procurement and technology, said yesterday.

After rating suppliers' offerings, Transcontinental met with some suppliers individually and told them that it wants one of their greener papers, Denault said.

''This will be a work in progress for Transcontinental,'' he said. ''There is a limited supply of FSC paper for all our needs'' given the various grades required for various media.

The report noted that North America's newsprint market - largely fed by Canadian producers - has a long way to go to catch up with its British cousin.

About 13 years ago, the British market mirrored North America's with an industry average of 34-per-cent recycled content. In 2006, that industry average topped 80 per cent.

Spacing voted "Toronto's best magazine"

Spacing Magazine has been picked by the readers of Blog TO as Toronto's best magazine. The blog says that the competition wasn't even close.

Publisher and Creative Director Matt Blackett says in a Blog TO interview that Spacing has plenty of room to grow. He said they have hopes of reaching 5,000 or 6,000 subscribers in the next few years and to increase frequency to five or six times annually.

He was candid about other media in the city.

What's your take on the mainstream media landscape in the city. What do you think of Toronto Life?

Toronto has a very vibrant media culture. Some of the mainstream outlets do great stuff, while a handful do a dreadful job. But we're lucky to have so many media options in print: the weeklies, dailies, and all the magazines based here. There's a lot of crap, but the city is packed full of an amazing amount of talent.

As for Toronto Life, I'm not going to get into a pissing match. I like a lot of things about Toronto Life, especially the work of Gerald Hannon, and Spacing contributors John Lorinc and Ryan Bigge who often write for them. I'm just not big into food and restaurant reviews, but obviously their readers are.

The Beaver outsources to Cornerstone

The Beaver magazine, which until now has maintained its own extensive in-house fulfillment system, has announced that it is outsourcing customer service to the Cornerstone Group of Companies. The arrangement is for both The Beaver and Kayak, published by Canada's National History Society in Winnipeg.


Cheap celebrity mags hurt by forced
cover price increase

You can almost hear Bauer Publishing saying "I told you so!" to major U.S. wholesalers about being forced to raise cover prices. Under pressure from the wholesalers, hungry for more profit, cut-priced celebrity mags In Touch and Life & Style each raised their price to $2.99 (up $1) in November. As a result, the company has been forced to cut its guaranteed rate bases: In Touch was 1.2 million and now 1 milion (down 17%); Life & Style was 700,000 and is now 550,000 (down 21%), according to a story in MediaDaily News.
In the four weeks immediately following the price hike, newsstand sales slid an alarming 33%, but rebounded somewhat, with the decline narrowing to 23%. Almost all of the titles' circulation comes via newsstand sales.
Earlier this week, OK!, published by Northern & Shell, said it will raise its newsstand price again, from $2.99 to $3.49. Rival American Media's Star is set to rise from $3.49 to $3.99. Wenner Media's Us Weekly--which leads the pack of relatively new celeb titles--raised its price to $3.99 in October, a month before Bauer hiked prices at its 11 titles.

Canadian magazines do not traditionally offer a guaranteed rate base, tending to sell on audited circulation numbers.

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