Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Frank magazine folds, saying
"it is time to move on"

Frank, the obstreperous, occasionally scurrilous, Canadian magazine of satire and gossip, which has survived several changes of hands and near-death experiences, has apparently run out of runway. The following notice has gone out to subscribers from publisher Michael Bate:

To our regret, we have decided to stop publishing Frank Magazine. Effective immediately, both the online efrank.ca and the bimonthly paper edition have been terminated.

Despite the efforts of our wonderful staff and contributors, our loyal investors and our dedicated subscribers, we could not achieve profitability.

My thanks to everyone involved with Frank over the past 19 years. It has been a memorable experience, but it is now time to move on.

Frank was started in late 1987 in Halifax by David Bentley. It was modelled quite deliberately on the iconoclastic British weekly Private Eye but had its own, often loopy, style. In 1989 Bentley, in partnership with Michael Bate, launched an "upper Canadian" version in Ottawa which, after several brushes with death survived until today. (Bate bought out Bentley; the Halifax-based Frank has continued although Bentley is no longer involved.). For a time, the Ottawa or "national" Frank magazine was owned by Globe and Mail journalist Fabrice Taylor, who wanted to take it more mainstream and found no market for it, closing it in 2004. Bate started it up again and put more emphasis on the online version, but that, along with the print version, is no more.

Bate told the Toronto Star:
"Frank is not part of the zeitgeist the way it was in the 1990s," conceded publisher Michael Bate during a phone interview. "There was a time in the early '90s when we really had the field to ourselves, in the sense that we were doing stories that were the antidote to the mainstream media. In a way, we were the Internet. And then along came the Internet. More and more publications started doing what we were doing. And we couldn't compete."
Frank's "Remedial Media" column enjoyed a love-hate relationship with Canadian reporters, editors and writers who avidly read (and bristled about) the backstairs gossip about newspapers, magazines, radio and TV.

As but one example of its mischief, in 2007, Frank managed to snow various mainstream outlets like the Globe and Mail about a wholly fictional organization in support of Conrad Black during his travails with the U.S. courts.

When the magazine closed, said The Star, it had 5,000 subscribers for its daily updated online edition and its bimonthly newsstand publication, compared to a peak circulation of roughly 20,000.



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