Friday, December 19, 2008

The year in Canadian magazines

Canadian Magazines is taking a brief holiday from posting, as it does this time of year. We'll be back on January 2. In the meantime, and as a wrapup of the year just past (towards the end, there, 2008 was getting a bit grisly, wasn't it?) we present our annual, completely arbitrary, listing of some of those posts (just click on the heading for the link to the whole story -- remember search our archives for any other story.)

Best wishes for the season to all our readers; we've grown more than 70% in visits and page views since last year at this time; thanks to you.

And, as always, we'll appreciate even more tips in 2009 with information about what's going on in your magazine, your publishing company or the Canadian magazine industry.


It's big, but I don't like what you've done with it...
Toronto Star architecture critic Christoper Hume, writing about Toronto Life's purchase of naming rights on the corner of Yonge and Dundas Streets in Toronto, called the branded building "not just an offence against good taste, but a crime against urbanity."

They're not old people, they're consumers
Moses Znaimer is going to launch Zoomer, conjuring it out of CARP, the magazine for the 50-plus. Former Flare editor Suzanne Boyd to be editor.

Going out in style
John Macfarlane, the editor of Toronto Life for 15 years, helms his last issue. What was he going to miss? "The talented people".


What took you so long?
Maryam Sanati is promoted from deputy editor to editor-in-chief of Chatelaine, after a months-long international search to replace Kim Pittaway, who resigned.

It's not us, Ken, it's you...
Both senior editors at The Walrus -- Marni Jackson and Nora Underwood -- go on leave, simultaneously, ostensibly because heavy editing responsibilities interfered with books they wanted to write.

All in the family
François Olivier became president and chief executive officer (replacing Luc Desjardins) of Transcontinental Inc. so it is once again more or less a family-run business (except for those pesky shareholders). Olivier was Chief Operating Officer and is son-in-law of founder and chairman Rémi Marcoux.


Sunday funnies
Bob Hambly of the Toronto design firm of Hambly & Woolley turns out to have completed his 500th illustration (!) for the "Lives" back page of the New York Times Sunday magazine.

Glowing achievement or glaring mistake?
Vice magazine sells a glow-in-the-dark front cover campaign to auto company BMW.

We don't know her and we don't like her already
Jessica Rose was named Toronto Life art director and the choice of someone without magazine experience for this marquee job drew a lot of criticism; it was one of the blog's most-read, most commented-upon items of the year.

But who's counting?
Masthead reports a 15% decline in magazine launches.


Happy birthday to us
Chatelaine launches redesigned, biggest issue to mark its 8oth anniversary.

Almost as long as it takes to get an invoice paid around here
The Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers listserv notes that it's, more or less, 10 years old.

B2B to be eligible for MC
Magazines Canada's board announces it is recommending that trade magazines be eligible for membership in the association. Phil Boyd of Canadian Business Press is not well pleased.

Racks going to ruin
Vancouver's Magpie Magazine Gallery announces it is to close; blames iPods and distributors.

A man outstanding
It is announced that Charles Oberdorf, writer, editor, teacher, is to be honoured for outstanding achievement by the National Magazine Awards Foundation gala in June.


All revved up
Motorcycle Mojo magazine scoops the world with a cover story about the " Uno", a funky electric unicycle.

What ever happened to...?
Michael Ignatieff was one of four Canadians named by Foreign Policy magazine in the U.S. and Prospect magazine in Britain to their list of 100 leading world intellectuals.

What a flap!
Better Farming magazine wins a Canadian Association of Journalists award for its investigation of a pigeon-breeding pyramid scheme.

Mr. and Mrs. Magazine
Linda and Jim Gourlay of Saltscapes in Halifax named to jointly receive the volunteer of the year award from Magazines Canada.

Alert for Amber
A well-respected Calgary freelancer, Amber Bowerman, was one of five people killed in a multiple murder-suicide in a Calgary home where she rented a room.


You can subscribe, but it'll cost ya...
Canada Post pushes ahead with intention to implement distance-based pricing.

We imagine they leapt for joy
Dance Current magazine celebrates 10 years

The first day of the rest of her life...
Cobi Ladner resigns as editor of Canadian House & Home. It meant a lot to people, because this item was viewed more than any other on Canadian Magazines.

My work is done...
Ken Alexander resigns as editor of The Walrus.

Good doggie
Time Inc. unveils Newshound, a "mix 'n' match" consumer subscription site.


The father of us all
Clay Felker, the founder and visionary of New York magazine, dies at 82

That was a short retirement
John Macfarlane named to be interim editor of The Walrus magazine.

Go with God
Bayard Presse Canada, the publishers of Owl, Chickadee and Chirp, buys out its religious partner, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Last call
Front Page, a much-loved Edmonton newsstand, announces it is closing up.

Twice as nice
PMB announces that it will move to bi-annual release of data in 2009.

That happened at This
Graham Scott named editor of This Magazine.

Biting the hand that fed you
Douglas Bell, until recently a daily blogger at Toronto Life (now blogs for the Globe and Mail) takes his former employers to task for misleading its readers about gun violence in the city: "[it] fails in even one instance to place this 'trend' in any sort of context. The issue is violence, not guns."


Editorial. Retail. We do it all
A former editor of Flare magazine, Bonnie Brookes, is named chief executive officer of The Bay.

Electrons, not atoms, geddit?
Kat Tancock of Best Health magazine launches an online magazine blog.

We're dancing as fast as we can
The Department of Canadian Heritage says that the implementation of the Canada Periodical Fund (the merger of the Publications Assistance Program and the Canada Magazine Fund) won't come into force until fiscal 2010. Seems it was harder to do than they expected.

Robber barons we know and admire
Ken Whyte, the publisher and editor of Maclean's magazine, publishes a biography of William Randolph Hearst and says he's going to set the record straight. Yes, Hearst fomented the Spanish-American War. But who's perfect?

Re Cycling
The first issue of Dandyhorse, a magazine for city cyclists, is launched in Toronto


Freelancers of the world, unite!
Former editor of Toro magazine, Derek Finkle, announces that he is going to start a literary agency to represent independent writers of all kinds, including magazine freelancers. Today, $1 a word. Tomorrow?

Rack 'em up!
Coast to Coast Newsstand services publishes a 2007 box score for the newsstand sales of Canadian and U.S. titles on Canadian newsstands; the number one spot among Canadian magazines is Hello! Canada. None of the top 10 and only three of the top 20 newsstand sellers are Canadian.

My store, my racks, my rules
Indigo Books & Music tells publishers that, within 5 years it will only sell magazines that have at least 50% recycled paper; this comes on top of its edict that magazines that sell in its stores must sell 50% of their draw or be dropped.

One side, I'm a lawyer
Maclean's magazine's rankings of the country's law schools is criticized for its methodology and its intentions.

One side, I'm a water bottler
The industry association for the people who put water in plastic bottles criticizes an article in Canadian Water Treatment magazine which says that bisphenol A is leaching out of plastic bottles and cans, with possible very serious side effects.

One side, I'm a copyright cop
A new, web-based product called iCopyright helps publishers fingerprint their content and track when someone uses it without permission or payment.

Happy anniversary I
Cottage Life staff celebrates Penny Caldwell's 50th issue by hijacking her editor's blog.

Happy anniversary II
The Walrus celebrates its 5th anniversary.

Go figure...
Jewish Living magazine, started in New York by former Toronto Life art director Carol Moskot and her husband, Dan Zimerman, folds after only five issues.


I thought you told them...
Books in Canada magazine turns out to be out of business, but forgot to tell the funders.

Wearing two hats; one of them for gardening
Erin McLaughlin the editor of Transcon's Canadian Home & Country magazine, assumes the additional duties of editor-in-chief of Canadian Gardening. Aldona Satterthwaite, the editor since January 2001, moves on.

We're outta here...well, we're half outta here
North Island Publishing announces it is folding Masthead magazine and its companion website, mastheadonline. (Postscript: it later changes its mind and says it will keep publishing the website.)

We're also outta here...
Frank magazine folds. Founder Michael Bate says it is "time to move on". Fans of Remedial Media suffer in silence.


Reaching the end of their leash
magazine of Guelph is sold to one of its major advertisers, a U.S. manufacturer of dog agility products.

Where do we sign?
A study done for the Ontario Media Development Corporation recommends that Ontario create a refundable tax credit for magazines, the only cultural industry in the province that doesn't have one.

Shocked and appalled
A Toronto Life cover story on an "honour killing" draws harsh criticism from critics who say it should be ashamed to foster sterotypes; editor Sarah Fulford says, far from being ashamed, she's proud of it.

The medium gets a message
Magazines Canada hires the ad firm Zulu to promote magazine to agencies and advertisers.

When the going gets tough, the tough close magazines
St. Joseph Media announces the closure of Gardening Life and Wish magazines, in anticipation of plummeting advertising sales.

Will they give out diplomas?
Canadian Business Press, the trade association for b2b magazines, buys Magazines University from North Island Publishing and intends to continue with a June conference under that name, in direct competition with Magazines Canada and its partners in MagNet.

Well, it's a start...
Zoomer magazine reports a $402k loss on $1.7 million of income in its first quarter.


Gentlemen, start your negotiations...
The Canadian Writers Group, the literary agency started by former Toro editor Derek Finkle, says it has signed 200 people to its list, even before making a swing through the west.

R.I.P. Ted Rogers
Ted Rogers dies at 75. He ran Canada's largest magazine publisher (consumer and trade). He had no sooner expired than...

No offence, you're fired
...Rogers Media lets 100 people go across all its properties, including magazines and the Blue Jays baseball front office. It described it delicately as "right sizing" and said that those chosen for the chop shouldn't think it had anything to do with the quality of their work.

It's not the principle, it's the money
Maisonneuve magazine said it could no longer afford to run its daily MediaScout online briefing about the journalism of the big players in publishing and television.

We thought you'd already gone...
Time Canada is folded and its ad sales staff let go. The editorial staff went some time ago. Canadians will now get the U.S. edition, says the company, which is what they've essentially given Canadians for years.


MAD cover makes Time's top ten

Mad Magazine's magnificent Alfred E. Obama cover made it into the number ten slot on the Time list of 1o Best Covers of the Year. Rolling Stone's Obama cover, a much more conventional treatment, made it to number three. The New Yorker got the top spot for its Obama cover (by Bob Staake), which, as Arthur Hochstein writes, derives its strength from the editorial self-awareness that gives The New Yorker "great freedom on its covers, allowing them to speak in code to the members of the tribe."

Transcon custom pubs teams up with Samsung for "mini mag" insert

Transcontinental Custom Communications has teamed with Samsung Electronics Canada to create a "mini mag" insert into the holiday editions of Canadian Living and Coupe de Pouce. The List/ La Liste, as it is called, will have a combined circulation of 410,000 and features various wireless, consumer electronic and home appliances, according to a story in Media in Canada.

The custom pub is being teamed with a web microsite called The Samsung Holiday Home, also designed and delivered by Transcontinental. Illustrated in flash animation, the site will be featured at,, and

Labels: ,

Mags Canada urges budget support for PAP, CMF and government magazine advertising

Magazines Canada has recommended in a pre-budget consultation paper to the federal finance minister that his new budget and its expected economic stimulus package should
  • Maintain current levels of federal investment in the support of Canada’s periodical policy including the Publications Assistance Program (PAP) and the Canada Magazines Fund (CMF); and
  • Increase federal government advertising in Canadian-owned magazines.
In a release, the magazine association said that the PAP is a very efficient program with low administration costs and a proven track record in securing higher levels of access to Canadian-owned magazines and their content. It noted that it is supported with investments of $45 million from the Department of Canadian Heritage but that Canada Post has unilaterally decided that it will no longer contribute its $15 million share of the program after March 31, 2009.
A loss of one quarter of the program’s funding would result in an overnight increase in postal costs of 31 per cent. This will immediately result in negative impacts.This is further exacerbated by the introduction by Canada Post of “distance related pricing” which in short, discriminates against readers outside of major metropolitan centres. There has been no consultative process in these matters.
The submission also said the CMF is the "linchpin for the creation of Canadian editorial content" and that CMF funding of $15.5 million is used exclusively for editorial development.

Government advertising would provide an important, direct stimulus to the Canadian periodical industry, it said.
Advertising makes up 60 to 65 per cent of magazine revenue. Much of these expenditures come from sectors, such as the automobile industry, that are experiencing challenging economic times and have been forced to cut back on all discretionary spending, such as advertising.

Canadian-owned magazines maintain a close ratio of advertising pages to Canadian editorial pages with the former ‘paying the bills’ associated with the later. Canadian owned magazines average 80 per cent Canadian-created content. When advertising revenues decline, editorial pages also decline. In turn, investment in creative jobs declines.

Annals of fact-checking

It emerges that Cosmopolitan magazine in Britain has had to make a grovelling apology to movie star Scarlett Johansson for quotes included in a long interview featured on its cover as "Scarlett: Why I had to get married".

It turns out, says a story published by the Guardian, that the contentious quotes about Johansson's husband Ryan Reynolds were inserted by the editors using copy they bought, incredibly, from London-based celebrity agency. Johansson, who is notoriously reticent about her personal life, said the statements were "completely fabricated" and threatened to sue. The magazine apologized (and no doubt wrote "I must fact-check, I must fact-check..." 100 times on the blackboard):
"Cosmopolitan would like to apologise to our readers and Scarlett Johansson for inaccuracies in our January issue where we said she talked about her marriage and her relationship with her husband. We now understand Ms Johansson has not commented publicly on her married life and did not do so on this occasion."

Looking for places for stimulus investment, Mr. Flaherty? How about the arts?

It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to stand up to your hips in the swirling waters of an economic crisis and and suggest the federal government ante up for the arts, but that's precisely what the Canadian Conference of the Arts has done. The CCA has sent a pre-budget submission to Flaherty and the opposition parties in which it says the arts and culture sector is precisely the kind of place to invest as part of the expected $25 billion plus economic stimulus package.
"Given the structures already in place, the sector can quickly mobilize the talents and dedication of artists, creators and arts professionals and of other sectors of the economy to achieve the objectives of creating jobs, increasing economic and creative activity," [the CCA said in a release] "while at the same time enriching our sense of Canadian identity, enhancing our image abroad and supporting our other international trade objectives."
While they speak for all the arts, the CCA's positioning is important to the literary and cultural magazine sector in Canada and could have some longer term benefits if they are successful in convincing finance minister Jim Flaherty that several of their recommendations are in the best interests of the future of the Harper Conservative government.

Freelancers and literary and cultural magazines will be in particular interested in the CCA's suggestions for investments in mentorship and internship, changes in tax exemptions on copyright payments and a tax exemption for grants to artists and arts organizations.

Of course, a casual observer could get whiplash trying to keep up with the Harper government's views on the arts, on surpluses and deficits, and so on, but we live in hope.)

Among the CCA's list of places to spend some of that stimulus money:
  • at least $ 1.5 million a year for the next five years in the creation of a mentorship/internship program for the cultural sector.
  • an additional $ 40 million per year into the expansion of the capacity and mandate of the Canada Council for the Arts Audience and Market Development Program.
  • an additional $ 100 million for the Department of Canadian Heritage to invest over the next four years in the Cultural Spaces program to allow more communities and organizations to proceed with their capital development plans.
  • $ 5 million per year for the next four years into the design and implementation of a national cultural research strategy.
  • an annual allocation of $ 50 million to the development of a multi-platform and new media Canadian content fund.
  • creation of a $ 30, 000 exemption on revenue deriving from copyright and residual payments and complete tax exemption to grants to individual artists and creators.
The pre-budget consultuation and comment period is over the Christmas holiday period and ends January 9, so the CCA is recommending that people who are interested should find out more about the consultation process here and indicate their support for these ideas at the Department of Finance website.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Will Toronto's Pages still be selling magazines two months from now?

One of Toronto's best indie newsstands, Pages Books & Magazines, looks likely to go out of business within two months, as the increasingly forlorn hopes of its supporters that it will find another, affordable location, fades.

According to a post in BlogTO, owner Marc Glassman has spent almost two years searching all over the city for a place to land and finds that landlords simply want too much. How much too much? Well, right now, Pages pays $200,000 annually and the landlord of the 265 Queen Street West location intends to jack it up to $400,000 come the end of February. That hit, plus the fact that book sales have been declining for two years, makes Glassman less than optimistic about the future.

Pages is particularly valued by independent magazine publishers since it is so open to carrying their titles, even when -- like Spacing -- the editors lug in copies themselves from the trunks of their cars, bypassing normal distribution channels. Indie titles are prominently and sympathetically displayed and browsing is encouraged.

Independent magazine stores are disappearing across Canada, such as the Magpie Magazine Gallery in Vancouver, Front Page News in Edmonton and Black Cat International in Sudbury.


Cultural Human Resources Council offers help with paying magazine interns

The Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC) in partnership with Canadian Heritage and Human Resources Development Canada is offering youth internship programs whereby it covers up to half the cost of paying an intern to work in, say, literary and cultural magazines. The deadline for application is February 1.

Through Career Focus (Human Resources Development Canada), employers must contribute twice as much as the amount requested from CHRC, with the whole amount going towards the gross salary of the intern and the employer's mandatory employment-related costs (such as Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan contributions, vacation pay and other mandatory deductions.

Through Building Careers in Heritage (Department of Canadian Heritage), employers must contribute 50 to 75% of the costs of the project in cash and in kind, with at least one-half of the employer's contribution in cash.

CHRC says it bases its contributions on a yearly salary of $30,000 (which in the case of most small magazines would mean the intern would be paid as much or more than the editor!). A minimum wage of $10 to $12 an hour is also acceptable in some cases and some of the magazine's contribution can be in-kind.

Interships could start at the earliest April 1 (Building Careers in Heritage) and May 1 (Career Focus). Internship lengths vary from 4 to 12 months depending on which program is being accessed.

To find out more, go here: Youth Internship Program.


Canadian Living magazine launches
mobile app

Canadian Living,one of Canada's largest and most successful magazines for women, has launched a smartphone application, dowloadable on any Blackberry or iPhone.

According to a story in Media in Canada, Canadian Living Mobile will automatically deliver and store content to a user's handheld device. (The magazine has 4.3 million readers of its print edition, according to PMB and its website,, has 1.2 million average unique monthly visitors, according to comScore.)

"This gives our readers - who lead very busy lives - a fun and useful tool to get trusted information while they're on the go," says Lynn Chambers, publisher of Canadian Living and

By leveraging address book integration on a user's smartphone, the app, developed by Toronto-based mobile tech provider Polar Mobile, also provides social media and viral features like article pass-alongs to friends and invites to use the application.

Since it launched on Sept. 15, another Transcontinental mobile app for The Hockey News ( has attracted 19,200 users.

The Canadian Living application can be dowloaded at And then, if you need to look up the recipe for Dundee Cake on your phone, you can.

Quote, unquote: What magazines
haven't learned

I’ve long believed that magazines should have great potential online because they already have communities of shared interest. And though magazines still - today - have franchises and value in print, it would be foolish, even suicidal to ignore other media already overtaken by the internet tidal wave. Music drowned. TV learned from that and started streaming online. Newspapers are going down for the third and last time. Magazines haven’t learned from that. The glossy monthlies may think they’re safe because they’re glossy but Time Magazine used to be huge and now it’s so thin I could use it to cut cheese. The weeklies, with their high costs and general interests, are dying just behind newspapers. Will the monthlies be next? I wouldn’t gamble against it, as some magazine publishers are doing.
-- Jeff Jarvis, a blogger (Buzz Machine) and Guardian columnist, responding to a statement by Conde Nast that the web is not a priority.


News of death of pirate site turns out to have been exaggerated

It would seem that, far from being crushed by the response of big magazine publishers, the pirate digital file-sharing company was simply lying doggo while it figured out how to come back to life. A posting by Dylan Stableford on Folio: says that he got a message from Pierre Bisaillon saying that he is the new director of corporate and business development at mygazines.

As many of you will recall, in the summer there was a flurry of activity prompted by the sudden start of the service, posting whole current and recent issues of magazines in digital form without so much as a by-your-leave from the publishers of those magazines, including a number of prominent Canadian titles such as Cottage Life and Canadian House & Home. Lawsuits ensued.

Related posts:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Newspaper editors organization may drop "paper" from its name

The American Society of Newspaper Editors is asking members whether it should change its name to the American Society of News Editors, dropping the word "paper" from their name. According to a story from the Associated Press, an April membership vote is scheduled in Chicago by which editors of news web sites also would be permitted to join, as would leaders of journalism programs.
"The proposals brought forth by the board recognize that the business of journalism, no surprise to you, has changed and that ASNE also needs to change to better serve our members, our industry and our craft," [Charlotte]Hall [president of the ASNE] said in her letter to members.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Beleagured Sun Media cutting 10% of workforce

The Sun Media chain is cutting 10% of its workforce -- about 600 jobs-- in western Canada, Ontario and Quebec, according to a Canadian Press report. Which can only mean that the already anemic Sun newspapers will be even less interesting than they are now.

Upbeat message delivered by Canadian magazine industry

There was an upbeat message for the public, and the magazine industry, in a story carried today in the Toronto Star, headed Magazine industry optimistic in face of storm.

Interviewed were Marco Ursi, the editor of the soon-to-be-online-only Masthead magazine and Mark Jamison, the president of Magazines Canada, the major trade association. Several points that you may have read here previously, including pointing out the differences between he Canadian magazine industry and its U.S. counterpart.

"The American magazine industry is in a very different place [from] the Canadian magazine industry, to the point where there is actually no comparison," Jamison says. "And I don't think that it's just that they are farther into the ditch."

"A lot of the American industry is finally looking at their costs and efficiencies for the first time. We've been doing that for the five or six years, while we've been experiencing growth."

Ursi said:
"It's not a death spiral. Magazines will come out of the recession and go back to doing the business they've done for a long time."
Rogers Publishing CEO Brian Segal said that, while the company had let go 4% of its workforce, and 2009 is going to be a very difficult year, all is not bleak:

"We're looking at how to reduce costs without hurting our brands and our relationship with our audiences and advertisers.

"I don't think there's anything unique about it. When the level of the lake goes down, it doesn't matter what boat you're sitting on. Advertising is down. But there's no real change in market share. And circulation is holding nicely."

U.S. magazine launches in 2008 were booming...maybe not

[This post has been updated] Though much of the activity predated the financial meltdown, it is still heartening to see that publishers in the U.S. launched 335 new magazines in 2008, according to a story in MediaDaily News, based on data from Biggest growth was in health (31 titles), regional (25 titles) and cooking and epicurean (17 titles).

[Update: But, according to a story in Folio: the numbers cited for magazine launches are all over the map. And Masthead's Marco Ursi makes a comment to this item that indicates that counts two Canadian titles.

The MediaDaily News story noted MediaFinder's figures varied from the 600 tracked between October 2007 and September 2008 by Samir Husni, a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi also known as "Mr. Magazine. And Husni says that magazines with a quarterly frequency or greater represented 191 launches, down from 233 in 2007. (Husni only counts magazine for which he has a hard copy.

And the Magazine Publishers of America said there were 191 starts, down from 271 in 2007. ]

One of the biggest new launches in this category was Spry, a newspaper-distributed magazine from the Publishing Group of America, which debuted with a circulation of 9 million in September. HealthyStyle, a competing newspaper-distributed title from Hearst, launched around the same time. Other big health category launches were Autism Research, Therapy Times and Living Well.

Regional magazines launched this year included Michigan Avenue, Orange Appeal and Mountain Time Magazine. This category, like others, has had its setbacks, including the closing in June of BusinessWeek's experimental Chicago edition, and the shuttering of Atlanta Peach, a luxe title for well-heeled citizens of Atlanta, earlier this month.

Finally, the food category has seen some high-profile launches, including the Food Network Magazine, published by Hearst in conjunction with the popular cable network. It is the latest in a series of magazines developed by Hearst around popular TV brands, including ESPN The Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, and the less successful Lifetime, which closed in September 2004.

Regrets, they've had a few, 2008 edition

Craig Silverman of Montreal the proprietor of the Regret the Error website (also a Globe and Mail columnist) has published his year-end round up of sometimes hilarious, sometimes tragic, oftentimes amazing corrections published by various publications worldwide. He has also published this -- from columnist Dave Barry -- as "correction of the year":
In yesterday's column about badminton, I misspelled the name of Guatemalan player Kevin Cordon. I apologize. In my defense, I want to note that in the same column I correctly spelled Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarak, Poompat Sapkulchananart and Porntip Buranapraseatsuk. So by the time I got to Kevin Cordon, my fingers were exhausted.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Detroit papers to curtail home delivery

The Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News are expected to be the first major metropolitan daily newspapers in the United States to cease home delivery of the paper's print edition. According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, the paper is expected to announce next week that the paper will only be delilvered on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, with a slimmed down newsstand edition available on other days.

The Free Press, owned by Gannett Co. and the News, owned by MediaNews Group, essentially operate as one entity under a joint operating agreement.

Even by industry standards, the Detroit papers have been hit particularly hard, a result of the troubled auto industry's impact on Michigan's economy. Dave Hunke, Detroit Media's chief executive, said in October, "It's time for us to look at some radical departures from our business model."

Weekday circulation has declined 15% at the Free Press and 22% at the News over the past five years, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. As of September, the Free Press had a weekday circulation of 298,243, including 200,110 home and mail subscribers. The comparable numbers at the News were 178,280 and 97,483.

In Canada, the closest comparable move was the decision by the National Post to give up home delivery in the Atlantic Provinces and on the prairies, directing those subscribers to an online version. (Whether any Canadian urban newspapers will follow the Detroit lead is an open question, as they struggle with the double whammy of changing reading, advertising and subscribing habits and the recession-induced decline in advertising lineage.)

Muchmor Media revamps one site, launches another

Muchmor Media, the publishers of the digital magazine Muchmor Canada, the digtal magazine, is starting 0ff the new year by unveiling a redesigned site and launching a new business-to-business digital title called The MBN magazine.

The company was started in 2001 and its first product was Muchmor Canada, a general interest site about life, health and wellness, Canadian business, interesting places to visit, Canadian cities, Canadian immigration. The MBN magazine will complement the company's business networking site.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Popular Torontoist website closing

Torontoist, the popular website/blog that is part of the U.S.-based Gothamist network, is closing up shop effective with year's end. David Topping, the editor, apparently precipitated the decision by announcing his resignation.
At the end of this month, I will be stepping down as Torontoist's Editor-in-Chief. I've loved everything about this job since I started it, and my decision to leave was not an easy one to make, but it is, ultimately, the right one at the right time for the right reasons. Gothamist has decided, as a result of both my resignation and the recession, to close Torontoist on January 1, 2009 and concentrate on their more lucrative American sites. That decision is the right one, too: as it exists now, Torontoist can barely be sustained, let alone developed, and it has survived and thrived as long as it has, in spite of modest means, largely because of the ceaseless hard work of that aforementioned collective. Torontoist may return at some later date, if conditions are different; until then, it will remain in suspended animation, its content still public and searchable.
Topping said that, since he became editor in 2006, Torontoist had published seven thousand articles about Toronto and received thirty-six thousand comments and ten million hits, though the site was created in October 2004.

Quote, unquote: Why Ken Whyte will miss
Time Canada

It's miserable news. I hate to see magazines closing and newspapers pulling back—this is my industry and I hate to see it in any way diminished. Time Canada had some terrific people on both the editorial and publishing sides and over the last couple of years we've lost all of them. It's a shame. I just hope that the US edition finds its feet and turns things around. I'm a great admirer of the brand. I've got back issues of Time from every decade of its existence in my office, and I still flip through them from time to time and steal ideas. I look forward to them rebounding so I can steal some more.
-- Maclean's editor and publisher Ken Whyte, about the impending closure of the Canadian edition of Time. From an online interview with Masthead editor Marco Ursi.


Transcontinental Inc. annual results reflect difficult last quarter

Transcontinental Inc. lost $132 million in net income in the last quarter of 2008,from $38.6 million in the same period a year ago to a loss of $94.2 million. The decline in net income for fiscal 2008 was $112 million, from $120.6 million in 2007 to $7.9 million in 2008, largely due to a write-off connected with restructuring of the company's direct mail business in the United States.

This year's total consolidated revenues for Canada's largest consumer magazine publisher were up 4%, to $2.43 billion, according to a company release.

The company was quick to note that adjusted net income, which excludes asset impairment, restructuring costs and unusual adjustments to income taxes, rose 11%, from $127.2 million to $141.6 million. And it said the company was in an excellent cash position for future growth.

“I am proud of our 2008 results, which again demonstrate our ability to grow in tough economic times,” said François Olivier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Transcontinental.


Magazines Ontario asks province for $20 million investment in industry

Magazines Ontario is asking the Ontario government for a new $20 million annual contribution for a government/industry partnership to stimulate investment in the sector. The document also asks for the development of a refundable tax credit for Ontario magazines.

The pre-budget submission refers to a recently published independent study conducted for the Ontario Media Development Corporation which recommended growth and job creation strategies and the creation of a tax credit for magazines -- the only cultural industry in Ontario without one.
While Ontario magazines have proven adaptable in meeting competition in the past [the submissions says], their ability to do so today is constrained by low profitability and lack of access of capital. This is due in part to intense competition from US publications which enjoy economies of scale Canadians cannot match and to a lower share of total advertising expenditures placed in magazines in Canada as a result of decisions made in other countries.
Online media is a challenging platform for several reasons:
  • There is no consensus about an Internet business strategy that generates revenue
  • Low profitability and uncertainty as to likely online revenues make it difficult for publishers to make the required heavy investments in digital media
However, with the right investments, publishers will be able to create new content for many platforms including online, events, screen based and print by extending existing respected “brands” to new audiences. The potential is there if the capital to invest can be secured.
Magazines Ontario says the new government investment recommended would complement publishers' own investments and could be made in
  • Research, particularly in advertising trends
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Training
  • Collective programs and purchasing
  • Developing and implementing measurement tools of all kinds including tracking Internet usage
  • Gathering and disseminating information and expertise to support brand extension activities
The brief calls a refundable tax credit "the most effective tool available to the Ontario government to help Ontario’s magazine publishers" and says among its many attributes would be the fact that it would not be restricted to profitable, tax-paying fimrs but could provide opportunities for newer, smaller and growing publishing groups.

In addition to the funding recommendations, Magazines Ontario's submission returned once again to a couple of perennial issues:
  • to try and end the Ontario government subsidy of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario's magazine Food & Drink to the detriment of private sector magazines; and
  • to ensure that foreign publishers pay their fair share of blue box levies, which they now mostly ignore.


Smaller advertiser leading the way in
advertising cutbacks

Smaller advertisers are more acutely sensitive to shifts in the economy and these so-called "long tail" advertisers, who accounted for much of the expansion of U.S. advertising markets in the past couple of years, are now cutting back more than their bigger brethren.

According to data provided by TNS Media Intelligence, reported by MediaDaily News, the bottom third of the market has been cutting back and contributing the most to the 1.7% decline in U. S. ad spending.
"If you go back one or two years, when we were seeing modest growth of 2% or 3% in ad spending, the grow was coming from the bottom of the market. Those smaller, long-tail advertisers were in the forefront of the advance. Now they are leading the retreat," explains Jon Swallen, senior vice president-research and the de facto chief economist at TNS MI.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Will Rogers's magazine content cross over onto Rogers's 24-hr Toronto news channel?

The approval by the CRTC of Rogers Broadcasting Ltd.'s application for a license to operate a 24-hour news and information channel to serve Greater Toronto raises the question about whether we'll see any transfer of Rogers consumer and trade content onto the small screen. According to a report on J-source,
"programming would consist of a mix of local news, traffic, weather, business, sports and entertainment information devoted exclusively to residents in the Greater Toronto and commuting areas."

The new channel is called CITY News Toronto and will compete with other 24-hour channels such as CP24, CTV Newsnet and CBC's Newsworld, which the public broadcaster recently announced will be overhauled.

New UK service "curates" independent magazines, for a price

A just-launched site based in the UK now plans to offer direct delivery of independent English-language magazines from around the world using a mix-and-match or "curated" model. Subscribers to Stack can choose six, eight or 12 issues delivered to them each year and the service selects the best issues of particular magazines on its list, which at the moment contains only 7 relatively little-known titles (hence, indies), mostly alternative music magazines including the U.S.-based Arthur and British titles such as Bad Idea, B East,Electric Sheep, Little White Lies, Plan B (shown) and Shook.
"Each delivery of Stack is a surprise so there’s no way of knowing what will come next," says the website."However, every magazine delivered by Stack comes with a guarantee that it represents the very best of independent magazine publishing, targeted at young, intelligent readers who appreciate an alternative to the mainstream."
Stack helps pay for its service by selling advertising inserts, it says. However don't get too excited. Costs in the UK are steep and in the rest of the world, even steeper. Six magazines delivered in the UK cost £18; if you wanted the same six delivered to Canada, it would cost £45, or something like $100, or $16 apiece.

Magazine world view

Another in our occasional series of links to magazine-related stories from outside of Canada.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Time Canada folding

Time Canada, which for decades has symbolized the carpetbagger tendencies of U.S. magazine publishers in the Canadian market, is to be shut down, according to a report in the Financial Post.

A web post said a spokesperson for the company that publishes Time Canada confirmed the rumour Wednesday.

"Due to the challenging economic climate and recent Time Inc. restructuring, Time is eliminating its Canadian advertiser edition immediately after publication of the 12/29 issue. Moving forward, readers and advertisers in Canada will be served by TIME's U.S. Edition," said Ali Zelenko in an emailed statement.

Time Inc. has published a Canadian edition of its flagship magazine for over 60 years, although the current version no longer carries any Canadian editorial content.

A source at the company said that decision will result in 7 people at the company's Toronto sales office losing their jobs.

The decision is part of a retrenchment throughout the Time empire; about a week ago, Time Europe was essentially discontinued, though a skeleton staff will remain in London. Most of the magazine will be edited from New York. Apparently, now so will the version of Time that is distributed in Canada, although it has been some time since the magazine carried any original Canadian stories. The sole reason for maintaining the fiction of a "Canadian edition" was to cream off some domestic advertising.

A bit of historical background:

In 1960, the O'Leary Royal Commission made recommendations, accepted by the government of the day, that disallowed tax deductions for advertising in foreign-owned periodicals in Canada. The "Canadian editions" of Time and Reader's Digest were exempted from the legislation.

In 1975, Bill C-58 amended the Income Tax Act to give enhanced tax relief to advertisers in Canadian publication, a move that was credited with encouraging the blossoming of the Canadian magazine industry (in the first year after C-58, revenues for Canadian magazines jumped 74%).

Thereafter, Time Canada out of Montreal essentially became solely an advertising competitor.

The decision now (which has been rumoured off and on for a couple of years) is probably because of a combination of factors: the fall in advertising sales; across-the-board retrenchment; and the possible implementation of "distance-based pricing" for subscriber copies by Canada Post. Although Canadians will still be able to subscribe, don't look for cheap subs in the future; now the magazine can simply print extra copies of the U.S. edition and dump them onto newsstands to serve the Canadian market.

Cheery yellow "colour of the year" evokes hope and reassurance

Pantone, the colour standards company, has picked mimosa, a bright yellow, as its "colour of the year" for 2009, which it describes as "a warm, engaging yellow".
"In a time of economic uncertainty and political change, optimism is paramount and no other color expresses hope and reassurance more than yellow.

"The color yellow exemplifies the warmth and nurturing quality of the sun, properties we as humans are naturally drawn to for reassurance," explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. "Mimosa also speaks to enlightenment, as it is a hue that sparks imagination and innovation."
You may remember that, last year, before the current economic troubles, Pantone selected a "dependable, strong, soul-searching purple" called Blue Iris.

Publishers of Sharp magazine win contract to produce Audi customer mag

Contempo Media, the publishers of Sharp magazine, have won the contract to publish a twice-annual customer magazine for Audi Canada, starting this spring. The circulation will be to 20,000 Audi owners at their home addresses and also through Audi outlets and events.

Contempo was launched in February by former partners in Driven magazine and, in addition to Sharp, publishes Time & Style, a magazine about high end watches.

"The magazine will offer a vibrant mix of all things Audi: sports, architecture, design, fashion, society, travel and fabulous cars”, explains Michael La Fave , Contempo's editorial and creative director.

Google rolls out online magazine searching

Google, the dominant search engine, having reached an agreement to put books online, is now negotiating to do the same with magazines. According to a story in, Google is partnering with publishers such as Hearst, Johnson Publishing, Emmis Publishing and New York Media to put magazine archives and current issues online.

Already there are more than a million articles available from Men's Health, Atlanta Magazine, Ebony and New York magazine. Users search through the articles—complete with vintage ad spreads via Google Book Search. Eventually, they will be reachable through general Google searches. And how is money being made? Sponsored links are being run beside the articles, and participating publishers get a percentage.

Google says that few magazine archives are available online, something they're intent on rectifying:
For years, we've worked to make as much information as possible accessible online, [says Google in a blog posting] whether that information comes from books, newspapers, or images. We think that bringing more magazines online is one more important step toward our long-standing goal of providing access to all the world's information.
Related posts:

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Newsweek said to be slashing its readership guarantee

Word from a variety of sources is that Newsweek, the number two U.S. newsmagazine, is considering slashing its rate base by 1.6 million, to make the guaranteed delivery target 1 million readers. A story from Folio: says

Executives at Newsweek began discussing a rate base rollback as early as this summer, according to a pair of sources familiar with these discussions.

“A million [rate base] was the extreme,” said the source. But, as the year wore on, and the economic crisis worsened, “[they] didn’t see a recovery."

Time cut its rate base by 750,000 copies in January 2007. Newsweek followed suit, dropping 500,000 copies from its circulation in November of that year.
But a cut of this size is nonetheless risky. “To make that jump, you better increase your CPM dramatically,” noted the source, “or you’ll lose millions.”


Monday, December 08, 2008

Pulitzer Prize recognizes this new-fangled
Internet thing

The Pulitzer Prize, one of the world's most valued journalism awards, has finally recognized the internet; news organizations will now be able to submit text-only online content in all 14 journalism categories. This means that newspapers can submit online-only work, says a story in And text-based sources that publish only online are now also eligible, according to a release from the Pulitzer Prize Board.

"This is an important step forward, reflecting our continued commitment to American newspapers as well as our willingness to adapt to the remarkable growth of online journalism," said Sig Gissler, administrator of the Prizes. "The new rules enlarge the Pulitzer tent and recognize more fully the role of the Web, while underscoring the enduring value of words and of serious reporting.”

The Board will continue to monitor the impact of the Internet, Gissler said.

(The Pulitzers only allow entries from U.S. based newspapers or news organizations, publishing in print and (now) online.)

Three questions and three answers from Derek Finkle of the Canadian Writers Group

We've asked three questions of founder Derek Finkle and see what his responses are. Herewith:

Q: There seems to be quite a bit of hostility among commenters, at least on this blog (albeit anonymously) to the very idea of negotiating higher freelance fees. Is that something you're finding as you develop this idea?
A: No, not really. I can’t think of a single editor or publisher I’ve spoken to in the magazine world who didn’t completely understand why the Canadian Writers Group has been embraced the way it has by so many quality freelance writers. Despite the fact that the agency isn’t officially in business yet, we’ve already successfully negotiated a few magazine stories, newspaper exclusives (one in the Toronto Star this past weekend), and some great commercial work for our writers. One well-known magazine in Toronto used the agency last week to help fill a senior editorial contract position. Not one person involved in theses transactions seemed fazed in the least to be working with an agency.
I think everyone is used to people venting when rich Hollywood actors go on strike or those cheeky public-transit workers decide to take a walk to get cost-of-living increases. But when a few hundred Canadian freelance writers announce that they want to join an agency – hardly a novel concept in the arts world – to combat the fact that pay rates have remained stagnant for, oh, about three decades, a couple of anonymous bloggers call them “irresponsible” and “whiners.” Considering that the Canadian magazine industry has seen a 35 percent growth in ad revenue over the past seven years, it’s pretty hard to take those comments seriously.
Q: You didn't choose to launch this during a financial meltdown, but that's what's happening. Do you think that will make a difference to your success?
A: It’s certainly going to sharpen the focus of our strategy out of the gate, that’s for sure. We’ll be concentrating on specific publications, particularly on the rights front. When I started out fifteen years ago, most magazines were buying first-serial rights only. Now we’ve got magazines like Toronto Life asking writers to sign contracts that give away copyright for a year, along with web and other permanent rights, for no more money than the magazine paid its contributors twenty years ago. Readers Digest wants copyright forever. Creators in other fields – musicians, actors, photographers – have done a much better job of protecting their rights. And freelance writers need to learn from that.

There is actually a revolt going on in Western Canada right now because CanWest has recently forced the contributors of Swerve, a weekly magazine distributed by the Calgary Herald, to surrender just about every conceivable right to their work – in the universe, in perpetuity – for no added compensation whatsoever. I’m told there’s not one single regular Swerve contributor who intends to sign this new contract. Apparently, there won’t be enough content to publish the magazine in a few weeks unless CanWest backs off. A few members of your blog’s anonymous chorus seem to be suggesting that these writers are acting irresponsibly in the face of a contract that the vast majority of freelancers – and editors, for that matter – would find offensive, especially when the writers in question are getting something like 40 cents a word.
Q: How do you respond to people who a) fear some writers will lose out if other writers get paid better and b) scoff at the very notion of publishers negotiating and paying higher fees?
A: One of the biggest problems with magazine freelancing is that not only are the rates generally abysmal, there isn’t a sufficient career arc for even the most in-demand and experienced writers. Too many talented people see the low ceiling and drop out altogether. One CWG writer was recently offered a contract for a column with a women’s fashion magazine, and when you factored in how much time this column was going to take each month, the $1/wd they were offering her – the same rate that particular magazine paid me in 1995 – worked out to the equivalent of about $30K per year. This writer had just left an editorial job at another fashion magazine that paid her $55K. So the same way a talented editor can climb up the ladder and make more money, freelance writers need similar monetary inspiration to stay with it. And should CWG writers start to get paid more fairly for the value of their talents and time, that’s going to positively affect all kinds of other writers. So it’s not about a money grab for a select few, it’s about creating a more realistic pay scale or arc for everyone, whether it’s a young talent or a prize-decorated veteran.

Do publishers want to start paying more for content? If the past few decades – regardless of the economic climate – have proven anything, it’s that they don’t. But if we represent the majority of a magazine’s regular contributors – and that will be the case for a number of publications – then I don’t think it will be difficult to get publishers and editors to come to the table, especially when most magazines already deal with all kinds of other agencies. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from successful agents all over the Western hemisphere, it’s that even in lousy economic times, quality still sells.
Related posts:

Christie Heffner steps down as Playboy chair and will leave as CEO

Christie Heffner is stepping down as chair of Playboy Enterprises today and as CEO at the end of January, and planning to leave the board altogether when a replacement CEO is found, according to a posting on It's the end of two decades wrestling the financial difficulties of her father Hugh's iconic magazine and soft porn empire, founded in 1953.

Playboy has had significant financial difficulties recently, posting a net loss in Q3 and losses totalling $1.1 million year to date. Wall Street has apparently indicated its approval of Ms Heffner's departure by bidding up the stock by 17 per cent.

There will be no tag days for her. According to SEC filings, the least she will receive upon leaving the company will be more than $3 million.

Looming deadlines, new requirements, for National Magazine Awards

Three things worth noting about this year's National Magazine Awards:
  • Small magazines with a circulation under 20,000 and revenues under $250,000 may be eligible for financial assistance from the National Magazine Awards Foundation; however the deadline to apply for it is this Friday, December 12.
  • There’s a new category this year – Best Single Issue – which will reward the overall quality and originality of your magazine’s best issue of the year.
  • There is a new submissions requirement this year: entrants must upload PDF versions of entries via an online submissions process (instead of sending them on a CD later). This is in addition to the hard copies which also must be submitted by the January 9 deadline.
The submissions process is now open at, and the deadline is January 9, 2009.


Maisonneuve's MediaScout daily media briefing is to be closed down

MediaScout, the feisty, entertaining and informative daily commentary on Canada's top new media, published by Maisonneuve magazine in Montreal, is being closed down effective Friday, December 19. A note to subscribers today follows:

Dear reader,

For the last four-and-a-half years, MediaScout has delighted and informed Canadians each weekday morning as we attempted to make sense - and some fun - of how the nation’s top media interpreted the previous day’s news.

Unfortunately, Maisonneuve magazine can no longer support the cost of producing MediaScout on its own. Moreover, we have been unable to secure an alternative means of long-term, sustainable funding to continue MediaScout into 2009.

MediaScout will therefore continue to publish until December 19, 2008, at which point it will go into an indefinite hiatus. We hope to restart publication in future if the funding can be found. However, there are currently no plans to continue efforts to pursue such funding.

We are obviously sad to put MediaScout on the shelf. But we are also proud of what we, and our contributors, have accomplished in this pioneering online publication.

Mainly, however, we would like to thank you, dear reader, for your support and interest in MediaScout since you subscribed. It’s been a great ride and we’re proud to have shared it with you.

If you have any comments or ideas as we look to the future, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Phillip Todd
MediaScout founder and managing editor

Derek Webster
Maisonneuve publisher & editor-in-chief

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Human rights complainant has change of heart; target Levant doesn't buy it

The protagonist in the protracted campaign by former Western Standard magazine publisher Ezra Levant against the Alberta (and other) human rights commissions has apparently reversed his field.

According to a story from the CanWest news service, Imam Syed Soharwardy is opening a Freedom of Speech Centre in Calgary to openly discuss cultural issues of the day.Soharwardy says he has had a change of heart.
"My view of the human rights commission has changed almost 180 degrees," he told Canwest News Service. "Especially about this Section 13, the freedom of speech....

"I wish we could have sat down at that time and talked it out rather than me going to a human rights complaint and Mr. Levant writing about me in the media and on the website," Soharwardy says. "I think it would have helped us both."
Soharwardy, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada launched a complaint against Levant in February 2006 for publishing the so-called "Danish cartoons" that lampooned the prophet Muhammad. Soharwardy claimed that their publication was a form of hate speech.

Levant fought back, hard, and has missed no opportunity since to slam human rights legislation as an offence against free speech, even after the Western Standard folded its print edition and Soharwardy backed out of his complaint. Levant claimed he had spent $10,000 defending himself in the case.

Levant doesn't buy Soharwardy's conversion.But he said it's clear opinion is piling up against the commissions.

"The only people in the country who still support it are those who have a direct financial stake in it," he said.

Related posts: