Friday, July 31, 2009

TVA Group has 18% profit increase in Q2 on flat revenue

TVA Group Inc., Quebcor Media's television and magazine publishing arm, saw a rise in second quarter profits by 18%, it has been reported. Net income of $15.2 million or 63 cents a share for the period ended June 30. That's up from year-earlier profits of $12.9 million or 49 cents a share. Operating income on the publishing side was flat at $3.3 million. TVA's total operating revenues were up a slight $500,000 to $111.5 million. The company declared a dividend of 5 cents, payable September 1.

Magazine world view

Cobi Ladner finds her next career

A little over a year ago, Cobi Ladner surprised her colleagues by resigning as editor of Canadian House & Home magazine, a job she had held for 10 years. At the time, she said she hadn't quite decided what her next career would be.

Now, she has created a home and design website called Cobi that she refers to as here "new on-line home". The site, infused with her "personal style and spirit" among other things,offers in-home design services, with the opportunity to hire Cobi and her team to advise on decor and renovations. A two-hour consultaton with Cobi herself is $650; with a member of her team, $550.

Apparently she will also be following in the footsteps of Martha Stewart by branding home and lifestyle products.
It’s amazing to me that through the process of developing my own brand, how easily we figured out what cobi stands for...a collection of beautiful ideas. How that collection forms over the next little while – products, words, pictures – only the future knows. Some might say I’m naive to try starting something – anything – in this economy. But the fact is, the ideas I have in mind, aren’t about having a lot of money. In fact, they can be the bright side that gets you through not having a lot of money.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Penguin Canada recruiting bloggers
to review its books

In a development that seems to be not-very-good news for publications whose content includes book reviews, Penguin Group (Canada) is recruiting for its Bloggers & Books Network.
“We are targeting book lovers, from fans of Dan Brown to Philip Roth. The benefits of the program are two-fold. We expose our books and authors to a blogger’s audience and bloggers benefit by gaining access to coveted advance reading copies, special invitations to author and industry events, and having direct contact with our publicity department.” says Christina Ponte, Senior Manger, Online Marketing. “This means bloggers within our network have exclusive privileges we haven’t made widely available anywhere else.

“With the shift to digital, reaching out to amateur and professional bloggers seems like a natural evolution in the way we market books,” says Ponte.
Bloggers interested in joining the network are invited to complete an online questionnaire.

Two, high-end magazine photo shows coming to Toronto this fall

Lovers of high-end magazine photography are in for a treat this fall as two major shows are debuting in Toronto, according to a story on
  • The Art Gallery of Ontario is featuring Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Condé Nast Years, 1923 -1937, It has 200 images from early fashion shoots from Vogue and Vanity Fair. Steichen was chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair. The show brought record crowds when it was features at Britain's National Portrait Gallery earlier this year.
  • The Royal Ontario Museum is bringing Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913-2008 the work of several photographers, including Steichen,Martin Hölig, Cecil Beaton, Baron De Meyer, Man Ray, Bruce Weber and Annie Leibovitz. Their subjects are figures from the literary world, film, music and art, including H.G. Wells, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Rebecca West, Ernest Hemingway and George Bernard Shaw.
Both shows open September 26 and run until January 3, 2010.

[Steichen photo: Gelatin silver print, Conde Nast Archive, New York]

Saskatchewan hunting mismanagement criticized by owner of Big Buck magazine

The editor of Saskatchewan-based Big Buck magazine says that mismanagement of hunting licenses in the province is so "appalling" in the province that he fears for the very existence of some populations of deer and moose.

In a letter to the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, Garry Donald takes issue with conservation officers saying that game animals are flourishing because fewer American hunters are coming to the province because of the recession. In fact, his letter says, deer numbers in the central and southern regions of the province are much lower than the ministry states. Even in northern Saskatchewan, whitetail deer were reduced by 70 to 80% by the severe winter of 2006-07.
To prove the ministry has lost touch with all reality with game management, here's another example. In a 150-km radius of Rosetown alone, 300 bull moose and 400 cow moose tags were issued. All across central and southern zones, many more moose will be eliminated.

I strongly believe that we need to control game populations through hunting, but to issue that many tags in one season makes no sense. If you have never seen a moose in the wild, you have until Oct. 1 to do so. After that, your chances will be bleak.

Online sub sales, new and renewal, expected to be 14% in 2009

The recent trend in growth of internet-sourced subscriptions continues, according to research released by the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA). The MPA said that it expects 14% of total subscription sales, new and renewal, will come from online sources in 2009.

Based on surveys conducted with member publishers in 2008 and 2009 (four months worth of data), online sourcing of new business was at 22% of gross. That compares with 13% in 2006.

The data is based on results from only 55 titles, so it needs to be regarded with some caution. But it was interesting that
  • new business fares much better online than renewals, which stand at only 2%. There is a long way to go before readers renew online;
  • magazine-branded websites are the leading source of internet subscriptions, representing 45% of sales;
  • search engine marketing is a relatively small source, but growing.
“Magazine publishers are smartly levering online marketing opportunities to expand their audience, grow readership and increase subscription revenues,” said Nina Link, President and CEO of the MPA. “The web is becoming the number one source for direct-to-publisher subscriptions for member magazines.”

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Adventures in long-form magazine editing

J-source has adapted and re-published an excellent article on long-form magazine editing, originally written last year by Bill Reynolds for Literary Journalism, the newsletter of the International Association for Literary Journalism Studies. Reynolds is head of the magazine stream at Ryerson University.

It's relatively unusual for such reflective writing about the craft, based on real stories and well-written itself (as opposed to turgid academic jargon). It provides good examples of how a story can be saved or made better by the way in which it is told.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

IAB says online advertising up 29% in 2008; quadrupled in 5 years

The Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada (IAB) today announced that online advertising grew by 29% in 2008, reaching an estimated $1.6 billion.
Publisher revenue from Online advertising in Canada has more than quadrupled over the past five years -- building from $364 million in 2004 to the $1.6 billion mark in 2008 -- surpassing 2008 Radio revenues of $1.55 billion in the process.
The bureau says online now represents 11% of the total $14 billion adspend in Canada.
“Even in the face of uncertain economic conditions and continued pressure on total advertising budgets, clearly, Online advertising has cemented itself as a mainstay in the overall media buy,” says Paula Gignac, President, IAB Canada.

“And although 2009 has presented substantial challenges to the entire Canadian marketing community, we’re confident that Online advertising will continue to grow at the projected pace, for the simple reason that as the Internet continues to engage and delight consumers, it matches these accomplishments with a persistent ability to deliver measureable Advertiser results.”
Full text of report

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Magazine world view

Why music magazines are struggling

Music magazines are dying says Slate magazine bliogger Jonah Weiner, for three reasons:
  • There are fewer superstars and the same faces are published on every cover;
    No matter how striking your cover is, it will pop from the racks that much less thanks to the inevitable media saturation of its star. My former editor at Blender, Craig Marks, identified this phenomenon as "cover fatigue": In trying to book covers with maximum reach, music magazines dunk month after month into the same shrinking pool of monolithic stars.
  • Music magazines have less to offer readers; with the proliferation of online music, fans don't need the mediation of critics anymore;
    Unfortunately, the days when Cameron Crowe could spend months reporting a story from Led Zeppelin's tour bus are long gone. Tabloids have helped make stars wary, if not scornful, of journalists of all stripes, print doesn't fill artists' coffers (many high-powered publicists have repeated the mantra to me that press doesn't sell albums), and so artists big and medium give music magazines less of themselves than ever.
  • Social networking has replaced a large part of what music magazines used to do for their readers.
    One of the most important historical functions of music magazines has been precisely to speak in a semisecret language that separates in-the-know us from square them. Rolling Stone, Spin, and Vibe made their names on the backs of outsider music movements that were storming the mainstream: '60s rock counterculture, '90s alternative, and '90s hip-hop, respectively. (Blender aligned itself with a less oppositional, "poptimist" perspective.) Picture that mythical orange-haired girl walking around a nowheresville suburb in 1994 with a rolled-up Spin in her back pocket—it's not just a magazine but a badge, an amulet, a pipeline to a world far removed from her local food court.

Rogers media division projecting 4% to 10% decline in earnings

Rogers Communications Inc. is forecasting that its media division, including its major consumer and trade magazine properties, TV stations and Toronto Blue Jays, will see a decline earnings this year from 4 to 10%, driven by continuing weaknesses in advertising.

Rogers announced a net adjusted profit of $412-million on revenue of $2.89-billion for the quarter. Long-term debt load was $8.55-billion.

In its second-quarter earnings report, Rogers said its revenue would increase by 2 per cent to 4 per cent for the year, a cut from the original forecast of 5-per-cent to 9-per-cent revenue growth. The softness prompted a a 4.9-per-cent decline in Rogers' stock price. "We don't see anything in the economy that puts us on the cusp of a recovery," said Nadir Mohamed, CEO of Rogers.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Yukon publisher charts his own course

The website The Awl has published an interesting, if unchallenging, Q&A with Greg Karais, publisher of Yukon: North of Ordinary magazine. His approach was and continues to be somewhat unconventional. He says
"I think there’s a total misunderstanding of what’s up here. I think people think we’re kind of backwater up here, kind of hillbillyish. It’s well-educated up here, nice clothes, good cars. It’s completely misunderstood. People think cold weather is bad, but we can drive in the winter here. The humidity of southern Ontario or Lake Michigan is far worse than the winters here. A hundred steps down my driveway, and this is obviously not everywhere here, but I have a hundred-mile view in either direction. If you go hiking, you feel like you’re the first person that’s ever been somewhere."

Canadian fashion titles hold up well in crucial September issues

Major Canadian fashion magazines are doing considerably better than their U.S. counterparts in the crucial September issues, according to a story in Media In Canada. While magazines like Vogue, Elle and InStyle are down an average 27% for their September issues,Canadian titles Flare, Fashion and Elle Canada are only down slightly.
  • Fashion was down 10 pages from last year's 206, but Lilia Lozinski, senior VP, St. Joseph Media said revenue was virtually the same.
  • Elle Canada is 216 pages, compared with last year's 242.
  • Flare is actually bigger than last year's 232 page September, but got a boost this year because it is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Michele Beaulieu, SVP group director at Starcom Worldwide, said:
"In Canada, while there are many magazines that carry fashion and beauty editorial, there are fewer that would be considered specifically fashion and beauty. With limited budgets in this economy, many advertisers are focusing efforts on tightly targeting the consumer in environments where she is most receptive to the advertising message'"

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Quote, unquote: Cultural program spending depends on your definition

During the final budgetary year of former prime minister Paul Martin's government, $18.06 of every $1,000 spent by the government was spent on cultural programs. That jumped in Harper's first year in government to $19.54 but by this year it has fallen back to about where the Liberals were at $18.23 of every $1,000 spent by the government.
-- From an excellent, long and detailed report by indefatigable blogger David Akin about support for cultural spending in Ottawa. He makes some very good points about the over-broad definitions that both Liberals and the current Conservatives use for what culture is.


"Spot our ad" campaign used by Urbanology magazine to build readership

Urbanology magazine has a creative new readership building campaign that gets readers to spot and snap pictures of their subway ads and e-mail them in.

According to a story in Marketing magazine, the campaign is in part financed by a $23,000 grant from the magazine fund of the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

Anyone who snaps a picture of a “Content that Matters” ad running in Toronto’s subway system will receive a free one-year subscription to the magazine. The subway ads use images of hip-hop artists Ice Cube and Drake (shown above).

Priya Ramanujam, co-publisher and editor-in-chief of Urbanology Magazine, said the publication wanted to use strong images of attention-grabbing personalities, and incorporate at least one Canadian (Drake) into the mix....

The promotion is a fun way to engage the magazine’s readership, which tends to be on the younger side, said Ramanujam.

“We realized that we needed lots of creative ways to continually resonate in young people’s minds,” she said.

The campaign is being promoted through social networking sites and the magazine's 10,000 member e-newsletter database.

In addition to the "spot the ad" initiative, the magazine is sending street teams with cameras to ask passersby at events like Caribana to say what matters to them. Participants receive a free T-shirt.

Naked Eye publisher charged wtih gangsterism and fraud

Masthead magazine has published an updated report on the arrest of the publisher of Naked Eye magazine.
Burton Rice, publisher of Naked Eye magazine, was arrested on June 3 after police raided a warehouse where, according to authorities, safes containing $3.4 million in cash were discovered. Rice, 34, has been charged with gangsterism, fraud exceeding $5,000, and conspiracy as part of a two-year investigation involving more than 600 officers from the Montreal force, the Sûreté du Québec, the RCMP and Kahnawake Mohawk Peacekeepers, dubbed “Project Machine.”

Waste not guide to paper from British magazine publishing industry

There's a good primer on saving on paper waste in magazines from the Periodical Publishers Association of Great Britain. [thanks to Magazines Canada for alerting us to this]. While it deals with British conditions and paper sizes, it details what alert publishers can do to avoid waste when buying and managing paper through the entire process. Even though publishers rarely if ever buy their own paper, relying instead on their printers, being aware of the various stages where waste can happen can make a big difference.

Plastic bag tax is working; one chain sees 70% decline in use

A month after implementing a 5-cent charge for plastic grocery bags, the Metro grocery chain has experienced a 70% decline in their use, according to a story in Solid Waste & Recycling magazine. Not only that, demand for reusable bags have gone up 5 times.
Selena Fiacco, a spokesperson with Metro Ontario Inc., said that the results are encouraging because they confirm that customers are willing to change their shopping habits.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Where's my magazine? Or where's my
refund? ask readers

Generally, when a magazine folds there is one of two possible outcomes for the subscribers: the remainder of their subscriptions are filled by another, similar magazine; or the magazine just stops coming. In relatively few instances, the publisher refunds the subscriber's money for outstanding issues.

Part of the reason why subscribers shrug and put up with what is essentially a breach of contract is that the whole transaction is so small it's not worth the trouble to pursue a refund on, say, half a $20 subscription.

But this particular worm may be turning, as evidenced by a story in Folio: magazine about a seriously steamed subscriber to the late Vibe magazine who last week filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court in Manhattan claiming breach of contract and seeking class action status demanding not only the return of 9 months' outstanding portion of his subscription, but that it do the same for all of its subscribers (there are 800,000 of them).

According to a story from Reuters

“As the magazine was quietly closing up the shop, the Vibe website continued to contain links to advertisements enticing customers to purchase subscriptions to the magazine,” the lawsuit says, naming Vibe Media Group as a defendant along with unnamed people associated with the magazine. Vibe should have “publicly disclosed to subscribers that it was teetering on the brink of insolvency,” it says.

The odd thing is that magazines pay close attention to such liabilities in their own accounting, then seem to treat them fairly cavalierly when it comes to their customers.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Magazine world view

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Magazine writer Andrew Nikiforuk wins prestigious award for tar sands book

Andrew Nikiforuk, an award winning Alberta magazine journalist and non-fiction book writer has been awarded the 8th annual Rachel Carson Environment Book Award from the U.S.-based Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ). (The award is named after the author of the groundbreaking environmental book Silent Spring, published in 1962 and widely credited with launching the environmental movement.)

Nikiforuk was honoured for his book Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent (Greystone Books) and thereby becomes the first Canadian to win the $10,000 (U.S.) award. The book has previously won the 2009 City of Calgary W. O. Mitchell Book Prize.

[Thanks to Quill & Quire for alerting us to this award.]

From the SEJ website:

Andrew Nikiforuk paints an alarming picture in northern Alberta, Canada: International oil companies clear cut huge swaths of boreal forest, rake off the boggy soil, scoop up giant shovelfuls of oil sands with the largest machines on earth and use copious amounts of boiling water to separate tarry bitumen from the sand so it can be turned into petroleum for your car in Kansas. The toxic residue that comes off the sands is stored behind gigantic dikes that leak, and downstream people and fish are sick.

You can find a link to read an excerpt from Tar Sands at Nikiforuk's website.

Related posts:


Quote, unquote: Teens don't read? Oh, really

I start out by telling them, in a nice way, that they are misinformed. Clearly, teenagers multi-task and they are voracious with their media usage. But magazines have always been and continue to be a really important source for beauty and fashion trend information for young women. What has been so interesting to me is when you see the success of Twilight for example, which sold 16% of all books in the United States in the first quarter of this year (all four books). I don’t think that those are a lot of adult women reading those titles. So, I think that what people need to understand is that teens, especially female teen have always enjoyed magazines. But advertisers have walked away from this market, and it’s not really a readership problem, it’s an advertising problem.
-- Jayne Jamison, the publisher of Seventeen magazine, the largest teen magazine, telling Samir "Mr. Magazine" Husni one of the ways she responds to suggestions that teens don't read.


Five ways to green your magazine

Bruce Jensen, group vice president of sales for Transcontinental Printing’s magazine, book & catalogue group, has a brief, commonsensical article for Folio: on "greening" the way magazines do business, written from a printer's perspective.

I say common sense, because most publishers may know the following things, but don't always insist on doing them.
  • Use low-volatility inks and coatings and go easy on ink coverage
  • Use paper that has resulted from environmentally responsible forestry and manufacturing processes.
  • Manage retail distribution and, working with distributors, adjust order levels (this is sometimes easier said than done).
  • Use good list hygiene and co-mailing to avoid undeliverable copies and mailing inefficiency.
  • Use digital workflow to eliminate redundant proofing and deliveries.

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List rental prices levelling off

Prices for list rentals -- used by magazine publishers, among others, to reach new audience -- have levelled off and in some cases have declined because of soft demand, according to information from the Worldata List Price Index, reported by the magazine Audience Development.

Permission-based email b-to-b is the highest-priced category, with a straight average price of $288/M, a decrease of $11/M from last year.

Public sector ranks the second highest-priced category range, with straight average prices of $174/M, increasing $4/M from last year.

Donors remains the lowest-priced category with an average list price of $84/M, increasing $1/M over last year.

“This quarter we are noticing prices within many of the categories have started to level-off, a sign of the times that the economy is attempting to stabilize,” Ray Tesi, SVP, Worldata, said in a statement. “I think it is important to note that although there is a huge difference from last summer to now, from quarter-to-quarter we are starting to see prices even out. Consumer email files are still dropping, showing the most price activity from last summer to this summer. The consumer market is still evolving in order to keep marketers interested.”

The index provides a comparison of list prices during any given 12-month period and tacking price fluctuations, as cost per thousand (CPM), for lists in various categories.


Newspaper publishers band together to control use of, payment for content

Newspaper publishers in the U.S. are hoping that a consortium approach will allow them to control -- and be compensated for -- the use of their content. According to a story in Editor & Publisher magazine, more than 1,000 publishers, representing more than 50% of the top U.S. papers, has signed on to the Fair Syndication Consortium. AdBrite, an online advertising marketplace, has agreed to work with the consortium to help monetize content.
The Fair Syndication Consortium strategy is to track sites that swipe and re-use content from the original creators. The Consortium would then contact the site as well as the networks serving ads for compensation.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Readers fairly critical of high cost of Economist accessed on Kindle e-reader

U.S. readers of The Economist can now have wireless delivery of the magazine to their Kindle readers (Kindle or Kindle DX) for a fairly bracing $10.49 a month or $5.49 for a single, weekly issue, ordered through Amazon, according to a newsletter from publisher Ben Edwards. The magazine is one of about 30 titles Amazon is now offering for the e-readers, including some major titles such as The New Yorker, Fortune, Forbes, The Atlantic, Time and Reader's Digest. Most are offered on a 14-day free trial basis.

Comments about The Economist online offers are fairly critical of the cost. As one person said:
Do they really expect consumers to ignore the fact that they have a much lower Cost-of-Sale when selling the digital version? It HAS to be cheaper. I'm not willing to feel like I've been suckered.
Another pointed out that Amazon takes 70% of the cover price:
I love my Kindle, I love The Economist, and I am a loyal Amazon shopper, but not at this price. I'll stick with the print edition.
Still another said:
As somebody else said, I am not paying the same for the digital version as compared to the print version. I get pictures and other illustrations in full color in the print version. I also get actual paper. In the Kindle version I get none of those. Are amazon and economist trying to discourage me from buying the Kindle version. Reduce the price by 50% and I am willing to buy.

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Enmeshed magazine part of campaign to save leatherback sea turtle

A magazine comes encased in a fishing net as part of an innovative direct mail campaign trying to save the critically endangered leatherback sea turtle. Marketing magazine reports that the campaign by the Canadian Sea Turtle Network was designed by ad agency Target Marketing and Communications in St. John's and coincided with a National Geographic article in its May 2009 issue, covering CSTN's efforts to save the species.

Each mailer included a copy of the magazine encased in a real, green fisherman’s net, said Noel O’Dea, Target’s president and director of strategic and creative planning.

A personalized handwritten note from Kathleen Martin, executive director, Canadian Sea Turtle Network (and former Marketing correspondent) was placed under the net, with a CSTN business card marking the article.

Recipients had to cut the net to read the magazine and the note.

The piece was sent across North America to key bloggers and journalists with environmental and conservation backgrounds that the agency felt had the “best influence with their audiences,” said O’Dea.

“We wanted to differentiate it from everything else that landed in their ‘in’ tray,” he said. “It’s differentiated in every way, not only their shape, size and weight, but they actually have to free the magazine, which is relevant with what the CSTN is working to do.”


NUJ slams many internships as "bogus"
free labour

The general secretary of the National Union of Journalists in Britain has slammed "bogus work experience" placements for exploiting aspiring journalists as free labour.

According to a story in Press Gazette, Jeremy Dear said too many employers used internships as a way of getting work done for free and welcomed new government plans to improve internship standards.

Dear’s comments follow the publication of the government’s Unleashing Aspirations report on equality which highlighted internships as one of the ways hopefuls from poorer backgrounds were excluded from entering professions such as journalism.

In a letter to the Guardian, Dear said: “While on-the-job work experience is an essential part of media training, bogus work experience placements are increasingly being used to fill long-term staffing gaps with free labour.”

This resulted, Dear said, in only those with the financial security of well-off families or a willingness to build up massive debts can get into careers in journalism.

“Just when we should be nurturing and supporting the people coming into the industry, media employers are exploiting dreams and excluding new talent.”

He added: “By ordering proper enforcement of the minimum wage in the media, it could help make our industry a far fairer place.”

The Aspirations report recommended establishing a code of best practice and an award scheme to create a universal high standard for internships. In testimony before the Panel on Fair Access to Professions, the NUJ said research had shown that over 3/4 of internships were unpaid and a quarter of the 640 graduates surveyed said the organizations they worked for could not function normally without interns.

A 2002 poll revealed that under 10 per cent of new entrants to journalism came from a working class background and just three per cent came from homes headed by semi-skilled or unskilled workers.

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Transcontinental Media said to be prepared to modify controversial freelance contract

Although the other side hasn't been heard from, Masthead reports that Transcontinental Media is prepared to modify or renegotiate its contentious "master" agreement for freelancers. Derek Finkle of the Canadian Writers' Group (CWG), who attended a meeting with senior executives at Transcontinental, said:
“We’ve had a closed door discussion in good faith with them, but I don’t mind saying on the record that they have offered to make changes to their new master agreement.”
Related post:

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Quebecor World becomes World Color Press as it emerges from bankruptcy

Quebecor World is to be renamed World Color Press as it is officially emerges from bankruptcy protection. The name change for the huge printer (it had been considering Novink as its new handle) brings the company around almost full circle; World Color was the major printing asset absorbed by Quebecor Inc. and merged with its subsidiary, Quebecor Printing, that resulted in Quebecor World becoming the largest printer in the world. The company said that it would roll out a new branding campaign within 60 days.

According to a story in Folio:
As part of its plans of reorganization, Quebecor World closed on $800 million in exit and drew approximately $540 million to repay its debtor-in-possession credit facility. The company’s previously issued and outstanding multiple voting shares, redeemable first preferred shares and subordinate voting shares were effectively canceled.
According to president and CEO Jacques Mallette, the restructuring and reorganizing process “has made us financially healthier and allowed us to start fresh with a strong balance sheet and a leaner cost structure. We believe the company is now better positioned to meet the present and future competition in the industry and to create value for our stakeholders.”
Quebecor World in June rejected a series of unsolicited offers from competitor R. R. Donnelley to purchase it, ostensibly because the board felt there would be antitrust implications from such a consolidation.

Related recent posts:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Magazine world view

New publisher named at Calgary
fly fishing magazine

Jennifer Bird has been named publisher of Fly Fusion magazine of Calgary, one of North America's leading fly fishing publications. She is also in charge of Fusion Books. The quarterly magazine, published by Bird Marketing Group, distributes 24,000 copies through a network of 200 specialty fly shops, wholesalers, distributors and retailers as well as by subscription.

Chris Bird, who was publisher, has now been named group publisher and will be taking charge of other media properties, including Fly Fishing Events (Western Canadian Fly Fishing Exposition) and Broken Tippet Forum.


Web addresses in magazine ads drive traffic to advertisers

Putting web addresses (urls) in magazine ads makes it more likely that readers will go to advertiser websites, according to new research from Affinity reported by Media Post's Center for Media Research. Based on an analysis of 833 ads in seven different magazines in six different genres, the research reinforces earlier work that showed that, among other media, magazines are most effective building traffic to advertisers' websites.

The Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) have compiled 3rd party surveys from various sources and concluded that
  • Offline media perform well in driving web traffic and search, often better than online media, even when URL addresses are missing or not prominently displayed in offline ads
  • Media synergy is important, though each medium influences online behavior differently and plays a distinctive role
  • Looking at qualified search, those consumers ready to make a purchase, paints a different picture of media usage than total search, which is most often the focus of advertisers
  • When looking at the role individual media play in driving web results, magazines most consistently drive web traffic and search

In addition, conclusions from quantitative analysis:

  • Magazine ads had a major impact on building web traffic
  • Magazine ads generated web traffic at each stage of the purchase funnel, especially purchase intent
  • Including a URL in magazine ads significantly increased web visits

Sports Illustrated magazine iPhone app delivers swimsuit models

[This item has been updated]It was inevitable; Sport Illustrated magazine now has an iPhone app that, for a $3 fee, gives users access to 20 models from the magazine's 2009 swimsuit issue, according to a story on Tech Crunch. Commenters almost immediately began to diss the idea, asking why someone would pay three bucks to get something they could get for free anywhere on the internet.

[Update: well, the commenters were well wide of the mark. According to a Time Inc. spokesperson quoted by Folio: magazine, the app shot to number six within hours, then went to number two, then hit number one by its first full day in the app store.]

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hurried public copyright consultations prepare for new bill in fall

A series of public consultations -- the first since 2001 -- on the shape of updated copyright legislation are being held this week and next across the country. The first round-table discussion was today (Monday) in Vancouver included academics and museum staff as well as representatives from the video game, software, television, music, movie and magazine industries, according to a story on

The next round table is in Calgary on Tuesday followed by others in Gatineau and Montreal next week. The consultations will run until Sept. 13. Some dates have not yet been finalized, the ministers said. There will be webcast town hall meetings from Toronto and Montreal.

Sessions will be posted as audio and video and an online discussion forum and Twitter site are being provided.
"We all know that new technologies are changing the landscape and that Canadian copyright laws need to be updated," said Heritage Minister James Moore in a statement on Monday in Vancouver.
Not only will such laws will affect the music people download and the TV shows they watch on devices such as laptops and smartphones, but also the materials used to educate children and expand our knowledge base, as well as how we value creativity, said Industry Minister Tony Clement.

He added in a statement that the consultations will help the government draft "new, flexible legislation" to help Canada "regain its place on the cutting edge of the digital economy."

The ministers were criticized at the media conference for not providing much information about the Vancouver round table ahead of time. However, they said everything is very new at the moment and more information will be forthcoming.

A previous copyright bill died on the order paper in 2008 when the federal election was called and Clement said that the technological landscape has already changed considerably since Bill C-61 was introduced. He said it seemed like public consultations were "generally something that people were perceived as wanting last time."

After these consultations, the Conservative government expects to introduce a new bill in the fall.


Quote, unquote: Vancouver's conflicted
food scene

"Nobody in this southwest Canadian metropolis ever speaks badly of ingredients, unless the stuff comes from somewhere else. Vancouver is the heartland of every admirable (and sometimes infuriating) food cause you’ve ever encountered-local, sustainable, organic, and eco-gastronomical among them. Fish is frozen at sea, residents are expected to frequent farmers’ markets, tourists are advised to dine on homegrown products, and everybody is made aware of the 100-mile diet, a kind of imaginary line that harvesters are expected not to cross."
-- From a commentary on the philosophical underpinnings of food and dining in Vancouver, by Allan Richman in the August 2009 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. [thanks to Amuse Bouche, the daily food blog for alerting us to this]


New sustainable homes magazine targets residential sector

Ottawa-based Janam Publications has launched SABHomes a companion magazine to its three-year-old Sustainable Architecture & Building Magazine (SABMag). According to a story in Masthead, the new title focuses on the residential sector and targets both trade professionals and homeowners. It was launched in June at the National Green Building Conference in Montreal

The original SABMag focuses on non-residential sustainable architecture for trade professionals.

Some 10,000 copies are mailed to builders, renovators and architects, though publisher Don Griffith says the plan is to get the magazine to newsstands as soon as possible. (Griffith was at one time the editor of Wood/le bois, later renamed Wood Design & Building, a magazine published by the Canadian Wood Council that served the manufactured wood construction industry.)


Muscle & Fitness bucks the gloom with robust page and revenue growth

Not all magazines or categories are hurting in this recession. According to a story in, Muscle & Fitness magazine, for body builders, has posted seven consecutive quarters of year-over-year growth in both pages and revenue. In the 2nd quarter of this year, its ad dollars grew 28% and pages 21%.

Muscle & Fitness
is published by Weider Publications, a subsidiary of American Media Inc. and part of its AMI Enthusiast Group, which bought Weider in 2003 and, with it, Muscle & Fitness, FLEX, Muscle and Fitness Hers and associated websites as well as the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition. All had been built up (if you'll excuse the pun) by Ben Weider and his family, originally of Montreal.

Apparently the reason for its success (despite declines for its sister publication Men's Fitness and other companies' similar titles such as Men's Health (Rodale), Men's Journal (Wenner Media) is that its major advertising segment is the growing sports nutrition industry.
The aggressive marketing campaigns favored by the companies behind sports drinks and dietary supplements, coupled with loyal and receptive customers (who are willing to fork over the $6.99 newsstand price), has infused the publication with rare strength.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Adventures in branding: Toronto Life Square
in receivership

It must have seemed a great promotional idea at the time (and, who knows, perhaps it still does.) St. Joseph Media obtained the naming rights to the mall at the northeast corner of Yonge and Dundas in Toronto and dubbed it Toronto Life Square after its flagship magazine. (Observers noted at the time that the neon-draped office-commercial complex wasn't exactly a square and that the branding was a sly way to suggest that the whole busy Yonge-Dundas Square across the way was also brought to you by Toronto Life.)

Now, according to a story in the Globe and Mail, creditors foreclosed on the property in April. The 13-floor, 75,000 square-foot tower sits above four levels of shopping, food courts and the AMC cinemas, which double as Ryerson classrooms in the daytime. It is owned by a subsidiary of PenEquity. Debts apparently total $280 million, including more than $120 million owed to the Royal Bank, more than $230 million to a Missouri-based company, Entertainment Properties Trust, $16 million to two pension funds and about $9.3 million in back taxes to the City of Toronto.

The Globe story pointed out the strangeness of the situation, since the building is 90% leased and the various clients in it seem to be doing quite well. There are 46 tenants, paying about $2 million a month in rent. That's what made the foreclosure such a surprise.

For now, Toronto Life is keeping mum and has been in arbitration with the developers for several months. The open question is whether the Toronto Life name will remain on the building when the dust settles.

Magazine world view

Friday, July 17, 2009

Transcon being pressed by industry reps to change proposed freelance contract

The contentious new "master" agreement that Transcontinental Media is attempting to force all freelance writers to sign has resulted in a meeting with Transcon senior executives. While the meeting itself did not resolve the issue, it may eventually lead to a reconsideration or renegotiation of the terms of the agreement.

Derek Finkle of the Canadian Writers Group, David Johnston, the executive director of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) and Derek's lawyer Iain McKinnon, met on July 16th with senior executives at Transcontinental Media to express the writing communities concerns and dismay regarding their new contract.

According to a bulletin sent to PWAC members:
The Transcontinental representatives asserted that the permanence of the agreement and the granting of copyright, albeit non-exclusive, would not have any impact on a writer's ability to earn a living. We, along with our legal representative, expressed strong disagreement. The Transcon VPs suggested this was an issue to be raised with their lawyers in Montreal. Derek and I, in consultation with Iain McKinnon and Michael Levine of Goodmans LP and Westwood Creative Artists will be attempting to renegotiate the terms of the agreement next week.
PWAC and Finkle's agency, the Canadian Writers Group, have gathered the support of the following agencies and organizations to encourage their writers not to sign Transcontinental's Master Agreement:
  • Canadian Freelance Union (CFU)
  • The Cooke Agency
  • Federation of BC Writers
  • Quebec Writers Federation
  • Saskatchewan Writers Guild
  • Westwood Creative Artists
  • Writers Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Writers Federation of New Brunswick
  • Writers Federation of Nova Scotia
  • Writers Union of Canada
Related posts:

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Canadian Freelance Union to hold inaugural meeting October 3

The quiescent Canadian Freelance Union is apparently rumbling to life. In a bulletin to members, interim president Michael OReilly says that the inaugural meeting of members will be held October 3, with a number of physical sites and electronic links for other places. A draft set of bylaws have been put together by members of the interim executive and interested CFU members and will soon be available via the CFU's online web forum for a full discussion and editing.

OReilly says that the new union has a 3-year commitment of funding and support from the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union.

He also announced that long-suffering charter members, some of whom signed up to show their interest as long as three years ago (the CFU was first announced in August 2005), will receive a discount on the first year of dues. Normal dues will be $125; charter members will pay $100 for the first year.

Among the member benefits detailed in the memo are:
  • A contract advice service to help members interpret and understand what they are signing.
  • A formal contract support to help members deal with disputes over payment, rights usage or other problems.
  • A "Red Flag" service to warn members about unscrupulous engagers.
  • A basic benefits plan (details to follow).
  • Access to full benefits packages at rates far lower than would normally be possible (leveraging linkages to the CEP)
  • A hiring hall which will link members to work, and work to members.
  • Use of the CFU bug (following our inaugural meeting).
  • The start of efforts to negotiate better freelance contracts from some of the country's largest publishers such as Quebecor, Transcontinental, Canwest, Rogers, etc.
  • A web forum (which at the time of writing had not posted the member bulletin
Related posts:


J-Source is seeking a new editor-in-chief

[This post has been updated] J-Source, the website for The Canadian Journalism Project, is seeking a new editor-in-chief as Ivor Shapiro, an associate professor at Ryerson University's School of Journalism and J-Source's founding editor, steps down. The new EIC will start in January.

The part-time job is said to involve about 10 hours a week (an estimate that most of us bloggers will look on with scepticism) would pay a maximum honourarium of $7,500 a year (it is new -- Shapiro did not receive it), provided by the Canadian Journalism Foundation. In fact, the project has so far been subsidized by Ryerson kicking free Shapiro to do the work (what is called a 'funded teaching release').

The job description is here.
"We call it a 'job description,' but the word job both overstates and understates the case." says Shapiro in a note on the site. "The post of EIC is, and will remain, a labour of love, demanding about 10 hours a week on average. As with the other editors and contributing editors, the EIC's work is an expression of commitment to the vision of a Web space offering news, commentary and help for journalists, and for those studying, teaching or following journalism in this country."
Shapiro will continue at Ryerson and remain involved with the Canadian Journalism Project as well as being chair of the ethics committee of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

Faith Today launches digital edition

Faith Today, the magazine of the Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Canada, is going digital. Its latest issue is online for free to all, but the digital edition and a two-year archive will only be available to paying subscribers. (A one-year print subscription is $24.15 and a single copy is $4.50.)

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Ad spenders showing more optimism
in spending plans

Could this be the bottom?

Marketers are more optimistic than their agencies, as pessimism gives way to optimism in the world of advertising, according to the latest bi-monthly Advertiser Optimism Report released this week by Advertiser Perceptions Inc. According to a story in MediaDaily News, plans are improving for every medium in the U.S. except for local newspapers, and that digital media such as online and mobile advertising are indexing well on the optimistic side of advertising spending plans. Magazine advertising status is still "pessimistic" but the trend is improving. The report is based on a survey of more than 200 media decision makers.

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Quote, unquote: the lure of substance

“I think our success is an indication that there’s a cultural shift toward substance that can benefit magazines that write substantively about the subjects shaping our lives and futures. Perhaps more importantly, it’s an indication that strong ideas can still find a market.”
-- Jay Lauf, publisher of The Atlantic, speculating about why the magazine's July-August "Ideas" issue increased revenue by 36% over last year, pullling in the most ad revenue of any issue in the magazine's history. Online, the associated special report boosted June ad sales by 8% and so far in July, by 50%.


"Work with me here" -- the real world of vendor-client relationships

For all of you who struggle with selling magazine ads, this will seem eerily familiar...
[hat tip to Ken McGoogan on the TFEW list]

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bonnie Fuller goes Hollywood, as EIC of celebrities website

Bonnie Fuller, the Canadian expat who made good in New York, has been quiet of late, after her ouster as queen of the tabloids.

When she was removed last May from her position as vice-president and chief editorial director of American Media Inc., which publishes Star, Shape, Men's Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, Natural Health, and The National Enquirer, it seemed that her meteoric career trajectory was taking a nosedive. She was shunted into a consulting job and the occasional blogging on the Huffington Post and not much has been heard since. She had said she was looking for backing for Bonnie Fuller Media and was going to start her own independent site. Clearly the search for funds didn't go well.

Now Fuller, who got her start as a fashion reporter at the Toronto Star and became the editor of Flare magazine then shot to prominence in New York heading up Women's Wear Daily, Glamour and then US Weekly, has resurfaced as the website editor-in-chief and president of Hollywood Life, a Los Angeles-based celebrities site. According to a story in the New York Times,
The site is owned by Media Corporation, which was founded by Jay Penske, the youngest son of famed auto racer and automotive executive Roger Penske. also owns and and made a splash last month when it announced it had purchased Deadline Hollywood Daily, the Los Angeles Web site run by Nikki Finke that covers the entertainment industry.
Not surprisingly, Fuller is going to shake things up and it looks like she'll spend most of her time in New York with occasional trips to Los Angeles. She told the Times that the site was going to be casting a wide net when it comes to celbrities:
“Celebrities come from such a much broader spectrum,” she said. “My audience is just as interested in Sarah Palin as they are in Miley Cyrus. We have a celebrity president and reality stars like Jon and Kate have been one of the most important stories of the year. It’s not just about movie stars anymore.”
[photo: Ruth Fremson, New York Times]

Paste readers care, they really care

The music magazine Paste was on its uppers two months ago and appealed to its readers for donations, lest it be necessary for it to close. Well, some 10,000 donations (!) later, it has raised $250,000. Editor-in-chief Josh Jackson says the campaign will wrap up this month. Donors receive exclusive tracks from artists including the Indigo Girls, Josh Rouse, Matthew Sweet and The Decemberists. Paste has a paid circulation of about 250,000.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chidley is special projects czar for Maclean's & Canadian Business

[This post has been updated]Canadian Business editor Joe Chidley (right) has been appointed to the position of editor and associate publisher, special projects unit, at Maclean's and Canadian Business magazines. The new position is effective immediately and Chidley will assume overall editorial responsibility for Maclean's university rankings and guide, as well as other important editorial projects at Maclean's and Canadian Business.

Steve Maich, the executive editor of Maclean's has been named editor and associate publisher of Canadian Business.

[Update: Not announced in the upbeat Rogers Publishing releases was the fact that at the same time the senior management changes were made, Canadian Business art director Tim Davin and Marc Reppin, the head of the CB website, were let go, [further update] as was Tony Keller, managing editor of special projects for Maclean's.]

Chidley, who pioneered the annual Canadian Business MBA guide and now will also oversee content for annual lists such as Canadian Business magazine's Investor 500 ranking and the Rich 100 ranking (colloquially called the "rich list" around CB).

Ken Whyte, the Vice-President and Publisher of Maclean's, Canadian Business, PROFIT, and MoneySense magazines, said in a release:
"I'm delighted Joe has accepted this promotion so that we can further employ his talents. In particular, his leadership will ensure the continued growth of Maclean's as the definitive Canadian voice on higher education."
"I'm looking forward to returning to Maclean's while still having the opportunity to continue working with my colleagues at Canadian Business," says Chidley. "Not only will I have the honour of shaping the voice of some of the most high-profile and respected education packages in the country, I'll be doing so at a publication where I spent the early years of my career in journalism."
In addition to publishing the very well-known and profitable university rankings and guidebook, Maclean's also unveiled its first-annual student survey issue in 2007 and the first professional schools issue last year. (The magazine also launched the OnCampus education channel at

Chidley's appointment and that of Maich follow some major changes at Rogers consumer publishing, including the departure of longtime Canadian Business and Profit publisher Deborah Rosser in favour of Whyte's appointment last month to run not only Maclean's but also the company's three business magazines. Now he has put in place two senior editorial people to take some of the publishing load.


The wayback machine

It has been a while since we cranked up the wayback machine. Here's what was happening a year or two ago in Canadian Magazines.

This time a year ago...
This time two years ago...


Sway launches paid national distribution on newsstands

Sway, a controlled quarterly magazine for the black community, is branching out from the greater Toronto area to be distributed nationally.

According to a story in Media in Canada, the magazine will now be available in all Chapters and Indigo stores. It will continue to be distributed free in most of the GTA, but a cover price of $4.95 will apply on the stands.

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Quote, unquote: the changing subsidy model for journalism

Journalism written for that fraction of the population that follows the news closely has always been subsidized. For the last century, newspaper journalism had direct subsidy from advertisement and cross-subsidy from sports fans and coupon clippers who never really cared about the city council or the coup in Madagascar. The packages containing news have been so bundled and cross-funded that we’ve never really known precisely the size of the audience for actual civic-minded reporting, or how much direct fees from that audience would amount to. We do know, however, that the rough answers are “Small” and “Not much,” answers that suggest radical transformation, now that the media environment in which those subsidies flourished is gone.
-- Clay Shirky, in a lead essay in the Cato Unbound blog, writing about how the future of journalism is bound up in the way journalism is subsidized.


Because they could...Wallpaper* prints white-on-white cover

Wallpaper magazine has produced a subscribers-only version of its current issue that has a white-on-white logo and a pictograph cover image or 'rebus' which paradoxically spells out "I hate design". According to a story in the Guardian, the only thing that distinguishes the type from the page is that the lettering has a lacquer finish, which makes them seem dove-grey when held in a certain light.

The cover is the work, or the inspiration, of design iconoclast Neville Brody and is one of a series of llimited-edition offerings the magazine makes to its subscribers. Brody explains his decision as follows:
"Firstly, as this is the subscription version, I thought that to re/overstate the name of the magazine was not necessary – the subscriber knows exactly what it is, and certainly shouldn't need to know any of the other details such as prices in other countries, or even in the UK as it is paid for under a different subscription price structure.

"The name already appears on the spine if anyone is still confused. We do tend to inform these days to the point of overkill. Pure marketing paranoia.

"Secondly, as an invited 'artist' I felt that the basis should be a blank canvas. The inside already states Wallpaper, so there shouldn't be a further need to respond to the masthead on the front cover.

"The third reason was one of attempting to match the message within the artwork I was working on by reducing clutter, making the point about the need for a quieter and less visually/textually polluted experience in our approach to communications."


Zoomer publishers to channel content to

Zoomer Media Limited, the publishers of Zoomer magazine have announced they are providing online content to the website, which has more than one million unique visitors and 30 million pages views a month across North America.

Zoomer's website will provide health, personal finance and lifestyle content to TMX, which operate various stock and bond markets, including the Toronto Stock Exchange, TSX Venture Exchange, Montreal Exchange., carries North American quotes, charts and news, plus current information on Canadian and US market indices and movers as well as various financial tools.

Waddya want? Subway fare?

  • Rogers Communications owns the Blue Jays baseball club as well as the majority of the magazines in Canada (counting consumer and trade titles).
  • The Blue Jays are the featured guests at a reunion of the 92/93 World Series-winning team as part of the Back2Back Weekend.
  • Presumably, as the owners, Rogers gets a bunch of tickets for the gala dinner at the Carlu for free.
  • It is offering two seats at its "premium table" to readers of its EverBetter website, aimed at people old enough to remember how long ago it was that the Jays were champs.
  • Hopefuls have to provide a "favourite Blue Jays memory", which becomes the property of Rogers.
  • The quality of the memory matters not; the two tickets are decided by a random draw.
  • And Rogers makes clear that the tickets are all the winners get: Rogers Publishing is only offering the tickets to the event. Travel and expenses to and from the event are not provided, and are the responsibility of the winner (boldface theirs)

Bridal blogger hopefuls compete for Weddingbells honeymoon trip

Weddingbells magazine (St. Joseph Media) is offering it readers who are in various stages of planning a 2010 wedding to compete for the right to blog for the magazine's website

Until September 4, contenders can enter in one of seven categories -- some of which are obvious (Traditional -- the traditional bells and whistles of a church ceremony, big party, sit-down dinner, toasts, dancing…the works) and others, not so much (Eco -- bringing environmental awareness to a wedding, a green bride will ensure the care of the planet is paramount).

Entrants submit a photo and a 250-word blog entry saying why they are a perfect Weddingbells blogger. The prize is, for the seven finalists, having their weddings featured on the website and becoming a blogger for 6 months. Then readers will vote for their favourite blogger. The winner will have her wedding featured in Weddingbells magazine and get a $5,000 week-long trip for two to the Mayan Riviera.