Monday, November 30, 2009

Style at Home editor Jane Francisco named editor of Chatelaine

Jane Francisco, the editor-in-chief of Style at Home magazine, has been named editor-in-chief of Chatelaine, replacing Maryam Sanati, dismissed last week. Francisco was only named editor of Transcon's Style at Home in June, succeed the founding editor  Gail Johnston Habs, who retired at the end of May. Francisco  had been editor-in-chief of Wish magazine, which was closed by St. Joseph Media in November 2008.
Francisco is not a stranger to Rogers, having previously been editor-in-chief of Glow, the beauty and health magazine published in collaboration with Shoppers Drug Mart.
In a Rogers release, Ken Whyte, the executive publisher of Chatelaine, said:
"Jane has a passion for journalism, a strong track record of success, and high-level experience with prominent Canadian magazine brands.She has an intuitive understanding of what Canadian women want, and we are confident she will serve Chatelaine's readers very well."


Advertisers and agency optimism returning to pre-recession levels, study says

A study of the long-term confidence of U.S.-based advertisers and ad agency buying executives says they have returned to a pre-recession level of optimism. All media have seen improvements.
According to a story in MediaDaily News,
The study[by Advertiser Perceptions Inc., a media research firm], which is based on an index of executives who plan to boost their ad spending over the next 12-months vs. those who plan to decrease it, currently stands at a positive difference of four percentage points, the highest level since the fall of 2007, when the index stood at positive eight percentage points.
There has been improvement for every medium tracked, although views of traditional media such as radio, magazines, national and local newspapers are still considered pessimistic. The positive index for all digital media (mobile, online) went from 40 percentage points in spring 2009 to 55% this fall.

Ad Optimism Is Improving For Most Media, High For Mobile/Online

Cable TV
Broadcast TV
National Newspapers
Local Newspapers


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Recession has hit the "written media" hard, says report on cultural sector

The average employment earnings of workers in the culture sector fell by 2.2 per cent in 2009 as the result of the recession, according to a new study released by the Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC). 
 "The global recession is expected to reduce revenues for cultural enterprises by approximately $3.1 billion in 2009".
Even as revenues are falling, the report says the number of self-employed workers in creative and artistic production occupations is expected to grow and, as a result, real employment earnings for workers in these occupations (including the self-employed and employees) are expected to fall by an average of 3.5 per cent. (Self-employment in the cultural sector is more than twice that in the general population.)
Of the nine cultural sectors looked at, written media (including magazines, newspapers and books) felt the hardest impact in terms of revenue, declining 6.1% in 2009, followed by 4.8% for broadcast media. Other items noted:
  • Revenue from endowments for all cultural sectors declined by an estimated 16%. 
  • The "gross domestic product" of the cultural sector was expected to lose about $2.2 billion in 2009.
  • Employment in the cultural sector was expected to decline 2.3% as the result of the recession
The report, "The Effect of the Global Economic Recession on Canada's Creative Economy in 2009", is funded by the Government of Canada's Sector Council Program and is the first in a series of three reports that the Conference Board of Canada is working on for CHRC, the other two being: a labour market information report for the cultural sector (to be released in December 2009); and an identification and analysis of human resource issues and trends in the cultural sector (to be released in June 2010).

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sanati out as editor of Chatelaine as part of latest Rogers management cuts

The most high-profile layoff in the latest round of Rogers cuts is the dismissal of Chatelaine editor Maryam Sanati, a highly respected journalist who was promoted from deputy editor in February 2008 after piloting the magazine through some difficult times in an acting capacity after the sudden departure of editor Sara Angel. Sanati presided over the relaunch and redesign of the magazine in time for its 80th anniversary in April '08. Her role at Chatelaine is being assumed by DianeDianne de Fenoyl who recently was named editorial director moving from being a managing editor at Maclean's.

As will be seen from the comments filed to the previous posting, many of the changes on the Rogers magazine side involve middle managers in trade publishing. In addition, the website for older Canadians, (ironically a finalist in the recent online publishing awards) is being discontinued.It was launched just in April this year by Rogers to compete directly with Zoomer Media's magazine and website in serving the 50+ market segment.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rogers lays off 900; no word yet on how many are in magazines

So far, we have no idea how many magazine jobs, if any, are part of the stunning 900 layoffs announced today by Rogers Communications Inc..

A Rogers spokesperson told CBC news that the cuts will be mainly executive and management staff and will represent about 3% of the total company work force of 30,000.

*If you're a Rogers employee and know some details on the breakdown of who's affected on the magazine side, click on the comment link below and let us know the specifics, anonymously. Or e-mail impresa[at]inforamp[dot]net.*

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Major shakeup at Transcon Media

Major and game-changing management changes are being made at Transcontinental Media, Canada's largest consumer magazine publisher, with this morning's announcement that Jacqueline Howe, vice president and group publisher English Canada consumer publications in Toronto, and Marilyn Kielly, director, finance, will be leaving the company as their positions have been eliminated. There is a major consolidation of all business management across the company, driven by Denis Aubin.

Howe in particular has been a key player in consumer publishing at Transcon ever since the takeover of Avid Media titles in 2004.

Caroline Andrews,group publisher, sports & entertainment/home & garden group, Lynn Chambers, group publisher, Canadian Living/Homemakers group, Pat Strangis, director of newsstand and Chris Purcell, vice president of consumer marketing will now report to Pierre Marcoux, senior vice-president and member of the controlling family of Transcontinental Inc. Rita Silvan, editor-in-chief of ELLE Canada, will report to Francine Tremblay, senior vice president, consumer publications - Montreal.

Aubin, in effect becomes the one, national business manager for the company's publishing operations. As director of business management for the business and consumer solutions group, he will be responsible for business and consumer publications in Toronto and Montreal while retaining his role as business manager for the western group. 

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

KRW trade magazine awards will go ahead in 2010

[This post has been updated]There will be an awards program for Canadian business-to-business and trade magazines in 2010.
The Kenneth R. Wilson Awards (KRWs), owned by Canadian Business Press CBP),  were not included in a recent announcement that its MagsU conference was being discontinued and that its professional development offerings would be done in partnership with the MagNet consortium. (There had been considerable concern about whether the b2b awards would be put on hiatus for a year or held at all, given that support for them had been in decline in recent years.)

Now it has been agreed by the CBP board to outsource the management of the awards to Gould & Associates; Barbara Gould manages the consumer-based National Magazine Awards program. The KRWs will be in the same week as the MagNet conference in June. Some of the larger b2b publishers say they will help support the awards program under this new arrangement.

[Update: A joint press release has now been published providing detail about the arrangement reported above. It says, in part:
The Canadian Business Press (CBP) and Magazines Canada will cooperate in managing the June 2010 Kenneth R. Wilson Awards, the associations have announced. The goal is to re-engineer the KRW awards as a national, bilingual and comprehensive celebration of the excellence in Canadian business to business publishing.

A governing committee with two co-chairs--one from Magazines Canada and one from the Canadian Business Press--will guide the KRW awards process. Co-chairs John Kerr of CBP and John Milne (Rogers) of Magazines Canada will assist the firm contracted to manage the awards, Barbara Gould & Associates. The co-chairs will be active in identifying and recruiting committee members who will focus on the best interests of the KRW awards as the Canadian magazine industry's premier celebration of excellence in the vital B2B sector. The committee will be comprised of leading members of the Canadian business media industry and will not necessarily be members of either the CBP or Magazines Canada.] 

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Big U.S. magazine companies to collaborate on digital publishing of their products

The largest U.S. magazine companies, which publish more than 50 of the best known magazines being published today are banding together to create a new company to publish digital editions of their products. According to a story in the New York Observer, Time Inc., Condé Nast and Hearst are expected to join the new company, to be headed on an interim basis by John Squires, executive vice-president at Time Inc.

The details are not yet known, but what is known is its purpose: to produce and market editions of all their magazines in as many forms as possible, including print, and for use on a whole range of digital devices, such as iPhones and Blackberry. The comparison with iTunes is unmistakeable.
Each magazine publisher now believes it’s too risky to go it alone to find new ways to get consumers to pay. If they all join together, the reasoning goes, they stand a better chance of producing greater revenue.

The deal is taking time to complete because it involves so many moving pieces.

“It’s pretty complicated stuff,” said a source. “The really, really hard part is that you’ve got so many different kinds of devices running on different operating systems. And how do you handle that? The consortium provides one point of contact for the consumer. When you come to the main store, you can get the content any way you want.”
It's interesting to see the big guys starting to play nice together, particularly in the face of brash startups, such as Maggwire

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Journey Prize goes to Victoria writer for piece in Vancouver Review

Victoria short-story writer Yasuko Thanh won the $10,000 Writers' Trust of Canada /McLelland & Stewart Journey Prize for the piece "Floating Like the Dead," published in Vancouver Review magazine. The award was announced on Tuesday in Toronto at the same time that Vancouver author Annabel Lyon won the $25,000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for her novel, The Golden Mean.
The awards recognize Canadian writers of exceptional talent for the year's best novel or short-story collection.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

PWAC hires former board member as new ED

The Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) has hired a former board member and treasurer of the organization as its new executive director. Sandy Crawley begins full-time in the position on January 4, 2010.

Crawley has been labour relations and professional development manager at the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres for the past two years and has served as ED for the Canadian Screen Training Centre in Ottawa and the national Documentary Organization of Canada. He was on the PWAC executive from fall 2005 to June 2009.

He replaces David Johnston, who was let go as ED in early October.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Quote, unquote: We got eyeballs, so what?

“As an industry we took a huge wrong turn. It was a new technology and we didn’t quite understand it. We had been told that if we got the eyeballs – in the usual digital dotcom jargon – the money would follow. Well, we got the eyeballs and the money hasn’t followed.”
-- Spectator publisher Andrew Neil, speaking to the Independent's Ian Burrell.
“The first truth that we have to come to terms with is that the existing model does not work and cannot continue. The internet is no longer a new media, it has matured and is well understood. It is a real world. So what are we doing in that real space? We are spending millions and millions providing fuel for somebody else’s engine – crazy!”
-- Mike Anderson, a former senior executive at both News Corp and Associated Newspapers
[thanks to Jon Slattery]


La Presse settles with three unions; one to go

La Presse has reached an agreement in principle with three unions, including editorial and newsroom staff, according to a story posted by CBC News. No details will be announced until the agreement is finalized. The Montreal newspaper threatened that it would close if its 8 unions didn't accept proposed cost cutting. With this latest settlement, only the union representing distribution workers has not come to terms.


Giving good job interviews: Ed2010 presents Toronto workshop on technique

Ed2010 is hosting a seminar on interview skills in Toronto this Thursday evening. There will be a panel discussion with Bonnie Munday of Best Health, Megan Griffith-Greene of Chatelaine and Jenny Pruegger of Transcontinental Media. Participants will then have an opportunity to try out their interview technique on one of the panelists. 

Cost is $25 and the event takes place Thursday, Novembe 26 6 - 8 p.m. at the Northern District Library . To register, email and specify which editor you would like a one-on-one chat with; Ed2010 will try to accommodate your request.

Ed2010 is a community of young magazine editors with chapters across North America.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Innovative application lets readers build their own newsletters

User-generated newsletters are an interesting development of probable interest to both consumer and b2b publishers. In effect, it takes personalization to a whole new level.

According to a posting on eMedia Vitals, the tech trade publisher IDG is about to launch TechDispenser, an application that enables users of its magazine websites to build custom newsletters based on the technology topics that interest them.  They can choose from 200 topics drawn from more than 700 sources. 

IDG estimates it gets 30% of its traffic on its major brand sites from newsletters.Not at all coincidently, this new venture provides the company with new names and contact information for its database. As Tom Pimental, director of product development says: 
“We’re a media company on the front end, but on the back end we’re a database company,” said Pimental. “That’s our most valuable asset.”


How after-deadline, after publication video augments Canadian Geographic story

Canadian Geographic managing editor Dan Rubinstein has told us of a video initiative that demonstrates how the web can really augment a print product after its deadline.
There’s an article about the re-introduction of the black-footed ferret, which was gone from the Canadian wild for 70 years and once thought to be globally extinct. The story’s final paragraph is about the Oct. 2 release of the ferrets in Saskatchewan’s Grasslands National Park — too late in magazine time for the story to include many details — but we’ve made a two and a half minute film using footage supplied by Parks Canada and a studio voice-over here in Ottawa that shows people what happened that day. I think it’s a perfect example of how the web can augment what print magazines do well.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Survey looks for interest in wheat sheet and other eco-papers

After its trial project last year with Canadian Geographic magazine, using paper containing surplus wheat straw, Canopy (formerly Markets Initiative), the organization campaigning for sustainable forestry practices is launching an online survey to find out how much appetite there is for such papers.
“This study is the first of its kind in North America. Up until now, information about the market viability of non-wood paper has been anecdotal”, says Neva Murtha, Second Harvest Campaigner with Canopy. “When done, we’ll be able to translate demands for eco-paper into initiatives that help make straw papers a North American reality.”
The survey is primarily aimed at large paper consumers, such as publishers, printers, office retailers, and will capture data such as demand tonnage, priority grades, and how participants would like to engage in further stages of nonwood paper development.

For more information on the Wheat Sheet, please visit:

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HOLMES magazine launches next week

HOLMES: The Magazine to Make it Right is being launched November 23. Published by Dauphin Media Group Limited, the magazine named after the muscular TV contractor, will cover home renovation, green building and new technology as well as highlighting tradespeople who do good work. 
Holmes will be signing copies of the launch issue on November 23 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., at the Gateway Store located in Toronto's Union Station.
"This is the magazine homeowners need to help them with their renovations," Holmes says in a release. "It's the magazine I was searching for and couldn't find. So, I had to make my own magazine, and Make it Right."
HOLMES will be available by single copies for $5.95 and by annual subscriptions (6x) for $23.50.
Dauphin Media also publishes Canadian Architecture & Design magazine.


Magazine world view: Biz Week -100; Media Week closes; Paying, or not paying

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Want to sell more at grocery checkouts? Stock lots of magazines

A study of store checkouts in the U.S. indicates strongly that magazines are an important part of the retail stores' product mix and sales.
Research firm Dechert-Hampe & Company found that magazines, confectionary and beverages make up the "power group" of checkout sales performers, accounting for some 81% of profits and 79% of sales. Retailers should devote at least 24% of their checkout space to magazines to maximize sales, it concluded.
The study was carried out over 6 months in 2008 in six, unnamed "leading retailers" who cooperated by providing barcode scanning and shopper card data. It was sponsored by Mars Inc., The Coca-Cola Company and Time-Warner Retails Sales & Marketing.
According to the results, magazine account for almost 25% of checkout dollar sales and the same for checkout profits.
The full study and an executive summary are available on the Magazine Publishers of America website.
(The results of the study are curiously at odds with developing industry practices. It says that more sales are made "over the belt" in regular checkouts, but fewer in self-checkouts; yet chains are moving aggressively to the latter. And a major retailer like Wal-Mart recently started moving magazine racks away from checkouts and towards the back of their stores and culling magazine titles to make their racks smaller.)

de Fenoyl moves from ME at Maclean's to editorial director at Chatelaine

Dianne de Fenoyl, managing editor at Maclean's since 2005, has been named editorial director of Chatelaine. de Fenoyl, has filled many roles in Canadian publishing, including Globe and Mail Review editor, executive editor of Saturday Night and life editor of the National Post.


Quebecor's Toronto magazine sales combined into cross-media team

Quebecor Media Inc. is combining its TVA Publications magazine sales team in Toronto with its other media sales operations -- Sun Media newspapers, and TVA broadcast. According to a story in Mastheadonline, it the company says it is not a cost-cutting measure. The new, combined 90-person sales operation will continue to be located in the Sun's building on King Street in Toronto and will be split into seven specialized groups: newspapers, magazines, broadcast, online, printing, distribution and books. Depending on how well the new  arrangement works in Toronto, similar consolidation would be considered in Quebec.
“Account executives will continue to serve clients' needs,” says [vice-president, national sales Phillipe] Guay. “But now will be able to draw upon expertise in every area of innovative and traditional advertising to deliver the best results on a case-by-case basis.”

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Tablets and paid subs are newspapers' future, says Murdoch; otherwise, they're doomed

About every week, the aging media tycoon Rupert Murdoch makes another pronouncement about the newspaper business. This time, in an interview on his own Fox network (reported in TechCrunch), he proclaimed that electronic tablets will be the salvation of newspapers and, without them, newspapers are doomed.

He was speaking about a plan to use Kindle (or similar) tablets and charging readers $15 to $19 a month for a subscription.
"We test marketed it and people I think understand it's perfectly fair that they are going to pay for it. If it doesn't, the newspapers will go out of business. All newspapers. There is just not enough advertising to go around for all the sites on the internet. The number of sites and availability of advertising on the internet, the availability doubles and triples every year but the amount of real money goes up 10% or 15% a year. The price of it keeps coming down."

Canadian Family magazine partners with grocery distributors for its food awards

St. Joseph Media's Canadian Family magazine is partnering with the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors’ (CCGD) in an advertising program to help promote new food products called the Canadian Family Food Awards, which are to be launched in April 2010.
The partnership integrates two national grocery programs – the Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards and the Canadian Family Food Awards, with cross promotion, logo integration and joint communication campaigns, [it was announced in a release].

“This partnership places the Canadian Family Food Awards in front of the grocery and foodservice industry, and positions the Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards front and centre with consumers,” said Carina Cassidy, Publisher, Canadian Family. “While we have been thrilled with the success of the Canadian Family Food Awards, we recognized that there was a larger opportunity to provide our readers with exposure to the best new products on the market.”

Chatelaine AD Williamson named editor-in-chief of Glow magazine

Cameron Williamson, the art director of Chatelaine, is to be named editor in chief of Glow magazine effective November 30. This is unusual. Except in instances when they start a magazine themselves, it is quite rare for the career path of an art director to lead to becoming editor-in-chief.
Williamson joined Chatelaine in September 2006 as art director; prior to joining Rogers, he was creative director at Toro magazine, fashion director at the National Post and fashion editor at Saturday Night where he began as an intern.
Glow is a hybrid health and beauty magazine; contract published on behalf of Shopper's Drug Mart and circulated to holders of the drugstore chain's Optimum card, yet distributed on a paid basis on consumer newsstands. It has a total PMB-measured readership of 947,000, almost all of them women.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Getting the picture: CSME presents veteran photographer Peter Bregg

The ability of photography to turn a good story into a great one is the subject of the final Canadian Society of Magazines Editors (CSME) luncheon in Toronto on  November 26 at the Arts and Letters Club, 14 Elm Street (Yonge and Dundas subway station). Presenter will be veteran photojournalist Peter Bregg (Maclean's, Hello!). $30 for members, $50 for non-members.  RSVP to
[Detail of photo by Peter Bregg]


Monday, November 16, 2009

Showing what print can do

Inspired by a magazine that published briefly almost 60 years ago, a first-time editor and publisher has launched a lavish print magazine called Vintage Magazine. According to a story in Folio:, Ivy Baer Sherman is celebrating "classic culture and the pleasures of print" with the privately financed, twice-yearly publication.
The premiere issue covers art, music, fashion, food and travel and features pages cut to resemble album covers, a flipbook-style pictorial history of hairstyles through the years and fold-out photos and mixes fonts, textures, photos and illustrations. Its inspiration is the magazine Flair that was published in 1950-51.

The first issue of Vintage has no advertising and a single copy costs $20 (a two-issue sub costs $32, a two-year, four issue sub $60).
Why did Sherman produce such an extravagant print product when the print magazine industry is in such a state of turmoil? “My tendency is to step toward a problem in order to assess and assist,” Sherman said. “In the case of print magazines, I find this a particularly exciting time; all eyes are focused on the medium. What better time to make a statement? It is time to show what print can do.”

Homemakers magazine pronounces relaunch/redesign a success

Homemakers magazine says in a release that its relaunch and repositioning in April has been a great success, even in the face of very difficult recessionary times.As part of a crowded women's service portfolio at Transcontinental Media (Canadian Living, Elle Canada, Homemaker's, More, Elle Canada), Homemakers was striving to distinguish itself by focussing on eating and living healthfully and well.
Publisher Lynn Chambers says “It was a bold move to relaunch during these turbulent times for media but we believed it was essential to connect with our readers, to deliver on their desire to “Eat Well, Live Well,” and to lay a foundation for a solid future for one of Transcontinental’s most trusted and popular brands.”
Among the indicators of success, the release reported:
• Newsstand sales, on average, up 30 per cent since relaunch compared with an industry downtrend of - 7 per cent.
The April issue sold nearly 70 per cent more copies on newsstands in 2009 over 2008; May sold 60 per cent more than in 2008.
• Advertising pages have improved 25 per cent compared to competitors, based on Leading National Advertisers data October 2009.
• Subscriber retention rates are up 12 per cent since the April relaunch issue & a new acquisition campaign is up over 100 per cent.
“Most importantly,” said Kathy Ullyott, editor-in-chief, “our readers are delighted with the new Homemakers. Our refreshed commitment to giving Canadian women ideas and inspiration for healthy living has clearly hit a chord and filled a niche in the marketplace.”
Homemakers,was created 1966 by Comac Communications Limited as a controlled circulation national digest magazine which, at one time had 1.2 million delivered households. It was converted to paid and now has a circulation of 376,000 and PMB-measured readership of 1.56 million.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Controlled circulation TV

Michael Prentice, a columnist in the Ottawa Business Journal, draws an analogy with newspaper-carried controlled circulation magazines to illuminate the current confusing battle between TV networks and cable companies over who pays what to whom. (You will probably have seen the battling full-page newspaper ads and TV commercials that shed more heat than light.)

Prentice puts it succinctly that
"You end up paying CTV to deliver CTV's product to CTV's customers? Surely it should be the other way around?"
For years, TV companies were only too happy for cable companies to deliver their signals at no cost. More viewers meant higher advertising rates for the TV companies. They still do.
An example of how things usually work, only in the print realm: Ottawa Magazine, a glossy periodical, pays the Ottawa Citizen thousands per issue to distribute the magazine free with the newspaper. This represents added value for Citizen readers, for which the Citizen gets extra revenue. Yet Ottawa Magazine finds the cost worthwhile since it's cheaper than using Canada Post, says publisher Dianne Wing.

Can focussing on "lifetime value" of subscriptions save magazines?

Dependency on advertisers has for a longtime been the Achilles heel of magazine publishing, both consumer and b2b. As Howard Gossage, the iconoclastic commentator on advertising, said the readers lost control of their magazines the minute that publishers stopped raising the subscription price to cover the cost of production. As a result, advertisers inevitably have for a long times subsidized readers, calling the tune because they pay the piper.

A just-published study by the management consulting firm A T Kearney says that, as readership has declined, magazines should be rethinking the model whereby they have been focussed on the advertisers' needs while letting readers pay next to nothing for subscriptions. They suggest publishers can save their industry by pursuing a lifetime value model (LTV) and becoming less dependent on advertising.

The study mostly concentrates on the problems of sub-agents in the U.S. selling cut-price subscriptions in order to meet circulation targets whereas, in Canada, agency-sold subs are declining in importance and magazines don't guarantee rate bases. And the authors seems to think that publishers don't consider revenue sources such as brand extension, licensing and associated product sales. They do, plus how to do multi-platform selling and linking print and web publishing and deriving income from both. 

The study may be food for thought about seeking the maximum revenue from consumers rather than seeking readership at any price. I'd be interested to hear back from people out there who have a view about whether we can rebalance our publishing model to have the end user pay the freight.

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B2B association American Business Media reinvents itself

Networking and education are top priorities for a new strategic plan unveiled by American Business Media (ABM), the business-to-business magazine trade association. It is pursuing that, plus government policy and industry standards, research for member publishers and research to provide data for advertisers, according to a report in MediaDailyNews. It will also pursue new partnerships with other trade associations, more regional events, and new digital resources.
The two research initiatives will serve related functions. The first -- "research to know" -- will roll out new data-delivery tools to provide users with real-time business intelligence, including restructuring the Business Information Network reports. The second, "research to show," aims to provide publishers with data that demonstrates the effectiveness of B2B publications and digital assets as advertising platforms.


Playboy being pursued by two buyers

Two buyers are contending for Playboy magazine. Playboy Enterprises Inc., publishers of the iconic, but troubled, title is being pursued by Iconix Brand Group and a group of private investors led by Jim Griffiths, Playboy's former entertainment president, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times. The idea is to pay perhaps $300 million and take the company private.

From dominance in the men's market through the 60s and 70s, Playboy has been slipping, battered by ready availability of online soft and not-so-soft porn. Its stock fell to just above $1 a share last fall and the magazine recently reduced its guaranteed rate base to 1.5 million from 2.6 million. Christie Hefner, founder Hugh Hefner's daughter, left as CEO last spring.

News of the takeovers drove up Playboy stock 42% yesterday from $1.21 to $4 07. But the New York Post expressed scepticism that any deal is imminent:
One potential stumbling block is the whim of 83-year-old Hugh Hefner, who controls 70 percent of Playboy's stock.The legendary founder is looking for a premium as he tries to pay off debt and finance his lavish lifestyle while at the same time keeping his pioneering porn publication alive.

Newspapers, but not magazines exempted from Ontario HST

[This post has been updated] The announcement by the government of Ontario on Thursday that it would now exempt newspaper subscriptions from the new 13% harmonized sales tax (HST) means that magazines are alone among print publications will face an effective 8% increase in taxation come June 2010. Or, to put it another way, magazine buyers will pay 13% tax (5% GST + 8% PST, combined) while newspaper buyers will pay no tax at all. 
"We're just gobsmacked," Mark Jamison, chief executive officer of Magazines Canada told the Toronto Star. "I'm quite certain that we will lose magazines. This will be the last straw. This came as a total shock because we made the same economic and cultural arguments ... as newspapers."
This decision is both arbitrary and profoundly unfair as well as crassly political. Newspapers compete in the same marketplace in Ontario for subscription and advertising revenue, and magazines are suffering the same economic impacts from the recession as newspapers. This  seems to have made no difference. 

[Update: Premier Dalton McGuinty said today that there will be no more exemptions and that "we have all but nailed this down".]

The decision was designed to curry favour with the voters in the Tim Hortons across the country, freeing up their morning coffee and single copy newspaper purchases from tax. It will have much wider implications, since it apparently applies to home-delivered newspaper subscriptions as well. 

So we have the prospect of enormous chain monopolies such as CanWest, Quebecor and Torstar (who account for most of the daily and community newspapers in Canada) being given tax relief while magazines (some from large companies, but many, many of which are small, independents) are  hit hard. 

It only rubs salt in the wound that the spokesman for newspapers preened: "It's a really good example of government listening."

As far as we can see, it is selective listening at best. What possible justification can it be to exempt newspapers and not exempt magazines? Every publisher of every little magazine, large and small, needs to get on the phone right now to Queen's Park and their MPP and demand that this anomaly be made right.

Related posts:


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The wayback machine

From time to time we look back to see what was happening in the world of Canadian magazines. 

A year ago
Two years ago
Three years ago


Partnership on Munsch book nets $20,000 so far for charity

A little while ago, we posted here about an 8-year-old grade 4 student from Guelph who published a book called Braids by renowned children's author Robert Munsch, with all proceeds going to a charity on behalf of an orphans' home in Kenya. It was being marketed in partnership with New Internationalist, an independent magazine renowned for its campaigning stance on a range of world issues

Well, Taya Kendall's venture has, in five months, sold more than $20,000 worth of books and the first run is expected to top $35,000. A good story, for her, for the orphans and for the magazine that's helping her.

Magazine world view: Obama cover bump; Newsweek shrinks; trouble at Twitter; Conde's sales down; Playboy for sale?

Why I won't sign the Transcontinental contract, by Kim Pittaway

A post by Kim Pittaway on the site Bad Writing Contracts is both brave and thought-provoking, and by rights should provoke some reconsideration by Transcontinental Media about the master contract it is imposing on freelancers. It's headed "Why I won't sign the Transcontinental contract".
Pittaway, former editor-in-chief and managing editor of Chatelaine magazine and past president of the National Magazine Award Foundation, has been a frequent contributor to Transcon magazines. Here is what she says:
I’ve had great working relationships with editors at More and Homemaker’s, and know and respect many others who work for Transcontinental–which is why I was so deeply disappointed by this new contract, one which conveys a fundamental disrespect for the creators who contribute so much to the success of Transcon’s publications.
Why does this contract seem disrespectful to me?
  • Because it grabs a whole bundle of new rights with little or no additional fee. I know that print publications are struggling to find new revenue streams. I get that the media mix is shifting. And I’m eager to work with editors and publishers to find new ways to reach readers. But publishers already get a bargain on the print rights they purchase from copyright holders–those rates haven’t gone up in over 30 years. And to now say you’re taking a whole whack of new rights for the same bargain-basement rate is simply unfair. I own those rights on my work. And I choose not to sell them to you at that low rate.
  • Because it was imposed with no consultation with writers. One day, I had a great working relationship with my editors, was juggling three or four assignments, and all was right with the world. Oh–and I’d just garnered Transcon mags two National Magazine Award nominations. The next day, I was told that if I didn’t sign the contract as is, no changes, that I wouldn’t be working for them any longer.
  • Because it is a sign-once, live-with-it-forever contract. This contract applies to my work with Transcon in perpetuity and applies to all work for all Transcon properties. So Transcon is locking in the rights they want at a point when suppliers are vulnerable because of the current economic situation, and preventing writers from renegotiating the contract at any point in the future. Who in their right mind signs a contract that applies forever?
I’m mystified by this contract–perhaps because I have difficulty believing that the good folks I know at Transcon actually intended to send such a negative message with it. Maybe they’re getting bad legal advice. I hope that’s the reason. But even more than that, I hope we’re able to engage in a constructive conversation to change it. Because a bad contract is bad for writers, it’s tough on editors and it’s ultimately bad for magazines and their readers. And that’s a shame, for all of us.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mother Earth News pioneers paperless
mail renewals

Mother Earth News will be the first magazine to deliver paperless renewal notices to its subscribers via Zumbox, a Web-based platform that delivers paperless mail using U.S. street addresses, according to a story in Audience Development.
Subscribers to the sustainable lifestyle title will be given the option to receive their renewal notices as well as renew their subscriptions directly from their “Zumbox,” which is accessible via Unlike e-mail, there is a corresponding Zumbox—a digital mailbox—for every U.S. street address, which enables postal mail to be sent as digital files and received online with no paper or scanning. It also differs from e-mail because, according to the company, it is spam-free and publishers can use information they already have on file as opposed to having to collect e-mail addresses.

“In addition to clearly reducing environmental impact, Zumbox represents a powerful way for us to communicate with our subscribers,” Bryan Welch, publisher and editorial director, Mother Earth News, said in a statement. “Our audience has already started to embrace this paperless postal system, which could become another content distribution channel for us as well.”
Cost savings so far are negligible, since renewals are still being mailed conventionally, said production and circulation manager Bob Cucciniello. So far 120 subscribers have elected to receive the Zumbox renewal notices.
“Even if it doesn’t turn out to be a popular option for subscribers, it still represents another way that Mother Earth News is allowing its subscribers to become more green,” he said. “It allows them to take a more active role in the partnership for a better environment.”

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The long and winding masthead of The New Yorker

One of the (many) quirks of The New Yorker magazine is that it doesn't publish a masthead. The New York Observer has done its best to remedy that by assembling a list of its own, and it is (by today's standards) huge.
We assembled the list through interviews with staffers and contributors notes in back copies and online. Keep in mind that because of the unique, internal logic of the magazine, job titles are a strange thing—someone who may be a staff writer may have only contributed a single piece in the last few years.
Editor David Remnick makes no apologies:
“In order to do what we do, we need a sizable staff. We don’t publish 10 issues a year, or 12 issues a year. We publish 46.

“If The New Yorker is going to be worthy of the name and achieve a level of prose or accuracy or depth, or if it’s going to give the reporters or writers the time they need to achieve what I hope we can achieve, we can’t do it with a minuscule staff.”
You can say that again.

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Working at home is not perfect...and it's not easy

Freelance writer (and teacher) Diane Peters has a wise article in the December issue of Today's Parent magazine, setting the record straight for women who think working at home means they can make a decent living and keep everything spotless, including themselves. She addresses each of several illusions and starts off with a telling anecdote:
All I had to do was make one super-quick work-related phone call. Neither my husband nor my part-time sitter was around, so I gave my 10-month-old daughter a snack and a toy, and sat her on the floor of my home office. I dialed the number; I got my guy. While I asked him my one question, my daughter crawled under the desk and deftly snapped off my phone’s power bar.

This is what it’s really like to be a parent who works at home.


Neilsen said to be selling Mediaweek, Billboard, Adweek and The Hollywood Reporter

Neilsen Business Media is reportedly selling Mediaweek, Billboard, Brandweek, Adweek and The Holywood Reporter to News Communications Inc., according to a post on The Wrap. The papers -- part of a stable of 41 trade titles in the Neilsen business media division -- have been on the market since last year

News Communications Inc. is owned by James Finkelstein, who was the founder of the National Law Journal (later sold to American Lawyer Media Inc.)


What if Rupert Murdoch is right about Google?

For a man who doesn't use e-mail, or a computer, media magnate Rupert Murdoch sure gets a lot of attention paid to his musings and pronouncements about the online world. This week's statement that he is considering removing his Wall Street Journal, Barron's and other publications from Google, is no different. According to a post by blogger Sean Blanda, we should consider whether Murdoch may be right, rather than considering Google invincible.
"Even when he makes statements that seem to expose his one-dimensional knowledge of the online content world, publishers would be wise to sit up and listen when Murdoch exposes his strategy."
He agrees with Murdoch's contention that he'd rather have fewer customers who pay than a huge number of visitors who don't. As a measure of success, revenue is much more reliable than visits to an online site.

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Legion magazine launches postcard campaign to send messages to those serving in Afghanistan

Legion magazine launched a postcard-for-the-troops campaign last week, by which its readers can send messages to soldiers serving in Afghanistan. It includes three different cards, individually tipped on random newsstand copies of the November-December issue; subscribers get all three bound into their copies.