According to a story in the Edmonton Journal the reasons given by the arm's length jury was low quality of writing, poor production, design and layout and frequent typos -- all things that managing editor Diane Walton disputes. She says that On Spec has very few errors and the volunteer editorial staff selects only the highest quality content.
“We can’t understand what their criteria is. We just keep getting good stories as far as we’re concerned, but it’s not as far as they’re concerned. It’s so subjective.”Canada Council spokesperson Tara Lapointe, while not commenting on the specific application, said that On Spec had received notices twice before that "funding could be reduced or withdrawn" -- intended to encourage improvements.
Walton said the magazine is cutting costs that it hopes won't sacrifice quality; the worst case scenario is that it would turn itself into a digital magazine, though "print is our tradition". The withdrawal of funding has helped to rally the troops.
“We’re angry and we’re motivated now. It’s a kick in the teeth but it’s like, Hey! We can do this! We have to push forward. We’re getting a lot of moral support from the community.”