Friday, September 30, 2016

Rogers Media goes digital-first with a bang in its magazine division

[This post has been updated] In a digital-first bombshell, Rogers Media today announced major changes to its magazine publishing operations that will mix wholesale divestment of titles, getting out of the French language and business-to-business market altogether and shifting several well-known titles to digital only.

It will divest itself of ChâtelaineLOULOU, and L'actualité and all of its business-to-business titles. It is discontinuing print publication of FLARESportsnetMoneySense, and Canadian Business and making them available exclusively on the web and on apps beginning in January.

Magazines that will remain in print will do so with reduced frequency: Maclean's will appear monthly, Chatelaine and Today's Parent 6 times a year. 
"We are going where our audiences are, and doubling-down on digital to grow our consumer magazine brands," said Rick Brace, president, Rogers Media. "We have already made significant investments in creating content and making it available on digital platforms, including Texture, Sportsnet NOW, and Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE, and today's announcement builds on that."
Steve Maich, senior vice president of digital content & publishing, Rogers Media, said
"It's been clear for some time now that Canadians are moving from print to digital, and our job is to keep pace with the changes our audiences are demanding.  We are so much more than a collection of magazine brands, and we've seen rapid growth on our digital platforms over the past few years.  Now is the time for us to accelerate that shift." 
Rogers says it has committed more than $35 million in capital and marketing to create and promote digital content and transition the business to a digital-first infrastructure. 
The company's release said that it has a combined digital reach of 3.8 million Canadians a month for the first half of 2016, up 30% year over year.

Print subscribers will continue to receive their magazines until the end of the year and may choose to choose among several options thereafter, including receiving a full refund on their accounts.

There was no immediate information about staff attrition at the magazines that remain or are going digital only, nor any information about the employment impact on b2b and French language publishing staff. 

[Update] Among the b2b publications now on the block: The Medical Post, Marketing, Canadian Grocer,  Benefits Canada, Canadian Insurance Broker, Advisor's Edge, Avantages, Corporate Risk and Conseiller.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Long-form online magazine called The Deep planned for eastern Canada

An unusual collaborative venture based in Halifax intends to lead to the launch of an online magazine called The Deep, dedicated to long-form storytelling concentrating on eastern Canada. 

Depending on the success of a crowdfunding campaign in raising an initial $15,000, the startup will publish one major story a month. The hope is that the business model will eventually allow the publication to become self-sustaining through subscriptions, events and sponsorships. The project will be co-managed by Chelsea Murray of The Coast, the alt-weekly which will present it and provide startup support and by Matthew Halliday, formerly an editor with The Grid and Canadian Business
“With American startups like, The Atavist and others, the past few years have seen a resurgence of original, beautifully written, exciting long-form journalism online. And people are paying for it,” says Halliday in a release. “But the form barely exists in eastern Canada, despite a long literary and storytelling tradition. We want to revitalize long-form journalism in the Atlantic provinces, just as it's being revitalized elsewhere."
Murray said: 
"The Coast has been very successful making itself relevant to readers in this city, even as alt-weeklies close up shop elsewhere," says Murray. "And in part that's because even after 20 years they're still experimenting, which is more necessary than ever in this industry. This project fits right in with that attitude."
A kickoff for the project will be an event Tuesday, October 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Halifax's Timber Lounge where Chris de Waal, Stewart Legere, Lezlie Lowe, Alexander MacLeod, Valerie Mansour, Ceilidh Sutherland and Rebecca Thomas will be telling what are called "surprising-but-true tales".

John Fraser, former Saturday Night mag editor, to be in Canadian News Hall of Fame

John Fraser, the former editor of Saturday Night magazine and the winner of 11 National Magazine Awards, is to be inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame in November. He is to receive the honour along with Toronto Sun cartoonist Andy Donato. The Hall of Fame was founded by the Toronto Press Club in 1965 to honour individuals who made significant contribution to journalism in Canada.

Fraser has had a distinguished career in daily newspapers and magazines spanning more than 50 years. He is the author of 11 books and was both a university lecturer and the Master of Massey College.

He joined the Toronto Telegram in 1960 as a copy-boy, then moved to the Sherbrooke Daily Record and the St. John's Evening Telegram before rejoining the Tely in 1970. After a brief stint at the Toronto Sun, he joined the Globe and Mail in 1972 as a dance critic and later served as theatre critic, Beijing correspondent, Ottawa bureau chief, national columnist, national editor and European correspondent.

In 1987 he became editor of Saturday Night, one of Canada's oldest and most distinguished magazines, and in seven years increased the circulation from 130,000 to more than 500,000 and helped the magazine win the most awards of any Canadian publication.He subsequently wrote columns for the Toronto Star, the National Post, the Globe and Mail and Maclean's. He won three National Newspaper Awards and 11 National Magazine awards, and he is credited with saving and reviving the Southam Journalism Awards. Fraser was also pivotal in the launch of the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors (CSME).

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

140-year-old Presbyterian Record is to fold

The Presbyterian Record, which has been published since 1876 (140 years) faced with a continuing decline in revenue and circulation is to be discontinued effective with its December issue.
In a statement board chair Botond Fejes wrote: “Arriving at this conclusion has been a difficult process for the board. Its members have struggled with this responsibility for a considerable time. The continued publication of the Record, in its present configuration, was simply not sustainable … therefore, we are sadly constrained to allow this ebb in the fortunes of the Presbyterian Record to run its course.”
David Harris, the publisher and editor, said the magazine was not able to transition from a sub-based model to a magazine based on philanthropy, despite great support from donors.
“Our donors have been fantastic,” said Harris. “Over the past 12 years, they have given us almost $1.5 million. Without that support, the magazine would have folded years ago. Over the past 25 years, readership has been declining at an average rate of 2,000 subscribers a year, while the denomination itself—the magazine’s sole market—has been declining at a rate of about 2,800 members a year."
Publishing an online version is not practical, said Harris.
“Salaries, not printing and postage, are the biggest costs at a small magazine like the Record,” he said. “You need excellent staff whether a publication is online or print. And the Record could not expect to generate significant online revenue.”
The magazine posted a loss of $141,425 at the end of 2015 on a budget of $900.000, but the loss for 2016 is projected to be nearly a quarter of a million dollars. To carry on, it would have to raise an additional $75,000 this year and about $250,000 next.

In 1975, the magazine had a circulation of 88,000 but by 2000, it had fallen to 50,000 and is continuing to slide since to approximately 10,000 today. The Presbyterian Church has lost about a third of its members this century. In 2015 alone, 16 congregations were shuttered.

“Besides the fall in denominational numbers, the financial crisis of 2007-2008 was definitely a major factor,” said Harris. “Many—perhaps most—Presbyterians are on a fixed income. They saw their net worth fall, their pension income decline, and congregations needed their money just to keep up the buildings and ministers’ salaries. 
“The magazine became an expendable luxury under the circumstances.”


Friday, September 23, 2016

Tremonti talks interviewing skills for CSME event Oct. 5

The art of interviewing is the topic for the next event of the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors (CSME); ironically, a consummate interviewer -- Anna Maria Tremonti of CBC's The Current -- is also the interviewee.
"Tremonti is no stranger to tough questions. This time, she’s in the hot seat as we ask her how to combine preparation and spontaneity in an interview, how to dig deeper to get past on-message interviewees, and how to entertain and engage an audience."
The event starts 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 5 at L’Espresso Bar Mercurio, 321 Bloor St West, Toronto. $15 for members, $20 for non-members in advance (or $20 and $25 at the door) including appetizers and two drinks. 

[photo: CBC]


This magazine marks 50 years and looks forward to 50 more

Publisher Lisa Whittington-Hill
A good time was had by all at the celebration of the 50th anniversary (truly, 50!) of This Magazine held Thursday night in Toronto. 

Independent magazines have many challenges, but this one is surrounded by friends and volunteers that allows it to prevail in difficult times. It has provided the proving ground and launch pad (those are enough cliches, thank you: ed.) for many of Canada's best magazine journalists. 

Lisa Whittington-Hill (a veteran, at 12 years as publisher) didn't miss the opportunity to make a pitch for financial help to keep it going for another 50. 


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Canadian Magazine Awards unveiled by
Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada today held a brief press conference to announce the inception of the Canadian Magazine Awards, starting April 27 in Toronto in conjunction with the annual industry conference MagNet. 

The new awards were the outcome of an announcement last November by a group of large publishers that they were going to abandon the NMAs in favour of an awards program of their own, one that they felt better reflected publishing excellence as they perceived it. Ultimately,they turned responsibility for the design and launch of the new awards program over to the industry association, Magazines Canada. 

(No mention was made in the launch announcement of the National Magazine Awards or the Foundation which has run them for 40 years and which says it will carry on with it annual awards in spring 2017. )

Magazines Canada board chair Douglas Knight of St. Joseph Media emphasized the recognition of storytelling and multimedia:
"Canadian magazines have a special place in the hearts of Canadians. Showcasing many of Canada's best writers, designers and photographers, magazines engage Canadians with Canadian stories across virtually every platform, from beautiful tactile print to rich websites to social media in all forms. The Magazine Grands Prix will celebrate creative and journalistic excellence, honouring the editors and art directors, writers, photographers and illustrators, designers, developers and producers to bring the unique craft of magazine storytelling to life with each issue and every posting."
In addition to awards across a range of categories, there will be a paid fellowship program that will embed emerging talent with Canadian magazines across the country. At least in the first year, said Matthew Holmes, the president and CEO of Magazines Canada, there will be up to three such fellowships awards (depending on funding). 
"The goal of this exciting new program is to depend the conversation on issues that drive our country forward; fellowship themes will change each year, ranging from social issues, to the economy, to lifestyle and beyond. With Canada's 150th being celebrated in 2017, the new fellowship is designed to help the next generation of Canadian voices contribute to the national conversation."
The 26 proposed award categories, for which entrants must apply between December 12, 2016 and January 30, 2017, will be split equally, 13 for individuals and creators and 13 for creative editorial vision and execution. Awards are open to entries from any platform and extend to videography, motion graphics and multi-platform treatment. 

The top 2 awards will be the Editor Grand Prix, effectively editor of the year, and Magazine Grand Prix, magazine of the year. 

Entry fees will be $100 per entry and $50 per entry for small magazines with a circulation of less than 5,000.
Read more »

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ontario Arts Council will be launching new online application and management system in December

For literary and cultural magazines based in Ontario, there is a new online application and management system being launched by the Ontario Arts Council in December. The new system is called Nova and it will eventually eliminate much of the paperwork which has characterized the past OAC funding system. Most modifications will be implemented in funding rounds in 2017-18. Some 2017 program deadlines will have new deadline dates. 

The new application system is consistent with the new framework under four, already-announced, funding streams. 
"The OAC will launch a new website in mid-December to coincide with the shift to Nova," says an OAC release. "The website will be much easier to navigate than OAC’s current site – for example, you will soon be able to search for granting programs based on type of activity, priority group and more."
 Magazines receive either multi-year operating or annual operating funding and they are eligible for project support. In the most recent published results (2015) 31 publications received total support of $574,383.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

National Magazine Awards announces important changes to board and procedures

The National Magazine Awards Foundation has announced some important changes to its board and its process in preparation for its 40th anniversary year and for its recently inaugurated Digital Publishing awards. (The announcement comes in the same week when Magazines Canada is unveiling its own, contending, awards program.)

As reported here earlier, the NMAF initiatives include changes to judging procedures and an expansion of the board membership to include individuals drawn from the business community and sponsors. Among the changes agreed by the board the following were announced:
  • Refining the categories of the National Magazine Awards to a more focused number of awards;
  • A reformatted awards event to facilitate more conversation and networking;
  • Introducing a more rigorous definition and criteria of the Magazine of the Year award;
  • Expanding the Digital Publishing Awards;
  • A more streamlined judging process for assessing English and French submissions in the same category;
  • In a first for any Canadian publishing awards, raising the profile of Canadian creators on the international stage, by:
    • recognizing the excellence of Canadian contributors to international media, and
    • introducing judges from the international magazine community;
  • Enhancing the national footprint of the awards through more regional events and closer collaboration with regional institutions outside of Ontario;
  • Being more inclusive of the diversity in Canadian magazine and digital publishing.
Read more »

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Ironing out all the flubs seems unlikely, eh?

E-letters are a hot commodity these days, with many magazine publishers augmenting their content and reaching out for additional audience. Sometimes, however, they are presented as a mere variant on the magazine's table of contents or a compilation of other people's stuff. 

That's why I admire the Geist newsletter, which takes an original approach, particularly its "Advice for the Lit-Lorn", which gives free professional (and trenchant) advice to writers of fiction and non-fiction by Mary Schendlinger, senior editor of Geist for 25 years, and other members of the editorial staff. 
For instance, a query about whether there has been a decline of proofreading of books in the past 10 years got this bemused reply recently:
"Probably. We don’t have any proof, but we do know that book and periodical publishers have an increasingly tougher time making ends meet, and more resources have therefore shifted from editorial to marketing. Publishers and writers tend to be OK with this trade-off. An example: for the first couple of years of Geist, our business envelopes (remember envelopes?) bore a return address of “Vancvouver, B.C.,” but everyone knew what we meant, and we’d ordered 500 of them, and we chose to invest a bit more in a subscription drive than to order typo-free stationery. It would be grand to have the wherewithal to iron out every last flub in a publication, wouldn’t it? Then again, if we demanded perfection, no book or issue of Geist would ever be published, so . . ."


MagsBC panel on inclusivity in magazine publishing to be part of WORD festival

The Magazine Association of BC will be hosting a panel called during the forthcoming WORD Vancouver festival about inclusiveness in magazine publishing. It is part of a larger initiative being spearheaded by MagsBC board member Natasha Sanders-Kay, the managing editor of subTerrain magazine.
The initiative aims to encourage public discourse surrounding marginalized communities and to provide real working strategies  for(magazine publishers to support, engage with,and include these communities [said a release]. This panel is the first of a  series of public engagements that will be(continued at MagsBC’s annual professional development conference MagsWest, November 3-4,2016 at UBC RobsonSquare.  
Inclusive Magazine Publishing: Barriers and Strategies for Writers and Publishers” will be held at 3:40 p.m. on Sunday, September 25,2016, in The Lions tent outside the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch.
Broadcaster and(novelist Jen Sookfong Lee will moderate the panel, including
  • Jónína Kirton, writer and editor at Room magazine, coordinator of the first National Indigenous Writers Conference, and member of the Aboriginal Writers Collective,West Coast chapter;  
  • Chelene Knight,writer and managing editor at Room magazine;and 
  •  Elee Kraljii Gardiner, writer and editor at Poetry Is Dead magazine, director of Thursdays Writing Collective,and founding member of the Canadian Women in the Literary Arts.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Finalists announced for Canadian Online Publishing Awards

The finalists have been announced for the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAs). The awards program, managed by Mastheadonline, is now in its 8th year and the winners will be announced November 7 at an awards event held at the Carlu in Toronto.
"As part of the festivities this year, a State of Digital Seminar  will be held to have a look at the future roadmap for the industry in Canada, with an all-star speaker lineup representing key stakeholders in the industry for Ad tech, Publishing, Analytics and Advertisers," the  organizers said in a release. 
The wards cover all forms of media to recognize digital publishing excellence in Canada. Some finalists this year include Chez Soi, CPA Canada, CTV News Calgary, Hakai Magazine, KISS 92.5, Macleans, Planète F Magazine, Toronto Star, University Affairs, Vice News, Western Living and Winnipeg Free Press.

Complete list of finalists

OWL magazine launching digital current affairs magazine for readers 9 - 12

OWL magazine is launching a bi-weekly, current affairs digital magazine for readers 9 - 13. It is free to current subscribers of OWL. 
" Each issue of OWLconnected eMag will feature: news of the week, an in-depth story, an illustrated infographic, sports and entertainment stories, and an interactive quiz. A special section called "The Buzz" will present reader-generated content, and a 90-second animated video will appear in each issue that highlights an event, news story, or important person or historical figure. OWLconnected eMag will be published 26 times a year," the magazine said in a release.
The parent magazine, OWL, was founded in 1976 and is now published by Owlkids, a division of Bayard Canada. Other publications it offers are Chirp (for ages 3-6) and chickaDEE (ages 3 - 9). 
"As we celebrate our 40th Anniversary, we are thrilled to be launching a new and dynamic digital magazine for readers," shares Kendra Brown, Editor of OWL. "Our OWLconnected eMag is designed to open kids' eyes to the news and information from all around the globe in a fun and interactive way. Inspiring preteens is what OWL does best and we are proud to be adding this new publication to our library of offerings." 

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Magazines Canada is announcing new magazine awards program on Sept. 21

Further to a recent post, Magazines Canada is announcing/unveiling its plans for a new national magazine awards program at an event on Wednesday, September 21 at 10 a.m. at Toronto's Thompson Hotel, 550 Wellington Street W. 

The invitation reads:
"Join us for the intrigue, the excitement and the grand reveal of the bold, new awards program that celebrates the creators and brands of Canada's magazine media."


Thursday, September 08, 2016

Mag world view: Air China pulls an issue; MPA club for mag professionals; Seventeen goes bimonthly; Bonnier closes travel mags

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The thousand biggest U.S. newsstand titles saw 6.1% drop in sales in Q2 of 2016

The sales of single magazine copies in the U.S. proceeds apace, according to a story posted on MediaPost.
According to MagNet, in dollar terms, total magazine newsstand sales for the thousand biggest titles in the U.S. and Canada fell 6.1% from $571.2 million in the second quarter of 2015 to $536.3 million in the second quarter of 2016, while the number of units sold at newsstand tumbled 10.9% from 108.5 million to 96.6 million. 
For the year to date, total magazine sales fell 6.2% from $1.16 billion in the first half of 2015 to $1.09 billion in the first half of 2016. In terms of units, newsstand activity for the top thousand titles fell 10.8% from 220.4 million magazines sold to 196.7 million over the same period.
Weekly celebrity and women’s titles together dropped 14.3% in unit sales and 12% in dollar sales. Some categories -- in food and wine, games, puzzles and crosswords, recreation, lifestyle and science collectively saw total unit sales up 3% and dollar sales up 10%.

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Can the Canadian magazine industry resolve the developing struggle over awards?

Magazines are a seasonal business, in sales, in circulation awards. In Canada, there has been for 40 years National Magazine Awards and for even longer the Kenneth R. Wilson Awards for trade publishing. These have been augmented by various other ventures such as the editors' choice awards of the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors, the Canadian Online Publishing Awards, the Canadian Cover Awards and, more recently, the Digital Publishing Awards. It's a crowded ecosystem recognizing various aspects of the business, particularly as it has evolved beyond print-and-paper and increasingly into the digital realm. 
  1. The National Magazine Awards managed by the National Magazine Awards Foundation;
  2. The Digital Publishing Awards, launched by the National Magazine Awards Foundation in spring of this year;
  3. The Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAs), produced by Masthead Magazine;
  4. The Editors' Choice Awards, presented annually by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors (CSME);
  5. The Canadian Cover Awards,  presented jointly by Magazines Canada and CMC.
However this year there is likely to be a disturbance in the force, to use a Star Wars figure of speech. Last November, several big magazine publishers announced that they were going to abandon the NMAs in favour of an awards program of their own, one that they felt better reflected publishing excellence as they perceived it.  The signatories were  
  • Steve Maich, senior vice-president of publishing at Rogers Communications
  • Lucie Dumas, vice-president, managing director, magazines group, TVA Publications Inc.
  • Doug Knight, president of St. Joseph Media
  • Shelley Ambrose, publisher of The Walrus and executive director of The Walrus Foundation
  • Robert Goyette, vice-president and editor-in-chief of Reader's Digest
These bigger publishers said there needed to be "far fewer and more meaningful awards" and that they should be "more closely aligned to celebrating excellence at the very highest level".  Soon thereafter they approached Magazines Canada's board proposing that the association design and manage the awards program the big publishers envisioned. The Mags Canada board agreed and instructed its staff to make it so. It seems likely that these new awards will happen in conjunction with the MagNet conference in April. 

In the face of this,  the board of the National Magazine Awards Foundation has decided to carry on with the NMAs and the DPAs.  Even with the departure of the big publishers, the NMAs believes it will still represent 75% of the magazine industry in Canada. 

There are actually several awards programs in play at the moment. The NMA's digital publishing awards are similar to, but different from, the longer-standing Canadian Online Publishing Awards, produced by Masthead magazine. The Canadian Business Media Awards for trade publishers (KRWs) are in limbo since the announced merger of CBM and Magazines Canada. (The services of the NMA team that previously managed the KRWs/CBM concluded last month.) CSME is thought to be exploring the future of its Editors' Choice Awards. 
Read more »

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Friday, September 02, 2016

Speed up your sites, or else, Facebook tells publishers

Mag world view: Vogue doc fab; Wipeout on B2B street; new newsstand titles; Alexa, give me coverage