Friday, April 28, 2006

Blurb taken out of context, says Salutin

In his Globe and Mail column of today (published also on Rick Salutin takes a shot at Maclean's magazine for using, as part of a promotion, a single, out-of-context quote from something he said around the time of the magazine's redesign and relaunch. He offers to provide some alternate copy whose intent can't be misinterpreted: “Don't blame me if you subscribed to this mean-spirited exercise in contempt for readers and manipulation of news.”

Good news, sort of, sometimes

There was even some good news for magazine publishers at this week's conference of the Magazine Publishers of America, according to an article in Ad Age. Amidst all the 'digital sky is falling' stories of recent weeks and months, there were practical or at least do-able pieces of advice that was taken in by some of the biggest of wigs in the U.S. side of the industry. For instance, one piece of advice was that magazines need to plan for the day when the mass audience lives online but a smaller "class" audience covets your glossy, bound print edition.

(Presumably their covetousness will encourage them to pay the high price such a luxury item will command!?)

Rival medical journal may be launched

As anticipated, the members of the editorial board of the Canadian Medical Association Journal who resigned over the firing of the journal's two most senior editors are planning to launch an international journal of their own, according to a story in the Globe and Mail. Indications are it would be electronic.

Reader's Digest inks exclusive online sales deal

Reader's Digest has cut a deal to outsource the sales of advertising for its online offerings in Canada. Redux Media Inc. now has the exclusive rights to sell online advertising on Reader's Digest websites --, and (Reader's Digest retains the right to sell integrated ad packages that include print and online.

REDUX media Inc. is a Canadian based media representation firm, with offices in Toronto and Montreal, specializing in interactive advertising.

"We're confident that REDUX media brings all the right talent, skills and industry contacts to partner with us
as we grow our online sales," said Larry Thomas, Vice President, Advertising and Publisher of Reader's Digest Magazines (Canada) Limited.

"We are very excited to team up with Reader's Digest. This agreement
represents a tremendous opportunityfor REDUX media to increase its presence within the North American and International online advertising space. Partnering with Canada's most read, most trusted, magazine immediately strengthens our media offering and gives us more leverage to attract big brand advertisers and publishers alike," said Chris Patheiger, Director of Business Development at Redux.

Together, Reader's Digest and Sélection du Reader's Digest
magazines reach 8.5 million readers every month in Canada.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Two Canadian church magazines win awards

Two Canadian church magazines, including the United Church Observer and Glad Tidings, the magazine of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, won awards at the Associated Church Press (ACP) convention in Orlando, Florida. The awards were presented April 25. (The Anglican Journal, the publication of the Anglican Church of Canada, which calls itself a newspaper, won several awards in the same event.

The ACP awards are given annually to recognize professional excellence among about 200 member publications of what is the oldest religious press association in North America.

By the way, the United Church Observer is looking for an Editor/Publisher.

British mags propose to help small newsstand operators

The U.K. magazine distribution system is quite different from Canada's. For one thing, 85-90% of magazines are bought as single copies at newsttands and from corner newsagents (often on a "standing order" where the newsagent sets aside the magazines for pickup).

However, smaller newsagents are threatened by large supermarket chains, with huge newsstands. A new proposal has been put forward by Lord Heseltine, a former MP and cabinet minister, owner of Haymarket Publishing and the chair of a group of publishers fighting the Office of Fair Trading's own proposal to open up magazine distribution to more competition. (The OFT has apparently reversed course on this.)

Heseltine's group is suggesting that the industry should provide financial support in the form of an "administrative levy" to help smaller shops sell more of their magazines. It is reportedly backed by the Periodical Publishers' Association (the British equivalent of Magazines Canada).

In The Guardian on Monday, Heseltine said: "I was appalled by how bad the relationship was between publishers and newsagents. It didn't make any sense for the producers not to see eye-to-eye with the front end. Nobody benefits from inefficient distribution, least of all publishers."

The industry is reportedly considering spending £1m a year on distribution, a similar figure to that currently spent by newspaper publishers, or setting up an ombudsman to deal with complaints from retailers about distribution.

The British situation has resonance in Canada, where smaller newsstands suffer in the face of large chain bookstores and food stores. The common cause between independent Canadian magazines (of which there are almost 1,000 titles) and independent frontline sellers should be obvious. Whether an "equalization" scheme like Heseltine is suggesting would (or should) work here, who knows?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Search engine blues: damned if you do, damned if you don't

As they plunge into taking full advantage of the web, magazine publishers need to be careful about being taken advantage of BY the web, and specifically the search engines and aggregators. According to a report in Media Daily News, aggregators can strip-mine the unaware publications (much the way this blog does, I suppose).

A position paper from the Boston Consulting Group, "A Perspective on Online Search for the Magazine Industry,"previewed by MDN says online search represents a real paradox for magazine publishers. The paper was to be presented to a Magazine Publishers of America forum.

"Online search presents real opportunities and real potential threats for the magazine industry,." said the paper. Search engines open magazines "to a wide variety of new competition," including blogs and other user-generated content, and that search engines disintermediate traditional media companies by selling ads around other companies' content.

The chief danger of opening content to 'scraping' and aggregation is the value that would be lost as fewer readers visit magazines' proprietary Web sites or pick up print copies, the report added. But at the same time, the industry must strike a careful balance--as search is also a valuable means of drawing readers to proprietary Web sites; on this subject the consultancy also warns against the other extreme--creating "walled-in" consortia of online content that are totally closed to search--noting that similar efforts by the newspaper industry, like the New Century Network, have already failed.

Long haul or short, trucking prices going up

If you ship your magazines anywhere in Canada by truck, be prepared to pay more for it, says David Bradley, the CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance and President of the Ontario Trucking Association. He told the annual freight and distribution conference of the Book & Periodical Council* that there are a number of reasons why operating expenses and consequently prices are going up.
  • The major reason is the shortage of truck drivers, which is only going to get worse.Improved compensation for drivers will be a part of the long-term solution to the driver shortage, said Bradley. “Wages, which are a carrier’s number one cost component, are under upward pressure, but so are all of the other major cost components.”
  • Fuel costs are up over 25 per cent since the beginning of the year – and over 60 per cent in the past two years, Bradley said, adding the introduction of ultra low sulphur diesel fuel will likely add several more cents to the cost of fuel per litre and will have less energy content than existing diesel.
  • As well, the new, 2007 smog-free truck engines will enter the market this fall and are expected to cost up to $10,000 more to purchase as well as being more expensive to operate and maintain.
  • “And a lot of the costs and responsibilities for secure border crossings, which should be shared, are being placed on the backs of motor carriers,” said Bradley. “While the industry began to repair its balance sheets over the past couple of years, profit margins are not anywhere near thick enough to be able to absorb these kinds of cost increases.”

  • *The BPC is an umbrella organization of major Canadian and North American book and magazine publisher, distributor and wholesaler associations. Since 1982, BPC has had a Freight Plan for its members that negotiates freight rates and service, establishes benchmarks in pricing and value-added services, and disseminates useful industry information.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Rolling Stone 1,000th issue to have 3D cover

Lenticular imaging, or 3-D to you, will be used to produce the most expensive magazine cover in history, anywhere -- the 1,000th issue of Rolling Stone magazine; the anniversary issue is due to hit the newsstands in Canada and the United States on May 5.

It is reported that Wenner Media, the publisher, will be spending 10 times what a normal full-colour cover costs, but as Wil Dana, the managing editor said: "We wanted a 'wow' factor. It looks amazing."

The special cover is a montage similar to the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album and there are images of hundreds of pop culture luminaries since the late 1960s.
The magazine has been working on the idea for more than a year.

National Graphics printed 2 million cover images -- as well as 2 million for the back cover ad from Target Corp.--and then sent them to Inserts USA to be glued to the cover.

The lenticular image is actually a lens pasted onto another image. In the 1990s, National Graphics developed a lens thin enough to run through a standard printing press. The process has been patented and the company has other related patents pending.

Smells like spring

It's definitely awards season and Cosmetics magazine is celebrating the very best fragrance launches in Canada in 2005, at a gala event on Thursday, April 27th at Toronto's York Event Theatre. Cosmetics is published 6 times a year by Rogers Media and is the principal trade magazine for the cosmetics retail industry.

Rogers Media magazine ops have a profitable quarter

The Rogers Media division of Rogers Communications Inc., which consists of its magazine publishing and the Toronto Blue Jays, enjoyed a 9.5 per cent growth in the first quarter. Most growth came from the other operating divisions: 20.1 per cent growth at Rogers Wireless; 53.2 per cent at Rogers Cable and Telecom. The quarterly profit was a $60 million turnaround from a loss the same quarter a year ago.

Earnings for the quarter ended March 31 amounted to five cents a share, versus a loss of 17 cents per share a year ago. Operating revenue jumped 28 per cent to $2 billion from $1.58 billion.

Rogers Media's income from advertising and circulation totalled $641.2 million for the year ended December 31 (ads $503.9 million, circ and subs k$137,244). The division's media revenue (not including the Blue Jays baseball club) makes up about 8.5% of the total revenue for Rogers Communications Inc.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Kenneth R. Wilson finalists announced

The Kenneth R. Wilson Awards -- the top prizes for Canadian trade magazine journalism -- will be announced June 6 in conjunction with Magazines University and the top 10 finalists in each category have been announced by the Canadian Business Press.

Interestingly, one of the finalist publications is the embattled Canadian Medical Association Journal and one of the finalist individuals is its fired editor, Dr. John Hoey.

A two-bit magazine

In an act that smacks of something close to desperation, Torstar's Weekly Scoop will be selling this week to consumers for 25 cents instead of its regular cover price of $2.99. It returns to regular price next week.

"Readers who have read Weekly Scoop once tell us they love our celebrity news, style and entertainment coverage and they become repeat buyers," saidVivian Vassos, Editor-in-Chief, Weekly Scoop in a news release. "We look forward to providing more Canadians with access to Weekly Scoop and its unique celebrity content, Canadian fashion and beauty at this promotional price."

"This 25 cents issue is a popular industry tactic for new magazines that is designed to give people the opportunity to try the magazine at a low price," said Tracy Day, Director of Advertising.

What Day doesn't say is that usually such giveaway promotions are introductory, not made 5 months after launch.

And the pricing stunt is tacit admission that, in the crowded field of celebrity titles, the Scoop is falling flat. Not good news for the yet-to-be-published Rogers celebrity franchise Hello!

UPDATE: Of course there are other perspectives. Here is the item as reported by Strategy Magazine's Media in Canada newsletter:

Celeb mag category heats up; Weekly Scoop goes for a quarter

As Paris Hilton says: "It's hot." She might very well be speaking of the heat generated by the celebrity gossip magazine category. In Canada, Torstar's entry, Weekly Scoop, is on offer this week for a mere quarter -- a price point designed for mass consumption. "Celebrity gossip rags are doing very well in Canada. It's something new, something different for us here. In the U.S., it's just going nuts down there," says a Toronto-based media planning manager who asked not to be named. "Advertisers want Canadian players that we can put media dollars to. This [category] attracts a young demo, and it's weekly, so there's a frequency opportunity."

Shredding a few tears at Report on Business

By turns hilarious and tragic, this item from mastheadonline (subscription req'd) about the Globe and Mail's decision to shred, and reprint, the first issue of Report on [Small] Business magazine's first quarterly issue (200,000 copies!), all because of some pictures that the publisher, Phillip Crawley, thought were in "poor taste". New editor Neil Hulsman will doubtless be wondering why he moved across three time zones for this. See our earlier posting about Hulsman being lured away from B.C Business magazine. By the way, Masthead gives credit to Frank magazine for getting part of the story first (they said it was 5,000 copies).

We're doomed, I tell you, DOOMED!

This personal commentary, by George Simpson, from Media Daily News, seemed worth reprinting in its entirety:
The magazine industry seems to be rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Nina Link, who heads the Magazine Publishers of America, responded to Merrill Lynch's report that the Internet will take in more advertising dollars in 2006 than magazines will by saying, "The people who report on media like to think it's really significant. I don't." Let me see if I can sort this out. Benjamin Franklin's General Magazine, usually considered to be the first magazine published in the United States, appeared in 1741. It is difficult to nail down the start of the Internet (since the military had it under development in some form since 1957) but let's randomly agree on the start of the Web, as we have come to know it today, as 1994--when Pizza Hut offered pizza ordering on its Web page. That's a 253-year head start for magazines. Yet, in a 12-year blink of a timeline eye, the Internet will pull in more ad dollars than the glossies.

Bravado and spin-control aside, were I the head of the MPA, I'd be shitting a brick right about now.

This is not to say that magazines haven't already put some serious effort into their online plays. The ill-fated Pathfinder tried to give Time, Inc. pubs an online presence early on in the game as, more successfully, did Conde Nast's CondeNet, which used content from its titles to try and build communities around themes like travel and cooking.

Most publishers choked on the notion of giving away online what they were selling on the newsstand, and drove traffic away in massive numbers. Others used online as an "added value" to print buying, essentially giving away their inventory as a "negotiating" tactic to close offline deals. The net effect was to gravely devalue the online ad space. The magazine industry's blundering along to try and find a way to attract visitors to content no one wanted to pay for (and which couldn't yet be monetized, because advertisers were still largely sitting on the sidelines) only confused and pissed off the public--ESPECIALLY print subscribers, who felt betrayed by publishers they'd been paying renewals to for years and years.

Now print magazines find themselves in the same unfortunate transitional stage as newspapers. Readers are aging, and younger people won't read anything that can't be downloaded to an iPod or cut and pasted into a term paper. The offline content can't be searched, customized or pulled off a server story by story. Advertisers aren't sure who sees their ads--and if readers do, how they react--putting the dead-tree industry behind a massive accountability eight ball. No matter how many bodies are tossed into the moat below the castle walls of Time Warner, Hearst, Meredith or Hachette, print magazines are expensive to compile, produce, print and distribute. And when the advertising goes (with GM at the head of the retreat) you will see a blood-letting of titles unprecedented in American history. You don't need to be Jack Kliger to understand the savings of producing an online publication versus one that gets crammed into a mailbox every month.

All economic evidence to the contrary, there will still be those trying to make the "bathroom" or "engagement" arguments long after the ship has sailed. It is time for the magazine industry to realize the inevitability of online-delivered, customized publications--and to use the brand loyalty they still enjoy to transition their readers to electronic platforms.

Even the Titanic turned out to be sinkable.

Corporate Knights? Who?

The tidal wave of hype has died down around the apparently unaddressed question surrounding the choice and celebration last week of Brian Mulroney as the "greenest prime minister in Canadian history". The question is "Sez who?" The answer, apparently, is Corporate Knights magazine. And the response to that is, quite frankly, "who?"

Curiously this "Canadian magazine for responsible business" is not listed in Canadian Advertising Rates and Data (CARD), the industry bible that lists virtually every other magazine in the country.

The company's website tells us that the magazine's mission is to "humanize the marketplace" and "connect the dots between marketplace actions and social and environmental impacts." It also claims that it is "the world’s largest circulation magazine with an explicit focus on corporate responsibility" (note the qualification). There are also biographies of co-founder, editor and CEO Toby A. A. Heaps and his team and advisory board.

Corporate Knights
also publishes the annual Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada as a Globe and Mail insert, and the annual Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World, announced each year at the World Economic Forum in Davos. To do so, it has support from such government agencies as Industry Canada as well as from some of Canada's largest corporations.

The magazine is published 6 times a year to a controlled circulation of 95,500 per issue, 95% of it distributed to selected readers of the Globe and Mail (60% in Ontario, 15% in BC). According to the last audited circulation report (June 2005), there are no single copy sales, although the company claims to put 1,000 copies on newsstands. Another 5,000 go to "CEOs and leading Canadian executives, MPs and senior civil servants, MBA students at the country’s top schools".

If anyone out there knows more about this publication and its bona fides, click on "Comments" below and leave some information.

UPDATE: A quick search flushed out this quote from Mr. Heaps, from a posting on Antonia Zerbisias's blog: "Capitalism is about the best products and the best ideas winning. It's not about using monopoly and oligopoly and subversive pressure tactics. And when capitalism is practised that way, it gets a bad name. It would make Adam Smith roll in his grave."

Saturday, April 22, 2006

U of T president blunt about Maclean's survey

"If one of your hands is plunged in boiling water, while the other is frozen in a block of ice, then the average temperature of your two hands is just fine. That's exactly what happens when a range of data about a university are averaged into a single ranking."

University of Toronto president David Naylor pulled no punches in an article published in Saturday's Ottawa Citizen, defending the decision by his university and others to boycott Maclean's magazine's fall graduate survey. He said university leaders respect and support the magazine's annual spring rankings, but he dismissed the the methodology and the way the fall survey results are presented as part of a disturbing trend.

"These academic leaders respect Maclean's magazine's spring review of campuses and the readable compilation of a wide variety of performance indicators by the magazine, "Naylor said. "Many of us would happily collaborate with Maclean's if the spring format could be strengthened in some way, perhaps by grading different dimensions of a university's performance.

"But what is rapidly losing credibility is the Maclean's fall ritual of lumping a wide range of very different measures into a single set of rankings and proclaiming each year's "winners" and "losers."

"Here's the problem: Rankings and "league tables" are a good measure of success in things like sports and sales, where winning generally comes down to a single number. But no single measure can accurately reflect even a mid-sized university, where hundreds of professors and lecturers teach hundreds of courses across disciplines as varied as engineering and religion.

"Such concerns go well beyond Maclean's. They raise an important question for an era that is, rightly, concerned with measurement, accountability and transparency. But when does a metric become so oversimplified for the sake of newsworthiness that it is no longer worth using?

"My institution has found Maclean's useful for one thing only: marketing. None of us really believe that the ranking has much intellectual rigour. As academics we devote our careers to ensuring that people make important decisions on the basis of good data, analyzed with discipline. But Canadian universities have been complicit, en masse, in supporting a ranking system that has little scientific merit because it reduces everything to a meaningless, average score."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Magazines we like: WholeNote

Some magazines have a sense of mission about them and this certainly seems to be the case for WholeNote, a controlled circulation music magazine which has retained its homemade feel while growing to be a substantial presence in the market.

It's available in Toronto and in a surrounding arc roughly mirroring the Greater Toronto area, with an audited circulation of about 33,000 distributed in more than 1,200 locations. About 5,000 other copies are distributed free at music events.

For a controlled circulation magazine, reliable distribution is key and WholeNote has added its own particular wrinkle, essentially guaranteeing that within its circulation area, there will be a distribution point in every forward sortation area (FSA) , the first three letters of the postal code. If a reader spots an FSA where they're not, they'll establish a distribution point within four weeks or give the person a free, postal subscription.

The magazine has a fairly industrial strength and newspaperish design inside, but it is chockfull of information on all kinds of music. Its premium newsprint stock doesn't detract from the content and, in fact, adds to the magazine's friendly appeal. Well worth picking up.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Up close and participatory

Gosh, doesn't there seem to be a lot of hand-wringing and prognostication these days about the traditional and new media? Reminds me a little of the flurry about "convergence" a couple of years back (don't hear much about that, now).

Nevertheless, there are sometimes good sources for the discussion and the Economist is one of those. It has produced a special report that says we are already in an age of personal and participatory media.It points out that a lot of the assumptions about what would happen have turned out to be wrong (natch).

For instance, major corporations built huge "pipes" down which to push information and products from themselves and their partners, only to find that half the capacity is being taken up by information coming the other way, in the form of such things as blogs and chat.

"Even today, [these big guys] can barely conceive of a scenario in which users might put as much into the network as they take out, said the magazine's writer, Andreas Kluth.

These young writers today!!

Phil Hall, the editor of PR News in the US and managing editor of the Media Industry Newsletter (MIN), laments the fact that it's so hard to find good, young writers and he thinks he knows some reasons why:
1.There are very few contemporary journalism "stars" for tomorrow’s writers to look up to.

2. The average journalism student knows nothing about how the "bigger" world operates.

3. The Internet is crippling journalism.

4. There is no economic incentive because of inadequate starting salaries in journalism.

To read the whole column, go here.

Canadian Family now online

The re-launched Canadian Family magazine from St. Joseph is now online.

Here is a small story on the site launch, from Media in Canada.

Measures for measure

Being great exponents of the power of audience and readership, consumer magazine publishers may welcome the recent announcement that Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI) in the U.S. is testing whether the web can be used to see how quickly a magazine accumulates readers. This, according to a story in MediaPost. If successful, such a method could enable media planners and buyers to compare the reach and frequency of consumer magazines to those of media like TV and radio.

Mediamark said it will begin conducting weekly surveys with 2,500 individuals each week to determine if the Internet can be used to accurately measure
how quickly consumers read individual editions of magazines. As with the Print Measurement Bureau in Canada, they will be shown magazine covers along with those covers' issue dates and asked whether they had looked into or read those particular issues and be asked how they obtained the magazines and where they read them, along with demographic data.

Marketers and agencies could conceivably use this data to better calculate advertising return-on-investment and "to develop an understanding of the factors contributing to issue-to-issue audience variability," said a Mediamark release. MRI says it is not intended to displace or replace, but rather to augment, its standard face-to-face interviewing.

Recently MRI announced another initiative, MediaDay, which reinterviews respondents to determine what media they use and for which purpose throughout a typical day.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Uninspiring ad sales in first quarter

Magazine ad sales in the U.S -- both consumer and business-to-business -- have been lacklustre for the first quarter of 2006, according to recent releases. Read more about it at MediaPost or by going to the Publishers Information Bureau tab at the Magazine Publishers of America site. The ad results are consistent with (and perhaps the result of) the buzz in the ad world that internet advertising is in the ascendancy.

Through the first three months, consumer magazine ad pages are up just 0.4 percent vs. the same period in 2005. The lackluster consumer magazine stats follow an update Monday by American Business Media, which estimated that ad pages in business magazines declined 2.3 percent in February, after falling 1.8 percent in January.

We won't do it, so there

Four large Canadian universities have refused to take part in Maclean's magazine survey of graduates. This is not their larger, universities issue but an additional venture, part of a standalone issue focused on the undergraduate culture and experience on Canadian campuses.

The dissenters (University of Toronto,McMaster University, the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta) told Maclean's that they won't send the latest graduate survey to 4,000 randomly selected alumni at each university.

The presidents say they find the Maclean's performance system to be lacking: "We are troubled by the low response rates of past surveys. We have no reason to expect the matters will be different on this occasion. As well, we are not persuaded that Maclean's has the analytic capacity to make appropriate adjustments . . . to take into account differential response rates by institution and region or the difference in institutional profiles."

Could it be they don't like the results?

Read more, from the Globe and Mail story, here.

New columnist at Canadian Lawyer

Canadian Lawyer magazine has given a bully pulpit to Ezra Levant, publisher of the Western Standard, who will now be writing a regular column. His first topic: a lecture on liberalism and why it is so important. Go figure. And, of course, he uses the column to yet again put his own case concerning the so-called "Danish cartoons".

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My life sucks. Intermission. Your life sucks

(Off topic, but worth it.) This is what I suppose they mean by repurposing: at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, a theatre piece based on reading from blogs and letting the audience talk back. Good grief.

Elle Girl may not have been what it seemed

Interesting observations from Editor John Harrington in his newsletter The New Single Copy, (sub requ'd) about the decision by Hachette Filipacchi Media to close the apparently successful print edition of Elle Girl. In fact, says Harrington, a magazine which gave every sign of prospering and having a bright future may, in fact, have been bleeding dollars and not showing any signs of being profitable soon.

The magazine had newsstand sales up 22.5% over the previous year and ad pages up 46.1%. Yet CEO Jack Kliger opted to go completely online. Harrington noted a couple of things:
  • There may have been deep discounting off the printed ad rates, so those rising page counts might not have been matched by pocketable ad revenues.
  • Elle Girl reduced its cover price to $1.99 in 2005. The year before, when the price tag was $2.99 its sales were down by 12% over the previous year. "So while, in 2005, its unit sales improved by more than 20%, total retail dollars were up by just a single percentage point, which probably did not cover the inflationary increases in the costs of newsstand marketing."

Quote, unquote

"The people who report on media like to think it's really significant. I don't. It just says there are more opportunities to reach consumers and make powerful partnerships. The powerful brands and media are going to thrive."
-- Nina Link, president-CEO, Magazine Publishers of America, commenting in a story in Advertising Age on the Merrill Lynch prediction that internet ad spending will surpass magazine ad spending this year.
"The tectonic plates are moving beneath us."
-- Rob Gregory, group publisher at Dennis Publishing's Maxim, commenting on the same thing.

Perhaps they'll interview Ezra Levant

The Muslim Free Press, which claims to be fhe first national Islamic newspaper in Canada, went into circulation on Tuesday in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, according to a release from the Kuwait News Service. No circulation total was announced.

The fortnightly newspaper tackles a number of local and international issues as well as Islamic-oriented political and health matters,
with the aim of responding to the caricatures depicting Prophet Mohammad which had triggered a wide-scale controversy in the Arab and Muslim world during the past two months. (This includes reprinting of the cartoons by the Western Standard magazine.)

The passing of the Beaver hat

Canada's National History Society decided to hire from within , so the new editor of The Beaver is Doug Whiteway, who has been with the magazine as associate editor since the summer of 1998.

According to mastheadoneline, Whiteway was an arts reporter with the Winnipeg Free Press in the 1980s and has published a series of crime novels under the pseudonym C.C. Benison.

Whiteway succeeds Murdoch Davis who bailed from the editorship to accept an offer from Hollinger International to be publisher and editor of an Indiana newspaper (see that post).

Monday, April 17, 2006

Internet to pip magazines at the post?

According to Merrill Lynch, this year will see internet advertising surpassing magazine advertising for the first time, what Advertising Age calls "a seminal moment", but one which has magazine publishers scrambling to execute their own web plans.

Custom pubs take a big bite

According to research conducted for the industry lobby the Custom Publishing Council and Publications Management magazine, the average company spending on custom publications is now more than US$715,000 annually and more than 1 out of 5 dollars spent on marketing and communications goes on custom publications. The figures are based on 2003 data.
  • Larger companies (>$1 billion in revenues) spend an average of US$1.1 million annually on their custom publications; smaller companies about half that.
The Custom Publishing Council represents leading custom publishers in North America, including Canada's largest such firm, Redwood Custom Communcations which publishes magazines on behalf of Kraft Foods (What's Cooking/Food & Family) and the Canadian Autombile Association (Leisureways). Publications Management is a trade magazine serving the custom publishing industry.

Pounding away at the gun culture

Editors of Pound, a Toronto-based hip-hop magazine are poised to publish a book about gun culture, according to an article in the Toronto Star. Rodrigo Bascunan, the 30-year-old founder and publisher and Christian Pearce, a senior editor at the publication, have just completed Enter the Babylon System, Unpacking Gun Culture from Samuel Colt to 50 Cent.

Babylon is a term used in reggae and hip-hop slang as a synonym for a corrupt place — although it is sometimes used to refer to white society. Bascunan and Pearce interviewed more than 100 rappers worldwide for the book, to be published by Random House of Canada, talking about the role guns played in their lives.

Some of the interviews were published in the magazine last August and are still available online.

It must be the rubber chicken

Atlantic Business magazine recently polled its readers to see what they get out of belonging to business associations in the region and found that, as reported in its March-April issue, while most feel the hard returns are slim, they wouldn't hesistate to continue to belong to the local chamber of commerce or whatnot.

About half of the companies surveyed receive little to no new business as a result of their membership in business associations. Yet 92 per cent of respondents said they wouldn’t hesitate to rejoin.The telephone survey asked five members of each association to rank their membership on quality of networking opportunities, new business attributed to membership in this organization, and overall satisfaction with member-ship. Each survey respondent was then asked if he or she planned to renew the membership:

•50 per cent of respondents reported receiving little or no new business as a result of their association membership.

• 70 per cent reported being very satisfied with the return on investment for their membership fees.

• 92 per cent of respondents reported they wouldn’t hesitate to renew their membership.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Web boost for Times

For those who fear traditional media companies are toast because of new media, an interesting report:

Despite seeing a drop in profit of $35 million over all in the first quarter, the New York Times's web-related businesses increased by 72 per cent, compared with the same period last year. They accounted for about $62 million in revenue -- or 7.5% of the company's income. The total included income from internet sites for newspapers and TV stations the company owns, and various digital archives. Excluding, which the Times bought from Primedia last March, web-related business increase 23.9%, taking in about $18 million.

The fender bender business

Things you might not know, if you didn't read the trades: according to the current issue of Bodyshop magazine, the Canadian trade title for collision repair specialists, their readers are having to get used to the demands posed by the growing number of hybrid cars, with their sophisticated electronics and big batteries. They are also having to adapt to repairing cars that are a different shape from the traditional "sedan". And while new safety devices are making one-car "parking lot accidents" less frequent, there is apparently no end of work for these collision shops to do as there are more and more cars on the road.

Bodyshop is published by the Business Information Group, now owned by Glacier.

Glitter glut?

Variety, the entertainment industry bible, waded into the matter of celebrity magazines this week with a long piece called Glitter Glut:Flagging mags reflect public's celeb fatigue by Steven Zeitchik. It says that Bonnie Fuller of Star, and her ilk, may have killed off teen magazines like Elle Girl by having teens "trade up" to grownup celebrity books. But it all may be a bubble that's stretched to bursting.

[Memo to Rogers Media: are you ahead of the wave with Hello! or is your launch of the Canadian version about to be becalmed?]

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Quote, unquote

"There is a lot that the magazine does better, particularly for certain kinds of advertisers who are interested in visual display. Cars are sold that way. Fashion is sold that way. Soft drinks are sold that way. Most of our key categories are sold with visual imagery. Those people who need to get a lot of data to a consumer--like warranty information, or where it makes sense to offer an opportunity to choose different colors and styles of a particular product--the Web does that great. We are kind of seeing a fad kind of reaction right now. It will all balance out, and those magazines that figure out how to make their Web product good and how to make it relate back to what's on that magazine page will be very successful."

-- Jann Wenner, Publisher of Rolling Stone and US Weekly, quoted in the Wall Street Journal (courtesy of Media DailyNews)

Torstar muscles in

The Record newspaper based in Kitchener has launched a 15,000 controlled circulation business magazine called Rex. Not such an unusual event for the City Media Group of Torstar, which owns the Toronto Star, Record, Spectator, indeed the entire Golden Horseshoe of dailies around the western end of Lake Ontario. But this launch, like the launch of a lifestyle magazine in Hamilton, is somewhat different since it is predatory.

The products take on such longstanding titles as Hamilton magazine (owned now by Osprey) and, in the case of the Waterloo Region market, a long-established independent business magazine called Exchange, published by the Jon R Group. The flexing of Torstar's muscles in the markets that it dominates, seems to be calculated to drive out the established titles and give it a monopoly not only in newspapers but in glossy print. Fortunately, the magazines are somewhat banal and generally not very good,by and large. Perhaps readers won't be diverted. But it is hard in a low-margin business like a regional publication to stand up to the clout of a Torstar.

Atlantic Mags strut their stuff

Editor Gwen Smith will be the keynote speaker at the Celebration of Atlantic Canada Magazines to be held May 5 in Halifax. Smith is the former Editor-in-Chief of the late Elm Street and has now launched a new national magazine called Allergic Living. The event recognizes 75 magazines in the region, with a distribution of 7 million issues a year. Among the people telling their success stories will be Sheila-Blair Reid of Metro Guide, which produces 15 separate editions, Grant Young, publisher of the Downhomer magazine from St. John's, whose 40,000 paid circulation reaches Newfoundlanders around the world and Jim Gourlay of Dartmouth, the Co-Publisher of Saltscapes. To register for the magazine celebration call 902 425-4777 or email

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Time capsule

Speaking of Time (see below) how about those great guys at who have a banner on their website advertising Time at 78% off the cover price? Way to go, Mother Corp. Of course, it's only fair to say that the CBC would probably be happy to sell similar ads to Canadian titles.

Time; less cost, same revenue. Duh.

Sometimes we think newspaper reporters don't understand business at all. Hence the Toronto Star story about the laying off of the editorial staff of Time Canada, saying that the benefit will be to Maclean's and Rogers, its parent company. In fact, Time gets to keep its "Canadian" status and its Canadian advertising, but to cut the expense of providing Canadian content. How this is interpreted to give any advantage to Maclean's, which must produce a full editorial package, is a mystery. As magazine economics seems to be to newspaper reporters.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Magazine Death Pool

For some good, bitchy fun, we can't think of many blogs that have so much as Magazine Death Pool. Don't take our word for it. Click on over.

Geezer power

Gordon Pape, the last publisher of The Canadian Magazine (latterly called Today)from 1977 to 1982, when it folded, has made a lucrative career since as a financial pundit and mutual fund advisor. Now he is launching a web-based portal aimed at providing financial advice to what is euphemistically called "the mature market". Pape, who was a past chairman of the Magazine Association of Canada and president of the National Magazine Awards Foundation is launching Money. Read more about it here.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Time, the phantom edition

Rumour has it that Time Canada has decided to keep calling itself a Canadian edition, but to rely entirely on Canadian stringers rather than staff writers. Apparently, with the success of split runs like Sport Illustrated and People, maintaining a couple of editorial staffers is considered an unnecessary frill. This is the lamentable natural and logical outcome of the last decade of government policy, culminating in the capitulation of the Liberals with the so-called Canada-U.S. agreement on magazines. What is happening was made more or less inevitable by the legislation.

UPDATE: Here is more detail in a story in the Globe and Mail by James Adams.

QUESTION: On what possible basis can the "grandfathering" of Time be continued now for tax-deductibility?

Custom publishing for an ADD* world

The total market for custom publications--including business-to-business publications, magazine-style newsletters for Fortune 500 companies, in-flight magazines, and brand-centered travel, leisure, and health magazines--is topping $22 billion after several consecutive years of 15 percent growth, according to the Custom Publishing Council, quoted in Media Daily News.

According to Jane Ottenberg, co-founder and president of the custom publisher The Magazine Group, "engagement is key" to understanding the appeal of custom publications, because "we're an ADD* society where people are being inundated with messaging, and people want to choose when, where, and how they get that messaging. You've seen that with iPods and TiVo--and in a way, custom publications are providing that choice and control for magazines. On the one hand, people can choose when they want to read it, or even if they're going to read it--but by the same token, when they do, you can engage people with your brand for a longer period of time."

*(ADD = attention deficit disorder)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

China "licenses" no more foreign magazines

In a move that will irritate and frustrate North American and European publishers who could almost taste the opportunities there, China has imposed a moratorium on licensing new foreign magazines for publication. The term "licensing" is a misnomer, since what it really means is an enforced partnership between a Chinese company and a foreign firm; it is the only way any outside publishers could get a look into the market.

Now even that has stopped, at least temporarily. It may be a reaction to the suspension of the Chinese edition of Rolling Stone, published by Wenner Media LLC. The joint publishing venture in Shanghai for the U.S. music and pop culture magazine was ordered to dissolve last month by the Chinese authorities after it put out a single issue containing material the General Administration of Press and Publications found offensive.

Paradoxically, China says its move is part of an effort to help Chinese publishers expand their foreign sales. But it really allows Chinese publishers to continue to clone -- or rip off -- foreign publications without let or hindrance.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Time Canada Style and Design has designs for bigger things

Time Canada has quietly launched a spinoff product called Style and Design, which intends to tap into the lifestyle market (going up against some heavy hitters) and appealing to the tenderloin of its own circulation. It has started out with a 28-page "taster" edition in March, included inside the parent magazine. But in the fall, they hope to launch it as a standalone. According the Kris Menon, director of marketing, quoted in Media in Canada: "It will launch in September as a standalone going to our top subscribers only. Our hope is that it will launch in the middle of the Toronto International Film Festival."

Circulation of 90,000 will be made up of high income individual readers (income greater than $75,000) drawn from the Time audience and elsewhere. Included in that number will be controlled distribution through select Chanel stores (including a boutique inside Holt Renfrew), Audi dealerships and at the magazine's sponsored events throughout the year. There will be two editions in the first year, but likely more if the idea catches on.

The magazine is targetting 6 key sponsors and support from luxury brands in the categories that make sense such as apparel, jewelry and cosmetics. A full-page ad will go for $15,960.

Menon says the magazine is extending the Time brand beyond print to live, exclusive events. "We'll have celebrities [during film festival events] wearing jewelry [from our partners], or Audi as the official chauffeur for all our events. We want to build multiple touchpoints for our brand and partners." Time's Style & Design carries a full-page ad rate of $15,960.

Editor named for Rogers/Canada Post magazines

Nicole Labbe has been named Editor-in-Chief of the new home and shopping magazines to be published by Rogers in collaboration with Canada Post. Labbe has been an editor with Coup de Pouce, enRoute and Femme Plus and was recently at TVA Publications.   She recently created the first issue of SmartMoves/Déménageur magazine, Rogers' new custom publication for Canada Post, delivered to recent movers.

Both the French and English shopping magazines for the home are to launch in September 2006. Labbe will report to Kerry Mitchell, the Publisher of Chatelaine and Châtelaine and Vice-President, Rogers Consumer Publishing.

Quote, unquote

Maclean's Publisher and Editor Ken Whyte gave credit to his predecessors when he circulated a message last week along with the press release about the most recent results from the Print Measurement Bureau:
Just wanted you all to see the press release we sent out this afternoon on our latest readership numbers. It's very good news for us. We are back in front of Time magazine. We have about 40% more readers per issue than the Globe and Post combined. We're increasing in the right demographics as well. This is a credit to the good work of Paul Jones and Tony Wilson-Smith, and to all we've endeavored to build in the past year.

We're also on a nice run with our newsstand business. We finished the first quarter of 2006 ahead of Time magazine in HDS market share (27% to 24%. They beat us 33% to 18% in 2004 and 33% to 21% last year. HDS only represents about 20% of our total newsstand draw so we have to be careful about reading too much into these numbers but they are nonetheless a reasonably good indicator of newsstand health.

Congratulations, and thanks for all your wonderful work. kw

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CanWest Mediaworks experiencing significant losses for Dose and Metro

CanWest Mediaworks Limited Partnership,which publishes the company's daily and weekly newspapers, says that it expects to see the end of losses in for Dose and Metro sometime in 2008. Meanwhile, for the six months ended February 28, the losses for both are $5.1 million. A note in the financial statements suggests that the two properties' losses will eat up about $12.6 million in the year that will end in September '06. (No breakout is provided for "daily magazine" Dose, but it seems likely that the annualized losses for that property are about $5 million.)

Rogue sellers are sneaky and creative

Folio: magazine carries an interesting story about rogue subscription sellers. Among the points Bridget Wells makes is that, while such transients (who sell subs at unauthorized cut rates and then remit a tiny fraction to the publishers, who have to fulfill the subs at a loss) are relatively easy to find, by seeding lists and other devices, they are hard to shut down.

Wells, formerly Hearst’s director of partnership marketing, agency and ABC services, and currently managing member, The Subscription Source, says that there are thousands of sellers out there. Most are not directly authorized, and some do not work with an authorized clearing agent. Illegal agents often pick up and move their operations, whether a Web site or Post Office box, in the weeks that it takes to wait for an order to make its way through the system.

"One circulator at a major consumer magazine, who requested to remain an undisclosed source due to pending legal activity, recommends careful screening of list orders. Rogue agents have become particularly savvy in this area, often bold enough to assume the identity of a legitimate company to gain access to subscriber files.

"There are, however, red flags that pop up when fraudulent list orders come in. Illegal sellers, uninterested in mailing to anyone but magazine subscribers, have an inherent attraction to magazine lists. “I test every new mailer,” says the source. “The key is who is the mailer? What other lists are they renting? If they’re only renting publishing files, that’s a red flag.”

Customers will often recognize phony sub or renewal offers, especially when a legitimate renewal bill follows a phony one that the customer already paid, she said. "Make your fulfillment house and customer-service team aware that you’re interested in seeing any complaints linked to phony subscription-related mailings. Isolate these complaints and contact the customer directly to examine any previous or upcoming correspondence."

Renewal offers are where the real revenue impact is, says Dawn Russo, founder of consulting firm Subscription Integrity Services. “That’s where publishers are losing revenue,” she adds. “Agents are jumping on the renewals before the publishers are getting them.”

Taking legal action is the real issue. “Publishers are doing what they can do,” says Wells. “Tracking is not the problem. You have to take action. And that’s the problem. Publishers don’t have the wherewithal.” Action, according to Wells, goes beyond simply denying an agent your business. “Cutting off one rogue seller is like putting a band aid on a staph infection,” she says.

Peladeau rides to rescue Sun papers

In the elliptical way that press releases sometimes employ to obscure rather than illuminate, Quebecor Inc. has announced that Pierre Karl Peladeau has been named Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Quebecor Media, giving up his position as President and CEO of Quebecor World, the company's troubled printing operation. He is being replaced at Quebecor World by Wes Lucas.

This may be the case of dealing with the area of greatest need: Peladeau had seized the reins at Quebeor World because it was in serious trouble with a slump in sales and a real mess in Europe. It didn't appear that he had succeeded in this rescue, but now it seems he is more needed at the troubled Sun newspaper division, part of Quebecor Media. It would be interesting to know the inside story here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Boy titles on the block?

Felix Dennis is apparently on the prowl to sell his U.S. lad mag properties Maxim, Stuff and Blender, according to a story in Ad Age. He has retained an investment banking firm to shop it around.

"Dennis has a great track record of not waiting until it is too late to sell, which is the case with Maxim and Stuff," said Mark M. Edmiston, managing director, AdMedia Partners, an investment banking and advisory firm. "Blender is too soon, but no point in keeping that around if the others are sold."

Ad Age said "the lad category has cooled after several years of white-hot growth, and Maxim is now preparing for a redesign aimed at bringing in more mature readers and higher-end advertisers. Its ad pages fell 6.2% last year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Its newsstand sales have fallen from their heights, but its average paid circulation remains robust at 2.5 million, according to its latest statement to the Audit Bureau of Circulations."

"Mr. Dennis is not expected to sell The Week," the story said, "which has turned in rapid growth on a small base while much larger newsweeklies have stagnated."

New Ontario minister

Ontario's new Minister of Culture -- nominally responsible for magazine policy -- is Caroline DiCocco, the MPP for Sarnia-Lambton since 1999 and Premier Dalton McGuinty's parliamentary assistant. She replaces Madeleine Meilleur, who is now Minister of Community and Social Services, and Minister Responsible for Ontarians with Disabilities, and remains Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs. The shuffle was made necessary by the resignation of Education Minister Gerard Kennedy to run for the federal Liberal leadership.

In the Toronto Star, columnist Ian Urquhart commented:
Di Cocco is well-meaning but somewhat scatterbrained. Her qualifications for the culture portfolio? The press release announcing her appointment notes, among other things, that she used to be a member of the Sarnia-Lambton Folk Arts and Multicultural Council and she "has directed church choirs."
A friend in high places notes that this is the fifth minister in this position in six years! And that Culture does not have much in the way of mag policy/programs to administer directly.In fact,on any one issue the magazine industry deals with up to three groups at any one time and about magazine policy deals on a more or less continuous basis with:
The Ontario Media Development Corporation
The Ontario Arts Council
Economic Development and Training
Innovation and Research
Infrastructure Renewal
Management Board
Premier's office

If you're gonna squeeze the fruit, squeeze the coconuts

BBC News reports that the staff of a general store in the northeastern part of Tokyo were threatened with a chainsaw when they asked a 70-year-old man to stop reading magazines without buying them.

Murdoch Davis doffs his Beaver hat

Only 8 months after becoming Editor of The Beaver magazine, Murdoch Davis has jumped ship to become the publisher/editor of the Gary (Indiana) Post-Tribune, which is owned by Hollinger International Inc. (We reported his appointment at The Beaver last September.)

From 2003 until April 2005, when he was fired, Davis was publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press. Before that, he was vice-president of editorial for CanWest.

The Beaver is published in Winnipeg by Canada's National History Society.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Success is not enough

Today's lesson is that it is not always enough to be successful in this business. The announced demise of Elle Girl may give some pause to publishers on both sides of the border, particularly those who are aiming at the teen girl market.

Perhaps "demise" is too strong a word, since the brand is going to continue in an online form. But consider the metrics of this magazine, which in 5 years had grown to nearly 600,000 circulation. Ad pages increased 46.1% last year to 750 pages and its average paid circulation was up 17.9%.It was not enough for the owners, Hachette Filippachi.

"After running this magazine for the past five years and continually doing research on the teen market, [President and CEO]Jack [Kliger] is totally redefining the strategy," said Anne L. Janas, a Hachette spokeswoman. "The print magazine is closing down but there will be increased investment online and in wireless. He believes that's where he needs to direct the primary investment of the company."

Editor Christina Kelly had, since August 2005, introduced new, snappier cover design and introduced new topics (to be advertiser as much as reader-friendly). And,while keeping its core focus on fashion, she was faced with the paradox of being ideal for beauty products, but for the fact that most companies are pitching "anti-aging" formulations that are not of any interest to the smooth-faced audience (for whom wrinkles are unthinkably far in the future.)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Jessica Johnston now Editor at This Magazine

Jessica Johnston, a former copy editor and front-of-the-book editor for This Magazine, most recently managing editor at Corporate Knights, has been named Editor of This.

A small Dose for Vancouver readers

Dose, the "daily magazine" published by CanWest Global is at the back of the pack among people in Vancouver who read a newspaper yesterday, according to the just-released Fall 2005 NADbank study. It was reported in Media in Canada.

Even with three free dailies in the market being measured for the first time (Metro, 24 hours and Dose), the traditional dailies still led, with The Province at 27% and the Vancouver Sun at 27%.

Quebecor's 24 hours got 9%, National Post 7%, Metro 5%, Globe and Mail 5% and Dose 2%.

NADbank is the principal research arm of the Canadian daily newspapers industry. NADbank is comprised of dailies, ad agencies, media companies and advertisers.

Condé Nast gets it and starts investing in the web

Not to torture a metaphor, but the great liner Conde Nast has finally swung its bow around and is plunging into the web wave headfirst. An article in the New York Times relates how aggressive competition from other, more nimble bridal sites has caused the U.S.'s second-largest magazine publisher to smarten up and create a new, robust and feature-filled web portal. combines content from three different Condé Nast magazines and the company is preparing another site, for teenage girls. And its projected new business magazine, which is to begin publishing next year, will have a large Internet component with original content.

"These investments mark a new level of commitment to the Web by Condé Nast, the nation's second-biggest magazine publisher after the Time Inc. division of Time Warner, and reflect the new reality in the magazine industry: The Internet is an indispensable companion to print," says the Times article. It quotes Steven Newhouse, scion of the founder of Advance Publications and chairman of

"You gain a broader audience and more loyalty from your subscribers if you extend the experience into the Web."

Among the startling items in the Times story was that Self magazine last year sold 100,000 print subscriptions on the web, out of a total 1.4 million circulation.

As the dowager queens of publishing shrug into flirty skirts, get hip and get serious about the web, are there signs of similar movement in Canada?

Reinvention on the farm front

It's one thing to see the writing on the wall; it's quite another to do something about it. A little over a year ago Annex Publishing and Printing Inc. of Simcoe merged two long-established magazines -- Canadian Tobacco Grower and Cash Crop Farming, into Specialty Farms. It was an acknowledgement that the tobacco-growing industry, grown fat and sassy for many years on the sandy soils of the Lake Erie plain, was quietly collapsing. Anti-smoking initiatives and health concerns were taking away their best customers and smart farmers were looking for alternatives.

Specialty Farms spotlights the fact that, while tobacco farming is still around and written about, one is as likely to find articles about wind farming or tree planting. Sure, there's a cover story with news about the Ontario Flu-Cured Tobacco Marketing Board in the March issue (shown). But there's also articles of interest to ginseng growers. In the four counties of Norfolk,Brant, Elgin and Oxford, the magazine serves up seven issues annually to about 3,500 farms involved in traditional field crops, specialty crops, tobacco and fruit and vegetables. If you want to know more, they'll send you a sample issue.

Annex specializes in publishing small circ trade and farm magazines, ranging from Canadian Pizza and Canadian Vending to Greenhouse Canada and Baker's Journal. (We last wrote about them with an item about Canadian Pizza magazine.)

Monday, April 03, 2006

U.S. machinery? Not so much

According to a report in Machinery and Equipment MRO, the United States is still Canada's dominant export market, but imports now come less and less from the U.S. It is based on a Statistics Canada study covering the period from 1990 to 2005 which shows that the marked drop in the U.S. share of imports is unprecedented in the history of Canada-U.S. trade.The study was released in March 2006 in the Canadian Economic Observer, published by Statscan.

About 40% of Canada's imports in 2005 came from countries other than the United States and Japan, an increase of more than 10 percentage points from the 1990s. Apart from China, Korea, Europe, Mexico and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) profited from the lower share of imports from the United States and Japan to Canada in recent years.

Not surprisingly, the trade magazine was most interested in the fact that machinery and equipment, which is Canada's largest import group, was the most affected, with China and Mexico displacing U.S. products.

The United States accounted for about 54% of these imports in 2005, down from about 68% in 1990. Canada's imports of electrical and electronic products alone from the United States shrank by $10 billion between 2000 and 2005.

MRO is a trade magazine serving about 18,000 professionals in the machinery and utility industries. It is published by the Business Information Group. (MRO stands for "machinery, repair and operations").

The big muskie seal of approval

There is always insider stuff and textural detail in everything, even fishing for muskellunge (commonly called muskies). The agreed international rules and regulations for catching the big fish have been announced, backed up by a blue ribbon panel of judges that includes Gord Pyzer, Fishing Editor of Outdoor Canada. (Apparently Pyzer, who is retired from Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources isn't having a quiet retirement -- he is also Field Editor, In-Fisherman Magazine and co-host of The Real Fishing Radio Show, President, Canadian Angling Adventures Ltd.; Outdoor Editor/Columnist, The Kenora Daily Miner and News, The Fort Frances Times, Just Fishing and Grainews.)

The mess that was left behind

The current issue of the Legion magazine contains an article by Natalie Salat on a below-the-radar campaign to identify and clean up an unknown number of postwar chemical and biological weapons. This follows earlier reporting by the magazine on the Department of National Defence's Warfare Agent Disposal (WAD) Project to identify sites and set priorities for cleaning them up.

Legion's report celebrates the determined efforts of two concerned Cape Bretoners, antiques dealer Myles Kehoe and dentist Michael Ojoleck who have led agitation for government action. "Although Canadian government documents show that, in 1984, a review of CB weapons dumpsites by DND was undertaken," says the article,"those results were not made public. Nearly 20 years later, the department began its $11-million WAD Project."

"After World War II, thousands of tonnes of agents such as mustard gas, phosgene and lewisite were jettisoned on land or at sea by numerous countries, including Canada, the United States, Britain, Russia, Denmark and Germany," said the article. "Canada used to be one of the major producers of these weapons. While dumping of chemical and biological weapons at sea has been outlawed since the 1970s, untold quantities of hazardous materials remain on the sea floor."

There is a concern that the metal drums, bombs, depth charges and other containers in which these agents were stored are corroding, and that the leaked agents could cause considerable damage to humans and the environment. At the same time, pinpointing the locations of munitions dumps has been made more difficult by several factors. For one, the men tasked with postwar weapons disposal in some cases let go of their toxic cargo before reaching their intended destination--so documentation may be inaccurate. For another, official documents have been lost or destroyed. And finally, ongoing military secrecy has been a common obstacle, in Canada and abroad. Concerns have been amplified since oil and gas exploration has been permitted to go on in the vicinity of these sites

Kehoe said scientists, First Nations communities and fishermen, including his brother, have been noticing many unexplained phenomena with the sea life around Nova Scotia, including a proliferation of cancerous lesions on the fish and dual-sex crab. Nevertheless, licences have been granted to oil and gas companies to conduct exploration activities near, if not directly over, CB dumpsites off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Legion, for those who are not familiar with it, is one of those magazines that gets on with its mission and reaches a large number of Canadian homes without much notice being paid in the industry. It has a circulation of 320,000 and readership of more than three quarters of a million. It seems to be transforming itself gradually from what it had been -- largely a house organ for the Royal Canadian Legion -- into a magazine for a mature audience, with articles and information that is occasionally unexpected and surprising. This is probably a necessity, since even Korean War veterans are now in their 70s and many of the Second World War veterans are dying off.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Call that a big circulation? Yes

The Xinhua news agency report that the Chinese magazine Reader, exceeded 10 million circulation in April, including unspecified circulation in Canada, where it began distribution in 2004. The bi-monthly claims to be the fourth largest circulation magazine in the world (and the largest in Asia), exceeded only by Reader's Digest, National Geographic and Time.

Originally called Reader's Digest, it got into a legal spat with the original Reader's Digest (which it superficially resembles in editorial style and format). The dispute was resolved when it agreed to change its name to Reader.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

My day job is editing a magazine

Pacific Yachting magazine editor Peter A. Robson will soon be racing across the Pacific aboard the 68' Victoria Clipper in what is expected to be the most gruelling leg of the 2005-06 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

At 35,000 miles, it is the longest sailing event in the world. At 10 months, it is also the longest in duration. The 10 identical 68' racing yachts taking part in the race left Liverpool, England in September 2005 and are expected to finish in July 2006.

Robson will be aboard for the fifth of seven legs. That leg leaves from Qingdao, China (site of the 2008 summer Olympic sailing events) on April 8 and the 5,600-mile race to Victoria is expected to take about 30 days.

"Ever since I first started sailing," said Robson, "racing around the world represented the ultimate sailing adventure. To me it was on par with climbing Everest or competing in the Olympics. Although I managed to get a fair bit of offshore sailing under my belt over the years, I was never involved in one of 'the big ones.' When I heard that the Clipper Race was stopping in Victoria, I knew this could be my chance."

Some may wonder why, at the age of 49, Robson signed on for one of the toughest sailing challenges in the world. "I think its impossible to match the sense of adventure and achievement you get from being a thousand miles from land and then, weeks later, finally seeing land appear right where you've estimated it is going to be. You've done it completely on your own and survived on your own skills and wits. It gives you great confidence. The urge to experience it all once again has been growing in me for quite a few years and this adventure should get it out of my system quite nicely."

Globe notices magazines

Saturday was definitely "magazine day" at the Globe and Mail, which carried an enormous acreage of stories on magazine topics, although much of it was a rehash of stories already reported elswhere:
  • A two-page spread on the whole turmoil surrounding the Canadian Medical Association Journal;
  • An article about the strong readership showing in the Print Measurement Bureau results of What's Cooking magazine, a contract published title produced for Kraft Foods by Redwood Custom Communications;
  • An item in the Weekend Diary by James Adams about the Western Standard's struggles to defend itself against a human-rights complaint in Alberta over the publication of the so-called "Danish cartoons"
  • An article, also by Adams, about whether the PMB results indicated an upswing at Maclean's; the conclusion was, um, maybe.