Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rogers and Quebecor forge online alliance

Content from some of the best known magazines and websites from the Rogers Publishing stable will be showing up within the next few weeks on Canoe, the online portal operated by Quebecor Media. The two companies announced the strategic alliance today.

So Rogers, the one of the country's largest consumer publishers, well known for developing eleven comprehensive magazine websites of its own (,,,, Canadian Parents Online(,,,, Canadian Business Online (, and is hooking up with a web network that now attracts 6.7 million unique visitors a month (as of November 2006).

The Canoe Network already carries such sites as,, La Toile du Québec (, LCN (,Canoe Money ( and the TVA television network's sites ( Almost half of the online audience, until now, has been francophone; it's not known how things will balance out once the Rogers websites are factored in. The Canoe Network also offers online services in the fields of employment (, continuing education (, automobiles (, personals ( and real estate (

"This is a mutually beneficial and natural fit," said Patrick Lauzon, Executive Vice President of Canoe, in a press release. "Rogers Publishing operates some of the most well-recognized and trusted content sources in the country, which will strengthen's position as a premier source of information for Canadians."

"We're excited about our new relationship with Canoe," said Louise Clements, Vice-President of Digital and Interactive at Rogers Consumer Publishing. "This alliance will enable us to further solidify our visibility and disseminate content from our English and French-language brands across the country through one of the largest online destinations for Canadians."

UPDATE: In a story carried Thursday by Sun Media papers (owned by Quebecor) Patrick Lauzon made the following statement:

"Rogers and Quebecor are competitors, so why are we partnering? Online is a very different landscape in terms of where our competition is."

Canoe plans to develop partnerships in international key searches, message services and e-mail, said Lauzon.

"We won't invest in those because we'll never be able to beat the best of those outlets," he said. "But where we could be the best in is in managing and distributing content. We feel we can work with other publishers to build a single entry point."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

British Columbia magazine to publish special issue on devastated Stanley Park

British Columbia magazine is publishing a special issue in early May 2007, devoted entirely to Vancouver's Stanley Park, which was devastated in a recent series of storms. The magazine, will sell for $9.95 and a portion of the proceeds from the special issue to the park's restoration and sponsorships are being offered to raise additional funds.

"Stanley Park is an icon of natural beauty in British Columbia’s largest city, loved and admired by Vancouverites and visitors from around the world," says the magazine in a release. "Stanley Park: After the Storm will be a pictorial tribute to the park—as it was, and can be again.

"New photography shot exclusively for British Columbia Magazine will show the extent of the storms’ wrath. Through in-depth interviews with park and forest management experts, we’ll see what’s in store for the future, and compare the recovery strategies to those used in other urban parks hit by major storms.

"Our special issue will also celebrate the park’s timeless beauty: its native woods and cultivated gardens, its abundant trails, wildlife, and birds. We’ll share surprising facts about the park’s many attractions, including the incomparable Vancouver Aquarium. And we’ll delve into the fascinating history, weaving legend and lore through a chapter filled with charming archival photography."

Information on sponsorship packages can be obtained by contacting the magazine's national sales rep, Brian Stendel ( or Cheryl Pauchuk ( Advance orders of the special issue can be arranged at

KRW Awards deadline Feb 23

The deadline is less than a month away for entries in the 2006 Kenneth R. Wilson Awards, recognizing excellence in trade, professional and farm publications. If you're in one of these categories, you have until 5 p.m., Friday, February 23. Each entry costs $85 for members of the Canadian Business Press (CBP), which runs the awards, or $200 for non-member publications. Winners will be announced at the annual awards dinner at the Old Mill on Monday, June 4, 2007.

Former Fashion columnist signs on at Flare

Tim Blanks, who used to be a contributing editor for St. Joseph Media's Fashion magazine, has now been hired at rival Flare (Rogers) as an editor-at-large, and his first column will appear in the March issue (on sale mid-February).

Blanks, well-known as the voice of much of independently produced Fashion Television File, which airs on CBC Newsworld, will remain based in London. He writes regularly about fashion for international magazines and newspapers including Vogue, The Financial Times, Interview, Fantastic Man and Arena Homme Plus. He is contributing editor for where he writes about fashion, entertainment and arts events and wrote and presented Masters of Style, a series of sixty-minute documentaries about fashion designers.

"Tim's column will offer Flare readers tremendous insight into the world of fashion and global trendsetters," said Lisa Tant, editor-in-chief of Flare, in a Rogers press release. "His writing is clever, passionate and always informative. Our readers are in for a real treat and I am thrilled to add his name to the Flare masthead."

Masthead releases salary survey results

Congratulations to Masthead magazine (sub req'd) for its new, improved salary survey data in the just-published Jan-Feb issue. Among the many improvements is the use of median figures, rather than misleading averages and its division of consumer magazine data into small/medium and large (>50,000 circ). In addition, the survey tried to get a handle on sales commissions and to pinpoint how valuable experience is. Compliments to Gloria Ma, who compiled the data from in-magazine and online sources) and Editor Bill Shields.

Of particular interest are the median salaries for some of the bellwether jobs in the industry

Publishers (large) $100,000
Publishers (small/medium) $36,000

Editor (large) $51,000
Editor (small/medium) $40,500

Art Director (large) $59,000
Art Director (small/medium) $30,000

Advertising manager (large) $56,500
Advertising manager (small/medium) $67,000

Production manager (large) $61,100
Production manager (small/medium) $42,500

Circulation director (large) $69,450
Circulation director (small/medium) $45,350

Some caution is warranted in reading this and the rest of the data in the survey. For one thing, editorial people are much more forthcoming and responsive. For another, in some categories, the number of respondents is quite small, with as few as one or two people providing data. A total of 572 people responded which Masthead says is 27% more than last year.

Still, it is the only such source I know of and it's welcome. Looking over its results, it seems like an accurate representation of compensation. Worth picking up a copy at the newsstand even if you're not a subscriber (although I wonder why not).

[Fair disclosure. Though I don't think it makes a difference to my views, readers should be aware that I am paid, each issue, to write the Good Question column in Masthead.]

Now, I guess, we know the price

It's so brazen, so upfront that I'm not sure what to make of Creative Review, a magazine serving the design side of the British advertising industry, selling the guest editorship of its 10th anniversary February edition to an advertising agency.

According to a story in the UK Press Gazette, there is nothing stealthy about it; the ultra-trendy agency Mother put a big, yellow sticker on the front, saying it had paid £15,000 for the privilege. The theme of the issue was “I Sold My Soul and I Love It” and debates what it means to work in visual communications and the ethical choices professionals such as advertisers and graphic designers have to make on a daily basis.

CR editor Patrick Burgoyne insisted that the magazine retained final editorial control, after a series of meetings between the two companies over the content of the magazine.

Mother initially paid for the issue — which appears as a price sticker on the cover — but Burgoyne said the final cost was “a lot more, to fund the editorial content....This issue had three times the production spend but didn’t cost the readers anymore. All the money Mother spent is subsiding the reader so they get more for their money in that issue.”

As part of its experiment, Mother auctioned off a page of advertising in the magazine on E-bay. The CR editor said he could foresee a time when a magazine will put all its ads up for auction.

Burgoyne said: “All magazines are looking at alternative ways of funding their issues. We are a professional magazine and we have seen a lot of our advertisers putting their money into the internet and away from the printed page — they didn’t want to do display adverts. So magazines are looking at different ways around it, to fund the editorial in the magazine. It’s not something we can do regularly, but it’s an interesting way of looking at funding the editorial side of the magazine.”

Burgoyne did not think the one-off would affect future editorial on the agency.

But he added: “We will have to see if people think that we are completely compromising editorial.”

Monday, January 29, 2007

Could the "song" model work
the same for "articles"?

On Saturday, the Globe and Mail carried an interesting and provocative article by Robert Everett Green about the ascendancy of the song over the traditional "album" approach in pop music.

It occured (and perhaps not a moment too soon) that this has potential implications for magazines. If the song is the unit of commerce and interaction in music, could it be that the "article" could similarly become the unit for magazines? Well, yes and no and maybe.
"You've got to spend only a short time online to realize that songs, not albums, are the principal medium of exchange on the Internet," said the article. "Every time someone buys a portable digital-music player (and 1 in 3 music buyers owned one last year, up from 1 in 4 in 2005), that person has one less reason to buy CDs. What's less clear is how this is reshaping our ideas about popular music, and what, if anything, may replace the conventional album -- or the conventional single, for that matter."
There is no evidence that end users are interested in remixing, mashing or otherwise sampling magazine articles (though, who knows, they may be).

Some readers might be interested in paying a small amount to buy only the article or articles they wanted, but magazines would be much less interested in selling the content that way, since 60% or more of consumer magazine revenue comes from advertising which, to put it one way, is the business of renting readers to advertisers.

If readers were able to circumvent this by buying only the text and illustrations of one story out of many, they would essentially be opting out of the audience, thereby reducing what magazines are renting to advertisers. It wouldn't result in readers paying the cost of production, merely not paying for it by lending their attention to advertising messages.

Plus, research shows that magazine readers actually like the ads they see and consider them part of the magazine-reading experience.

Who counts ads in Canadian trades?

It has always seemed odd that a Canadian company tracks ad spending for U.S. trade magazines, but can't get Canadian trade publishers to buy its services. According to a story in Mastheadonline (sub req'd) database managment company Inquiry Management Systems (IMS), made a presentation to the Canadian Business Press (CBP) earlier this month and it's being considered; a few years ago, it made a similar pitch and was turned down. (The argument then was that the publishers were already tracking their competitors' ad pages, so why pay someone else to do it?)

IMS's operation in Toronto (it also has offices in New York and London) track the ads in some 2,500 U.S. trade and consumer magazines. The foundation of the system is simple: ranks of people at keyboards tally up the origin, content, size, shape, colour and and position of ads and put them in a vast database. Clients can then use reports derived from this data to assess market share and generate leads for business they are not getting, but their competitors are. That's an oversimplification, but most of the other IMS products derive from this basic data. (It also monitors online advertising and involvement in trade shows.)

IMS provides its services already to CBP's counterpart in the U.S., American Business Media.

The Masthead story suggests that having reliable third party data may be becoming more important to CBP in its lobbying the federal government for continued support through the publications assistance program (PAP) and the Canada Magazine Fund (CMF). CBP President Phil Boyd says a subcommitte of the board will report back on the IMS proposal in March.

[UPDATE: A friend in the consumer magazine business says that ad tracking, third party or otherwise, actually works against the industry's interests because the funders turn around and say 'You've got all these ads, what do you need our help for?' In this, the funders tend to forget that, for consumer magazines at least, the ads pay for the creative and, for a large number of smaller magazines without any ad support (most literary and cultural), government support is vital.]

Friday, January 26, 2007

Muslim Girl launched in U.S.
by Toronto firm

A Toronto-based communications and contract publishing company called execuGo Media has launched a new bimonthly magazine called Muslim Girl, aimed mostly at the U.S. market. Its premier edition has a circulation of 25,000, mainly distributed in areas known to have large Muslim populations, including New York; Jersey City, New Jersey; Dearborn, Michigan; Chicago, Los Angeles and areas of Texas. Within two years, there are hopes that the magazine will have a per-issue circulation of 100,000. There is also plans to distribute the magazine in Ontario and Toronto, said Ausma Khan, the editor in chief, who is a lawyer and writer.

One of Muslim Girl's gimmicks is that it solicits its readers to be its cover subjects. Wardah Chaudhary, a 16-year old Muslim girl from Tulsa, Oklahoma, was the magazine's first cover girl. Those interested to become the cover girl of the magazine`s upcoming issues can log on to the magazine`s website .

"One thing I know for sure is that I am not behind in anything just because I wear Hijab," said cover girl Chaudhary, who appeared on the magazine`s cover wearing a red and white head covering, with tiny red, white and blue stars on her right cheeks, said in her essay referring to her style of Hijab. "To all the girls that are reading this, I want them to know to be proud of who you are."

Khan, writer, human rights lawyer and activist, liked the magazine's concept so much that she left a teaching position at Northwestern University to become editor in chief. "Most representations of Muslims in the media are negative," she said. "Muslim Girl magazine challenges those perceptions by telling the stories of Muslim teens who are proud to be American and who contribute to American society in so many positive ways. This is a chance for their voices to be heard. Our editorial mandate is to `enlighten, celebrate and inspire' them."

The U.S. cover price is US$4.95 and an annual subscription rate is US$19.99.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mmmmm, spicy. Chili Pepper is colour of the year, says Pantone

Chili Pepper (Pantone 19-1557), a deep, spicy red, is this year's colour of the year, according to the colour correction mavens. As reported in Design Edge Canada:
Pantone chooses Chili Pepper as the colour of 2007

“Whether expressing danger, celebrations, love or passion, red will not be ignored,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, in a released statement. “In 2007, there is an awareness of the melding of diverse cultural influences, and Chili Pepper is a reflection of exotic tastes both on the tongue and to the eye.” It’s a confident colour that reflects an adventurous spirit, she adds.

Now you know.

Some truths about indie mags

Several indie magazine publishers in Toronto submitted to be interviewed for an excellent cover story in eye weekly that delivers some home truths, among them being how hard it is to make a living doing what they do.

The story is by eye columnist Dale Duncan, who was also one of the founders of Spacing. She talks with women who work as editors at Broken Pencil, the late Lola, Kiss Machine and Shameless. The quotes and information she elicited paints a somewhat gloomy picture.

For instance, she says of Spacing, where she is managing editor:
Our magazine may influence the mayor of Toronto, but it doesn't come close to paying my rent.
The article points out that fans of the magazines often assume they are much bigger and more substantial than they are, sometimes sending resumes in hopes of landing a paying job at a title at which they don't realize that the editors are unpaid.
“People definitely assume that we have an office,” says Melinda Mattos, who started [Shameless] magazine with Nicole Cohen in 2003. “I often jokingly refer to Shameless headquarters, but Shameless headquarters is wherever we happen to be sitting at the time.”
(Mattos and Cohen, by the way, still hold out some hope that someone else will take over running Shameless (see earlier post) so as not to let their readers down. Nevertheless, the spring issue of the magazine will be their last, after four years of slugging it out.)

While small, independent magazines punch above their weight, there is a fundamental problem, says Duncan:

The problem here is not necessarily that neither Spacing nor Shameless have office space, or that we aren't thrilled to be darlings of the press. It's that, like so many other seemingly successful independent magazines in Canada (see: Maisonneuve, This Magazine, Kiss Machine, Broken Pencil and the now defunct, but sorely missed Lola), there is a gap between how much we're loved and the financial support we receive in return for what we do. When publishing your own magazine takes up almost all your free time, the awards you receive, the readers you inspire and the influence you wield will only keep you going for so long. The issue here is sustainability – if you don't eventually receive a paycheque for your work, burnout sets in, and when that happens, magazines that fill those gaping holes left by mainstream media run the risk of extinction.

“Everyone talks about how important [independent media] is,” says Cohen, who recently started her PhD in communication and culture at York University. “They should also talk about how to support it.”

*(For those outside of Toronto, eye is a competitor to NOW magazine in the alternative weekly business; eye is owned by Torstar, the publishers of the Toronto Star. The irony of this story about struggling indies being published in eye is not lost on me -- DBS).


Family-owned Stockholm publishing group buys Time special interest mags

Official word has confirmed the unofficial word that a Stockholm-based publishing company has pipped the other contenders at the post to buy the 18 special interest titles being sold by Time Warner's Time4Media and Parenting groups. The price -- which is not confirmed -- is said to be about US$200 million, less than had been expected or hoped for (as much as $300 million).

[UPDATE: The New York Post says the price was US$225 million.]

According to a story carried on mediabistro, Bonnier Magazine Group chair Jonas Bonnier sees this as making a leap into the big time:
"We are extremely pleased to have reached an agreement that elevates Bonnier to the highest echelon of consumer publishers nationwide. The potential synergies between the new properties and World's existing titles — as well as the corporate and individual growth that it will lead to — makes the future bright for all of us."
Through the transaction, Bonnier (a familly owned company with interests in 20 countries) and its U.S. magazine partner, World Publications, will become one of the largest consumer publishing groups in America, with 40 titles and annual revenue of more than $350 million and more than 1,000 employees. This is the third acquisition by Bonnier in the United States and its first in partnership with World.

The acquired magazines are : Parenting, Babytalk, Popular Science, Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Yachting, MotorBoating, Salt Water Sportsman, Skiing, SKI, TransWorld SKATEboarding, TransWorld SNOWBOARDING, TransWorld MOTOCROSS, TransWorld SURF, ride bmx, QUAD, SHOT BUSINESS and TransWorld business. A release said all editorial, sales and marketing staffs will remain at their current offices, primarily in New York, California and Colorado.

World Publications publishes more than 20 magazines in the affluent lifestyle vein, such as Boating World, Cruising World, Garden Design, Islands, Saveur, Sportfishing and Florida Travel & Life.

Vertical wins award from rotorcraft peers

Trade publishing is often a way for ambitious individuals to get into the business, serving a specialized audience in a highly focussed way. There are few better examples of this than Kitchener-based Vertical magazine, run by a husband and wife team, Linda and Mike Reyno.

The magazine is about the helicopter business and Mike, a photojournalist, provides much of the spectacular photography, and Linda handles the sales and marketing. The result is a handsome publication, apparently very popular in its industry; the evidence is that it has won a "Salute to Excellence" award from Helicopter Association International (HAI), an international association representing 2,500 individuals and companies in the helicopter industry in 73 nations.

Vertical, which the Reynos launched in 2002 from a home office, covers almost every sector of the commercial rotorcraft industry; the magazine uses professional freelance writers and Mike's aerial photography to cover everything from flying along the East Coast of Canada, to heli-logging in Northern California, to seismic operations in Alberta, to fighting fires in Northern Ontario. MHM Publishing Inc., the company that publishes Vertical, l also has a full-time staff of five people.

The HAI award will be made in March at a conference in Orlando, Florida.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Transcontinental launches eNBusiness
in both digital and print

A Sackville, N.B.-based division of Transcontinental Media is launching a regional business publication called eNBusiness that will be made will be available in both print and digital editions. The digital edition (free) will use the services of Advanced Publishing Corp. and will have interactive and full search capabilities. Advertisers will be able to increase their brand exposure in the digital edition by providing live links from their ads to their home pages and to direct customer contact through clickable e-maillinks. Free subscriptions of the digital edition are available .

The Giller Prize is rigged and corrupt,
says Geist columnist

Geist magazine columnist Stephen Henighan says the Giller Prize is rigged. He isn't elliptical about it; in his Kingmaker's column he calls the prize "the most conspicuous example of corporate suffocation of the public institutions that built our literary culture".
Nothing signalled the collapse of the literary organism as vividly as the appearance of this glitzy chancre on the hide of our culture. Year after year the vast majority of the books shortlisted for the Giller came from the triumvirate of publishers owned by the Bertelsmann Group: Knopf Canada, Doubleday Canada and Random House Canada. Like the three musketeers, this trio is in fact a quartet: Bertelsmann also owns 25 percent of McClelland & Stewart, and now manages M&S’s marketing. From 1994 to 2004, all the Giller winners, with the exception of Mordecai Richler, lived within a two-hour drive of the corner of Yonge and Bloor.
Henighan is also scornful of the corrosive role of Chapters Indigo and of the influence and manipulation by a "family compact" of writers like Margaret Atwood, Adrienne Clarkson and Alice Munro as jurors and reports on the coronation (not Henighan's word) of this year's winner Vincent Lam by Atwood.

Regina's wounded civic pride doesn't change facts of Maclean's article, columnist says

The Regina Leader Post's political columnist, Murray Mandryk, in a January 24 column, essentially accepts that much of what Maclean's magazine's Jonathan Gatehouse reported about the beleagured North Central neighbourhood is true. [See earlier post]

Mandryk criticizes the hyperbole of some of the writing and presentation ("Canada's worst neighbourhood") and digs back to make the point that Gatehouse has been wrong before (a glowing piece on former premier Roy Romanow's 1999 election campaign that missed that it was leading to minority government).

But the column is much more critical of those, including Mayor Pat Fiacco, who deny the problems exist or claim it's not as bad as Maclean's makes out.

"...all the wounded civic pride in the world can't gloss over the other numbers that Maclean's uses to make its case for North Central as the nation's worst neighbourhood. It notes that local food banks deal with more than 3,600 requests a month and that the local health authority distributed 1.8 million needles last year which gives the 153-block area "more IV drug users per capita than on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside."

"Moreover, observations in the article about 11- and 12-year-old girls working the stroll and the "high rate of break and enters, car thefts, street robberies and violent assaults placing Regina at the top of Canada's urban crime rankings for nine of the past 10 years" shouldn't come as a shock to Reginans. Nor is it likely the first time we've heard a community leader like North CentralCommunity Association president Brenda Mercer describe her neighbourhood as "a Third World country."

"So why are we so defensive when the same criticism shows up in the national media?

"Isn't the last two weeks of small-town reaction to the Maclean's piece far more embarrassing to Regina than the original article, itself? Wouldn't we all feel better if Fiacco simply acknowledged the reality and said more needs to be done?

"Sometimes reporters do get it wrong. Gatehouse didn't. I wish the same could be said for our politicians."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

LNA ad page count essentially flat in 2006

The number of ROP advertising pages reported by Leading National Advertisers (which tracks about 95 Canadian titles) in 2006 was essentially flat, down 0.1%. Actual revenue, due to rate increases, was up about 4% to $698.5 million. In 2000, the similar basket of magazines sold $454 million.

There is an excellent summary of the winners and losers in Mastheadonline (sub req'd).

Monday, January 22, 2007

Time Inc. special interest sale
may fetch US$200 million

Time Inc. may not get the US$250 million it was hoping for from the sale of 18 special interest publications. Betting is that the whole package will sell for about US$200 million, $100 million of which would be for the Time4Media enthusiast titles, such as Popular Science, Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Motorboating, Yachting and Ski. Second round bids for the titles are due today.

According to a story in Folio: the titles in the Time4Media and Parenting Groups could be split among three separate buyers. One of the frontrunners is InterMedia Partners, a private equity firm which recently bought the huntin' and fishin' titles of Primedia for US$170 million.

Games and the people who play them

Wonderful, colourful, macabre cover on Broken Pencil magazine's current issue -- The Games Issue -- with a stylized presentation of Twister, mixed with homage to Clue (with a crescent wrench, on the Twister board). The new issue of the magazine about zine culture is being launched tonightwith a games night at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street West in Toronto where various board and other games will be played by hipsters in attendance. There is even an ATARI tournament and it doesn't get more retro than that. Admission is $5, which gets you an issue. [Thanks to torontoist for the heads up.]

This is what's meant by a growth industry

The closest most of us get to the Canadian seed industry is, this time of year, poring over a catalogue, dreaming of spring. But for the seed trade itself, it's more than mooning over the latest vegetable variations.

Every year, in its January issue, Germination magazine, published in Winnipeg by Issues Ink (a communications company that also does everything from graphic design to speech writing and event management), honours its constituents in Canada's seed industry by giving out GENEius awards. These are for "forward thinking movers and shakers in the seed industry". This year, it chose 6 individuals, ranging from suppliers to seed researchers. It's an interesting example of how highly focussed trade publishers stay relevant and connected with their small, but choice audiences.

Issues Ink doesn't have a high profile in the Canadian magazine industry, but it has half a dozen products that serve highly specialized readerships.
  • Germination (circ. 5,700) is a 6-times a year publication that serves seed growers, plant breeders, seed analysts, brokers, distributors and suppliers. (Shown is it's November 2006 issue)
  • (circ 70,000) is a twice-a-year guide to the Alberta seed business.
  • Spud Smart (circ. 3,000) serves growers, processors and suppliers to the Canadian potato industry.
  • Seed World (circ. 5,300) serving the American seed industry
  • Seed Week, a weekly web synopsis of Seed World news, mergers and acquisitions and so on.
  • G-mail, a weekly news bulletin e-mail from the editors of Germination.
  • R-mail, a weekly e-letter for agri-retailers.
  • Reach and Discover, a magazine about research and innovation in the agriculture in Alberta.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Shameless plug III

Enrollment is now being accepted for So You Want to Start a Magazine? at Ryerson University's Chang School for Continuing Education. The course is held February 10 and 11 (Friday and Saturday). You can read more about it here or by clicking on the link to the right.

Time Inc. will eventually cut 2.6% of staff
winding up with 10,500 employees

[NOTE This post has been updated and corrected.] By the time Time Inc. is through with restructuring, in order to invest the money in its magazine-related websites, the toll is estimated to be about 800+ people from its workforce, according to a story in the New York Times. It cut 600 last year; 289 yesterday and should shed about 530 people when it sells 18 of its special interest publications such as Field and Stream and Parenting.

Ann S. Moore, Time Inc.’s chief executive, said: “We need to continue to evolve to meet the cost pressures and challenges presented by our rapidly shifting industry.”

John Huey, editor in chief of Time Inc., said in a memo that the cuts were being made to help “move quickly into a future of flexible, multiplatform content.”

The company is “changing much of what we do and how we do it,” Mr. Huey said, adding that the cuts did not mean the company would sacrifice journalistic integrity “or that we are getting out of the print business.”

People, perhaps the most successful magazine in history, is laying off about 44 editorial workers, though it is also creating seven new correspondent jobs around the country for a net loss around 37. It is shutting its bureaus in Washington, Miami, Chicago and Austin, Tex....

Employees at People’s soon-to-be-shut bureaus said they felt shell-shocked yesterday as Larry Hackett, People’s managing editor, delivered the news by speakerphone from the magazine’s New York offices. The four bureaus have about 20 people combined.

Mr. Hackett told employees that the cuts were “brought upon us by some real cold hard facts when it comes to how this business is run, and how media is changing.” He said that he regretted the cuts, but that they were necessary for “the health of the magazine” as the company addresses the “needs of the Web site, specials and other technologies that will be emerging.”

Regina mayor says Maclean's
articles one-sided

Mayor Pat Fiacco of Regina predicted in advance that a just-published follow-up article by Maclean's magazine on the troubled North Central neighbourhood (characterizing it as the country's worst neighbourhood) wouldn't help matters.
"I said 'Don't expect anything better,' he said Thursday. "And that's exactly what we got: Nothing better ... Again, no one is disputing the challenges that North Central is facing. But I need them to explain to me why they chose not to print the positive statements that those people living in that neighbourhood made."
According to an article in the Regina Leader Post, the follow-up article, by Colin Campbell, didn't defuse the anger over the original article about crime and drugs in the neighbourhood, written a couple of weeks ago by Jonathan Gatehouse.

"It is one of those things where they've decided once again to only report one side," Fiacco said. "They talked to so many people at that North Central Family Centre (meeting), giving their side of the story, and he didn't record one bit of it in that article. Not one."

Campbell disagreed.

"I wrote everything that the mayor told me (about) when I was there," he said. "I heard about, like I said, the boxing program, the running program, the community centre, the 43 new homes that have been built -- which by the way many are still empty for various reasons.

"On the other hand, in the three days I spent there, I talked to probably more people who were upset with what's happened in their neighbourhood and who took real issue with their civic leaders saying that a lot of improvements have been made, because in their opinion, they haven't been made, enough things haven't been done to try and fix the problem there."

Here's your hat, what's your hurry? Hello! dumps its Canadian management

So much for the Canadian edition. So much for a particularly Canadian spin on celebrity coverage. Gone yesterday were Hello! Canada's publisher, Shelley Middlebrook, editor Christopher Loudon and art director Benjamin MacDonald. Rogers Publishing, which launched a joint venture Canadian Hello! magazine only six months ago, has essentially ditched the Canadian operation in favour of it being run from the Madrid head office. Hello! originated as Hola! in Spain and went on to spin off a very successful British version.

A skeleton crew, made up of managing editor Ciara Hunt (formerly editor-at-large) and someone from advertising, will report to Countess Isabella de Courson, the Madrid-based editorial director of international publishing, according to a story by James Adams in the Globe and Mail.

This is not the first instance of a big publishing company getting in the celebrity publishing game and bailing out in almost indecent haste; Torstar's venture into celebrity publishing, Weekly Scoop, also lasted only a few months.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Red faces at Consumer Reports
on child car seat story

Consumer Reports , a highly trusted and reliable magazine which has a large Canadian circulation and following, has taken a real hit to its credibility. It has had to retract a story published a couple of weeks ago that said about a dozen well-known brands of children's car seats that are sold in Canada were unsafe. According to a story on the CityTV website:
"It turns out the tests were conducted at higher crash speeds than the authors originally claimed. The earlier contention had the seats failing "disastrously" in impacts of 60 kilometres an hour.

"But now Consumer Reports indicates it has since received new information from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the speed of the tests, which may actually have been closer to 110 km/h. Therefore, the publication admits, the tests can't be considered accurate.

"Transport Canada had assured all along that the standards on the seats in this country were different from their U.S. counterparts, and there was nothing for parents to fear. As it turns out, it appears they were the ones who got it right."

Consumer Reports put out a statement on its website that said, in part:
To those who may have seen the report earlier in print, on the web, or in broadcasts, we urge you to remember that use of any child seat is safer than no child seat, but to suspend judgment on the merits of individual products until the new testing has been completed and the report re-published.
Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union, a non-profit, educational organization. The magazine has 4 million paid circulation and a readership of some 16 million in North America.

Liberal culture critics named

The new Liberal shadow cabinet has been announced by Liberal leader Stéphane Dion. Several appointments are relevant to the magazine industry:
  • Tina Keeper is the new critic for Canadian Heritage, which is responsible for the Canada Magazine Fund and the Publications Assistance Program (postal subsidy). Keeper is a first-time MP from Churchill, Manitoba. Keeper is a member of the Norway House First Nation and a television actor (North of 60).
  • Borys Wrzesnewskyj of Etobicoke Centre is the new critic for crown corporations, which includes Canada Post.
  • Ken Dryden (who ran for the Liberal leadership) and Andy Scott are chair and vice-chair respectively of the Caucus Committee on Social Justice, which oversees cultural policy issues.

Volunteers make a big difference to
small magazines

A lot of magazines in this country rely on volunteers to keep them running; either formally, as in upaid internships; or informally. Statistics Canada's last survey (2003-04) said that there were 5,260 voluntary or unpaid staff working for all kinds of magazines, an average of 2.2 volunteers per magazine.

Of course this is in inverse proportion to the magazine's circulation, with small and special interest titles using the most voluntary labour. Magazines with fewer than 5,000 circulation tend to use an average of 3.6 volunteers. Not-for-profit magazines use an average of 4.

The average volunteers per magazine by province/region are:
  • Atlantic 3
  • Quebec 2.3
  • Ontario 2.1
  • Manitoba 2.6
  • Saskatchewan 2.3
  • Alberta 2.1
  • B.C. 2.1
  • Territories 0.7
This calculation was prompted by the recent release of the Hill Strategies Inc. report on voluntarism in arts and culture in Canada. They found that arts and culture generally enjoyed an average 120 hours of unpaid work from each volunteer, or about 88 million hours from 729,000 volunteers in 2004.

Although we have to be cautious making such extrapolations, it would seem that Canadian magazines would therefore be benefiting from more than 631,000 hours of volunteer labour; it's less than 1% of arts and culture volunteerism, but without it, many literary and cultural magazine simply couldn't exist.

Canadian titles continue
big discounting ways

The current offer from the Rogers Magazine Service continue to demonstrate that Canadian titles are the big discounters when it comes to trolling for subs.
  • The leader is Maclean's, which offers a $39.95 annual price, an 83% discount off the newsstand cover price. (This is no change from previous offers)
  • Next are Toronto Life ($24/77%) and Flare ($12/77%)
  • Chatelaine is $14.95, or 71% off the cover price
  • Today's Parent ($16.95 / 68%)
  • Canadian Business ($34.95 / 67%)
  • Carguide ($15 / 64%)
  • Loulou ($16.95 / 63%)
American titles in the offer (which includes 20 Air Miles reward miles for every sub purchased and20 bonus miles if you buy 2 or more) are much less generous. This is consistent with previous offers:
  • Fitness ($22.99 / 57%)
  • Golf Digest ($34.95 / 51%)
  • Bon Appetit ($28.95 / 51%)
  • Prevention ($23.97 / 49%)
  • Vanity Fair ($36.95 / 44%)
  • Men's Health ($32.71 / 45%)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Alternatives and The New Quarterly
"twin" their issues

It's not that often that Canadian magazines work as closely together as Alternatives magazine (an environmental journal) and The New Quarterly (a literary journal) have. Both are published on the campus of the University of Waterloo; the "twinned" issues on Creative Communities (Alternatives) and the Artist-as-Activist (TNQ) will be officially launched this week.

Creative Communities is a double issue that talks about models of community engagement, from international eco-arts projects, festivals and film to storytelling and gardening, as well as visual and performing arts. Artist as Activist is a theme issue that goes behind the scenes with writers, storytellers, musicians, visual artists and performers to reflect on the complex, often heartbreaking, world of arts creation and community collaboration. This book-length issue includes a live-recording CD of R.Murray Schafer’s Wolf Music (for subscribers only).

(The two publications are coinciding their launch with sponsorship of a new opera by
singer/songwriter James Gordon, called Hardscrabble Road, about the down-on-their-luck and the dispossessed; the musical opens on Friday January 19 at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener. Inspired by the Beggar's Opera and its successor the Three-Penny Opera, Hardscrabble Road's music is a hybrid combination of folk, pop, jazz, rock and world beat sounds.)

If you can't say something nice... Regina hates Maclean's article

Last week, Maclean's magazine published an article saying that Regina was home to "Canada's worst neighbourhood", a crime and problem-ridden slum. Predictably, there is a backlash, said an article in the Regina Leader Post. The article asked"How did the province where medicare was born end up with a city this frightening?"

"We're not scum, we're very proud people," said an e-mail to Maclean's from a resident of the North Central area resident.

"Shame on Maclean's magazine," said Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco who called it "irresponsible reporting to simply paint this negative picture of Regina when we are working so hard at making life better."

Colin Campbell, an assistant editor of Maclean's, had to field a lot of local anger when meeting with aggrieved residents. He was told there were far worse places in Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg. Campbell is writing a follow-up article to the original by writer Jonathan Gatehouse.

Not everyone agrees Maclean's got it wrong, said the Leader Post. Some residents welcomed the attention to some of the things that Maclean's highlighted, including the most urban crime in Canada in nine of the past 10 years (second only to Saskatoon in 2005), second highest per capita murder rate in 2006, behind Edmonton and more IV drug users than the downtown eastside in Vancouver.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Charlene Rooke succeeds Jim Sutherland at Western Living

Charlene Rooke, the editor of enRoute magazine and, before that, of Avenue magazine in Calgary, is to succeed Jim Sutherland as editor-in-chief of Western Living magazine, as reported in an item on mastheadonline (sub req'd). As reported in an earlier post here, Sutherland decided to step down from the top job after 20 years in the business, in order to pursue other, freelance, opportunities.

Volunteer of the Year Award nominations sought by Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada is accepting nominations until March 1 for its Volunteer of the Year award.It recognizes one individual's outstanding volunteer contribution to the Canadian consumer magazine industry. The award honours a person whose volunteerism has had a national impact, and who has been in the magazine industry for a minimum of 10 years. The award will be presented at an industry luncheon at MagNet, the industry conference, on June 14. The person selected receives an original piece of Canadian art. Nomination forms are available at the Magazines Canada website.

Ubiquity is the new exclusivity

"Ubiquity is the new exclusivity."

This paradoxical remark is part of a New York Times story about how advertisers, those people we love who give us money for the privilege of holding our stories apart in magazines, now believe people's time is so fractured that the best place to advertise is everywhere; on eggshells, subway turnstiles, the bottom of urinals (I made that one up, but it's probably been done).

“We never know where the consumer is going to be at any point in time, so we have to find a way to be everywhere,” said Linda Kaplan Thaler, chief executive at the Kaplan Thaler Group, a New York ad agency.

A city dweller 30 years ago was exposed to 2,000 ad messages a day, according to Yankelovich Partners; now it is 5,000.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Four of big five U.S. mag companies suffered ad page declines in 2006

Four of the big five U.S. magazine companies experienced over all declines in ad pages during 2006, according to a story in MediaDaily News (based on Publishers Information Bureau data):
  • Time Inc. (4.8%)
  • Hearst (0.7%)
  • Hachette Filipacchi (7.1%)
  • Meredith Corporation (1.4%)
Only Conde Nast saw an increase in ad pages sold of 3.5%.

The good, and no-so-good, of art direction by remote control

"It works a lot better than I thought it would," says Darryl Brown, the art director of Geez magazine. You see Brown, who has a full-time day job at Staccato Design in Portland, Oregon, does all his work over a high speed hookup with Geez headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

In a video taped by the internet channel Yamhill.TV, from Yamhill County, Oregon, Brown talks about the upsides, and down, of working remotely. (The video, avaiable in Quicktime and Flash, is just over 7 minutes long).

Brown says the biggest drawbacks of working at a distance are that he misses out on a lot of the discussion and early planning of issues (though he is copied on everything, he leaves a lot of that to the editors) and also the "creative energy" that is present in the last couple of weeks before an issue goes to press.

Geez is by no means the only such publication where far-flung staff somehow find a way to work together, using the internet. It would be interesting to hear comments from some others and how they feel about the arrangement. If they had their druthers, would they be working face-to-face, or is remote working the new normal?

Friday, January 12, 2007

NYT Magazine leads US in ad pages sold

No big surprise, but according to early data from the Publishers Information Bureau (PIB), reported by Folio: magazine, the New York Times Magazine sold the most ad pages of any PIB-tracked magazine in 2006. It sold 3,965 pages, compared with People, with 3,741, InStyle with 3,487 and Forbes with 3,389.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Crack appears in U.S. magazine common front on postal increases

Consumer magazine publishers in the U.S., particularly the big ones, and small and medium-sized publishers, particularly trade publishers, are a wee bit testy with each other this week in their submissions to the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission about proposed mailing rate increases, according to a story in Folio:

Unlike in Canada, where there is a more-or-less united front of consumer and trade magazine publishers when negotiating with Canada Post, American Business Media (ABM), representing trade publishers, says proposals contained in briefs by the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) and Time Inc. will potentially cost publishers more the smaller their circulation is.

ABM favours a proposal made by the U.S. Postal Service that would see a system-wide increase of 8.4% and says that the MPA or Time proposals seek greater incentives for larger titles that co-mail and co-palletize, incentives that won't be available to many smaller publishers and will simply make an over-burdened system even worse.

Under Time's proposal, says David Straus, postal counsel for the ABM, small publishers will face an average increase of 18.38 per cent, while large publishers would face 9.94%. Under MPA's proposal, he said, the comparable rates would be 16.48% and 9.49%.

Of course, MPA and Time saw it entirely differently and argued that they were simply trying to reward efficiency. An MPA spokesperson said that they had built in safeguards to protect small publishers, safeguards that apparently don't reassure their trade publishing cousins. For details, read the rest of the longish story.

National Magazine Awards pleads for entries

[This item has been UPDATED]

Design editors at various Canadian magazines recently received a plaintive e-mail from the President of the National Magazine Awards Foundation because of a record low number of entries in the Homes and Gardens category this year (the deadline for entries was yesterday, January 10).

[Similar e-mails went out for Service, Personal Finance and Business categories (see comment).]

The situation is apparently so dire that the NMAF is worried about whether it will have to cancel [some categories] for this year's awards program, which will be held on Friday, June 15.

We'll let the message, signed by Kim Pittaway, speak for itself:
I'm writing to ask for your help. This year, the Homes and Gardens category for the National Magazine Awards has had the lowest number of entries in its history. The board and I recognize that there has been dissatisfaction with this category among the magazine community, and that the low number of entries likely reflects that dissatisfaction. We will be consulting with interested magazine editors and contributors over the course of 2007 about how best to define and judge this category in the future, with resulting changes in place for next year's program. (Because the rules have already been posted for this year, that is our
earliest opportunity for change.)

But to keep the category alive, we need your help now: because of the low number of entries, we face the real possibility that the category may be cancelled from this year's program. Given the importance of this category to our industry, I think that would be a shame. I am writing to ask you to support the awards and this category in particular by submitting your best work to this year's program, and then by participating in our category review as 2007 progresses.
What exactly is the dissatisfaction? It's not like there aren't a lot of possible entries from the large number of magazines eligible to enter in this category. Comments welcome.

Making the rounds with Gotham

Even if you wouldn't know a "stemless glyph" if you found it in your soup, you may be interested in what is considered a very big deal in the typography world with the release of Gotham Rounded; apparently Gotham is a favoured typeface among the cognescenti and rounded faces are de rigeur for Web 2.0 applications. This, from an item in Typographica, an online journal about type. (There's no Canadian angle on this, apparently, but then type is international.)


Urban environments and the media projects that explore them

(From Spacing -- illustration by Marlena Zuber)

The Montreal-based website UrbanPhoto, whose mission is "the exploration of cities through words and photography", has nice things to say about three media projects, two of which are magazines and one of which is...something else, sort of like a magazine.

The story highlights the work of Spacing magazine and [murmur], an audio project, both based in Toronto and Urbania, a two-year-old magazine based in Montreal.

Spacing, as readers of this blog will know, is a quarterly devoted to urban public space, its planning, enhancement and expansion.

[murmur], which is located in Toronto's Kensington market, Vancouver's Chinatown and Montreal (where it is called [murmure]) offers passersby the opportunity, via small signs, to dial a phone number and listen to audio clips of people's stories about the city.

Urbania started out as a design project and morphed into a magazine which, every issue, covers a particular theme about the city.

Interesting, thought-provoking article.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mags Canada makes "Buy 2, get 1 free" offer to a million+ potential magazine readers

Magazines Canada is launching a national subscription-selling campaign promoting a Buy 2, Get 1 FREE offer. It will be targeted to over 1 million magazine readers across the country.

Inspired by the Canadian Marketing Association award-winning 2003 campaign, it will be supported by direct response print ads, online advertising and a website which will highlight 155 diverse Canadian titles.

"We're using magazines as the incentive.., said Michael Fox, Senior VP of Circulation & Development at Rogers Publishing Limited and a volunteer who has been driving the co-operative direct marketing campaign. "This was our winning offer out of the three that were tested in the 2003 campaign. It encourages multiple sales and trials of lesser-known titles.

"Canadians are not generally aware that there are so many Canadian magazines available. This provides an opportunity to increase that awareness and offer these titles at great savings."

In both English and French markets 1.3 million packages are being distributed, using addressed and unaddressed admail, newspaper insertion and magazine outserts. The direct response ads (donated by participating Magazines Canada member titles and members of regional magazine associations) will direct consumers to the campaign website. The campaign is being financially supported by
the Government of Canada through the Canada Magazine Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Ontario Media Development Corporation, Canada Post, Cornerstone Group of Companies and over 150 Canadian magazine publishers.

Quote, unquote

Magazines that are prospering now offer an environment that cannot be replicated online. You cannot open your browser and have an experience akin to the September issue of Vogue, with its hundreds of pages of brutally trendy ads mixed in with aspirational articles. The thingness of a magazine, its physical properties, have become increasingly important.
-- from a New York Times article by David Carr, its media columnist (carried in the Globe and Mail yesterday)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Raffi writes to Mr. Rogers:
Just say no to kiddie cellphones

Raffi, the well-known children's songwriter and performer (and composer of "Bananaphone"), has written a letter to Ted Rogers, the Chairman of Rogers Communications, and head of the wireless and magazine publishing empire (Maclean's, Chatelaine, Canadian Business etc.), pleading with him not to market cell phones to children.

The text of the letter was published in a California blog. We have confirmed this with Raffi Cavoukian's office. The letter says, in part:

Your company's recent decision to market cellphones to those as young as eight is regrettable. Not only is there the matter of ethics, first and foremost, there's also the risk to children posed by these costly devices, which could become tools by which corporations can 'reach' kids. Today's assurances that these phones are 'protected' can't be guaranteed for long, as more and more companies join the junior cell phone gold rush and offer new 'features' to secure market share.

There's enough fear mongering at present without scaring families into purchases they don't need. The fear used in advertising costly phones to kids (and their parents) in the guise that the kids might be safer is deplorable. And how should families feel that can't afford cellphones? No doubt, cellphones for preteens has been thoroughly focus-grouped. But the idea lacks integrity, and it lacks wisdom.

Ted, now's the time to be a true hero and say NO to advertising to kids, for any reason. Call a meeting of your shareholders and scrap the cellphones for kids idea. Say it's wrong. Show us that Rogers won't join the corporate gang that targets kids, that Rogers will be a leader and will respect the rights of children and families not to be exploited.

Canada Wide's TV Week picks up some valuable pieces from the TV Guide closure

One of the beneficiaries of the Transcon's discontinuation of the print edition of TV Guide was TV Week, the magazine published by Canada Wide Media of Vancouver. According to a story in mastheadonline (sub requ'd), Canada Wide negotiated a deal to attempt to fulfill the remaining issues of some 25,000 TV Guide subscribers and only 400 of them cancelled rather than take up the offer (leaving TV Guide to refund their money). The deal with Transcon also included access to 25,000 lapsed subs, though there's no word on how many of those Canada Wide has been able to convert. Regardless, it will be big boost for TV Week's current 43,500 subscriber pool.

Fables and journalism students II

There has been some considerable talk about the earlier item pointing readers to the essay purported to be by a former journalism student, saying she had cheated her way through assignments, making many of them up.

I should reiterate that the reference to Ryerson was my own speculation and has since been made unlikely, given a few clues I didn't pick up on in the story. Further speculation, by others, is that if the story is true at all, the school referred to may be Concordia, or Carleton. Other comments have been to the effect that the writer may have been fudging various facts to cover her tracks. Or, as I say, it may be a complete fiction.

But most interesting is that some people involved in journalism teaching acknowledge that there is cheating, that a good deal of it isn't caught (and consequences are mild, even if it is) and that many students simply shrug about it. Further, that this merely exacerbates a culture of "cut and paste" plagiarism and sloppy attribution that is fairly wisespread in higher education. (In one hilarious example relayed to me, a student faked radio news reports, which required collaboration and conspiracy -- almost more work than it would have taken to simply do the job properly!)

Warning: may contain nipples!

A classic case of getting a lemon and making lemonade: Maisonneuve magazine's current issue is polybagged because of the overheated sensibilities of Chapters magazine buyers concerning some nudity.

In the winter of 2003 the magazine ran a tasteful photograph of performance art by Italian artist Vanessa Beercroft in the back of our Sex and Death issue -- several naked women either standing or sitting, and clearly identified as art. But the U.S. chain Barnes and Noble pulled the magazine off their shelves and put them in poly bags.

About to run some photos in its current issue, accompanying a feature about a stripper, and not wanting to repeat the 2003 experience, Maisonneuve asked the advice of its distributors LMPI; their rep didn't see a problem, but noted that Chapters might demur. (The company now demands that all the "gaming titles" be poly-bagged due to the ads in the back.) Sure enough, when the magazine were shipped, Chapters pulled the magazine out of the promotion and demanded that they be polybagged, delaying their arrival on the newsstand.

"We figured that since we had to poly-bag the issue we wanted to get as much attention to the magazine as possible," said Deborah Brewster, the business manager for Maisonneuve. "So, we decided to place a large sticker across the front alerting consumers of the material inside." (In case you can't read all the image, it says: "Danger: Witty, stylish, thought-provoking material inside* -- and in smaller type "*Oh, and a few nipples.")

It was a cheeky move and it will be some time before the results are in. But it seems likely that the polybag will not only intrigue potential readers, but may also increase sales. Better if it hadn't happened, but also quite encouraging to see there's a way to respond to such lame and silly diktats.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Quebecor World shutters
Quebec printing plant

Quebecor World is immediately closing one of its Quebec magazine printing plants, resulting in the loss of 155 jobs; work from the L'Eclaireur facility in Beauceville, Quebec will be consolidated into Quebecor's 7 other plants in Quebec, employing approximately 2,000 employees printing magazines, catalogs, retail inserts and directories.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Back to the future for Playback

Playback, the film and television production trade magazine, is making significant changes, splitting out its breaking news coverage into a daily online newsletter linked to a redesigned website and focussing the magazine (which will still appear every two weeks) more on features and opinion. The creation of the newsletter hearkens back to an earlier time when Playback subscribers received a twice-a-week newsletter by fax.

"This new outlet for our coverage will enable Playback to respond more quickly to events than we have been able with our biweekly publication schedule," said editor Mark Dillon. "Longtime readers will recognize the newsletter as a direct descendant of First Take, a twice-weekly newsletter initially sent out to Playback subscribers via fax, later migrating to e-mail. A number of industry decision-makers lamented the phasing out of First Take, and the nearest we've had since is the Playback Preview (which may have linked you to this column), an e-mail which gives readers an early taste of some of the top stories coming up in our next print edition."

Playback, with a circulation of about 10,000 copies, serves the production, broadcasting and interactive media communities in Canada and is published by Brunico Communications, which also publishes Strategy, a trade magazine for the advertising industry.

The first newsletter comes out January 22; the redesigned magazine comes out in February.


100 Years of magazine covers

We've all had the experience of looking at a five- or ten-year old magazine and being surprised at how old-fashioned it looks. For instance, I was looking at the Golden Anniversary issue of Esquire published in December, 1983 and was amazed at how dated the layouts were, at the continuing excellence in illustration. I laughed out loud at times (mostly at the ads for such things as the then-brand-new personal computers).

Black Dog Publishing of Britain has published 100 Years of Magazine Covers, a book likely to create similar amazement and amusement. Written by Steve Taylor and designed by Neville Brody, it has images ranging through the history of Vogue, Life, Time, The New Yorker, Mayfair, as well as more subversive publications such as Oz and Sniffing Glue. A real chronicle of popular culture on both sides of the Atlantic.
"If you pick up a copy of this week’s Heat magazine in 30 years time, think how funny it will seem," says the Black Dog website. "Our obsession with D list celebrities’ private lives, weight loss and reality TV shows, will become ridiculous in the light of tomorrow’s trends.

"Magazines provide us with snapshots of moments in cultural history. Their disposable nature means that they have to sell quickly, and their covers vie for attention on the shelves with images of beauty, sex, shock, humour and celebrity; presenting our fears, desires and aspirations crudely and honestly. When looked at retrospectively, they become fascinating documents that can tell us more about our past self-image than any academic text."
Nominally $59.95 in Canada (£29.95 in the U.K.), is offering the book for $37.77 (plus shipping) as a pre-order (the book will be released here May 1).

Thanks to Design Edge Canada for the heads-up on this publication.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Deadline looms for
National Magazine Awards entries

Next Wednesday, January 10 is the final deadline for submissions to the National Magazine Awards. You can find out more at the National Magazine Awards Foundation website.

Fables and the journalism students
who tell them

For those who may not have seen it, a friend points out the fascinating article in the current issue of Maisonneuve, written by a former Ryerson University journalism student [UPDATE: the story didn't specify the school; consensus now is that it was probably not Ryerson but Carleton or some other school], confessing how she faked many of her reporting and writing assignments. Entitled Confessions of a Teenage Fabulist, it details how, from her first assignment at the start of her second year, she went on to hand in (and get good marks on) features and news stories that were, in whole or in part, made up.
In total, I wrote nearly a dozen fraudulent stories over two semesters, sticking to soft news and human-interest pieces. I often drew upon my social life for inspiration, “covering” local events I attended and imaginatively filling in the blanks instead of doing actual background research. My stories were pithy and concise, just like we’d been taught, earning me the straight-A average required to stay in the program. Each time a fake story was handed back to me with praise, I was both pleased and stunned that I had gotten away with it again. I guess it would have been impossible for one professor to fact-check almost one hundred student stories every week; we were, it seems, working on the honour system.
Ultimately, "Kate Jackson" (not her real name) dropped out of the journalism program, to the chagrin of her professors.
My decision was partly practical: this constant creative writing was taking its toll on my other courses. But the other reason—you may find this hard to believe—was principle. I had been passing off lies as authentic news for months, with no repercussions. For me, journalism school and the degree it promised had lost their aura of authority. Creatively appropriating the reporting techniques I’d been taught made me start to reconsider just how trustworthy they really were....

I realized later that I’d never been fully invested in journalism as a career. It sounded prestigious and exciting in the brochure, but once there, I chafed at the tedium of precise detail and impersonal language. I wanted to write to change how people saw their world, but my heart wasn’t in the news.
Of course, given the anonymous nature of the article and the untraceable and, ultimately, unprovable assertions, one has to wonder whether the article itself is fiction in whole or in part. Which is just the kind of slippery territory that such behaviour gets us into.

Common Ground carries column
by dismissed writer

Common Ground, a Vancouver-based health and wellness magazine carries an article by a woman who it says was fired as a freelance monthly columnist for the Western Producer. for attending a rally in support of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Further, an accompanying editor's note connects some dots between the agribusiness firms most likely to benefit from the demise or neutering of the Wheat Board and the B.C. company which now controls many of Canada's trade and farm magazines.

In her Common Ground article, in the January issue, Wendy Holm, describes the steps by which the Wheat Board has been brought to heel by the Minister of Agriculture, Chuck Strahl.
"For absolutely no good reason and a lot of very bad ones, BC’s own Chuck Strahl, minister of agriculture and, ironically, minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, has taken dead aim at the CWB, placing the future of prairie farmers and the communities they serve at risk," the article says
The Editor's note accompanying the article said Holm was dismissed following her participation in the July 27 pro-Wheat-Board farmer rally in Saskatoon. "Holm was there at her own expense as a concerned agrologist. She attended the minister’s 6 PM media conference as a freelance columnist for the Western Producer, and asked if he was prepared to move without a grower plebiscite.

"The column she wrote and filed concerning the events of July 27 never appeared in the Producer. It was printed in Common Ground magazine September 2006. Ironically, her [earlier] February 9 Western Producer column Dual Desk Is Code for Disaster won her a 2006 national journalism award from the Canadian Farm Writers and Broadcasters in September.
"It is important to note that the Western Producer is wholly owned by Glacier Ventures, a VSE company initially formed to export bottled water. Glacier Ventures now owns the bulk of Western Canada’s farm and community newspapers. Agricore United’s CEO sits on the Glacier board. Agricore United stands to profit greatly from the demise of the Canadian Wheat Board. Archer Daniels Midland is Agricore United’s major shareholder."
Glacier Ventures International not only owns a great many farm and community papers, it bought a large package of trade titles that had for been part of the Business Information Group at the disintegrating Hollinger.

Common Ground is a controlled circulation monthly, distributing about 68,000 copies throughout British Columbia. It is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Don't want an ad? Can I sell you an event?

Sobe News--the Miami-based publisher of 11 regional luxury magazines including Ocean Drive and Atlanta --has created a parallel strategic marketing group to serve advertisers that aren't interested in advertising in luxury magazines. This, according to a story in MediaDaily News.

This is not that much different, except in scale, from the line extensions that most magazines do (trade shows, event management, selling list access). But it is more audacious and more upfront, acknowledging that magazines know things and have skills and capabilities that are valuable way beyond selling on-page ads and access to readers.

The Luxury Branding Agency's first client is the National Football League, which has hired the agency to integrate a variety of marketing programs into its season-opening in Miami on Feb 4. It's the kind of event not normally associated with the upscale magazines Sobe New publishes, according to Lana Bernstein, who heads the group.

Bernstein says the problem with magazines is that a company has to advertise in them to gain access to all the top-line people and events. Some brands' target demo might not be the high-end niche that Ocean Drive serves, but they still crave those connections.

"We know all the VIPs, the pacemakers" in places like Miami and Atlanta," Bernstein says. "Everyone has an open door for us."


Independent Press Association folds

Suddenly, in San Francisco, from causes related to operating a newsstand system, The Independent Press Association (IPA) in the U.S. has died.

A notification to its members and directors December 27 attributed it directly to the brutal realities and the consequent indebtedness incurred by trying to run an alternative distribution system for independent magazines in the hairy and competitive U.S. market. Essentially, it was unable to raise enough money to pay its members the money they were owed from net sold copies.

The organization will be liquidated and its assets distributed to its creditors. Several of the IPA's charitable operations, including New York Grassroots Media Project, the George Washington Williams Fellowship, the Campus Journalism Project and the George Washington Williams Fellowship and Campus Journalism Project, may continue as separate, independent not for profit charities.

The closure of IPA will be a blow not only to the few Canadian member magazines but also to all independent publishers who felt that its model was something that the Canadian industry should have been emulating. Magazines Canada maintains its own, robust and apparently successful, subsidized, independent distribution system on behalf of its many smaller members. Without it, many of them simply wouldn't be able to have single copy sales. So, ironically, independents in Canada now have a system that is essentially unavailable to their U.S. counterparts.

In 2006, IPA entered into a partnership with Disticor Newsstand Services to assume responsibility for distributing Indy Press Newsstand titles and it seems Disticor expects to negotiate arrangements with the existing individual clients. In an April 2006 newsletter, the parnership was said to provide the funding necessary to allow the Indy Press to pay publishers for past due amounts owed. Essentially, the IPA had been robbing Peter to pay Paul for years.
"In 2001, IPA entered a very harsh newsstand market and attempted for five years to provide an effective alternative for independent publishers to get the kind of distribution services commonly enjoyed by large, mainstream magazines," the IPA board said to its members. "Despite our best efforts, we were unable to make it work in such a difficult climate.

"The board is extremely sad that the IPA has had to close shop and that the organization can no longer play its important role in the independent press sector. But we have enormous faith in the power of independent ideas and are confident that independent publishers will continue to publish, survive, and even thrive as long as there are citizens who care about freedom of speech and thought."
The receiver appointed to liquidate the organization is Uecker & Associates at (415) 362-3440.

In addition to operating a newsstand system, IPA published useful practical guides, operating a revolving loan fund, held a well-liked annual conference and championed many other aspects of independent publishing for its members.