Friday, June 29, 2007

National Magazine Awards still and moving photo gallery

The National Magazine Awards has posted a flurry of pix from the awards reception and the presentation and has also posted a webshow.

Quebecor asks court to forbid Osprey Media from accepting higher bid

Quebecor Inc. is asking the courts to forbid Osprey Media Income Fund from considering or dealing with takeover bids from anyone else. This is aimed directly at the Torstar-backed bid by Black Press Ltd. of Victoria to up the ante for the Osprey newspapers and magazines; it topped the Quebecor bid by $1 a unit. Quebecor's application will be heard -- and defended -- at the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto on July 4.

Quebecor, which had at one point entered into an agreement with Torstar to carve up Osprey between them, says it believes that once Osprey accepted their bid at $7.25 a unit, they were at a standstill and unable to deal with anyone else (something that Osprey unitholders might disagree with when faced with an $8.25 offer from Black Press).

Osprey says its deal with Quebecor contains the customary provision that it could accept higher, unsolicited bids in certain circumstances. Clearly, Quebecor thinks this bid is not so much unsolicited as payback from the jilted Torstar (see earlier posts).

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Tobacco ads may be coming back
to Canadian magazines

A ruling against the tobacco industry in the Supreme Court may mean that tobacco advertising, missing from magazines for years (a ban held partly responsible for the final demise pf the so-called weekend "roto" magazines like Today) may re-emerge, according to a story in the Globe and Mail.

In striking down the tobacco industry's appeal to remove an advertising ban yesterday, the Supreme Court actually opened the door to new advertising spending by clarifying its earlier restrictions.

Those clarifications prompted a lawyer for Imperial Tobacco to predict millions of advertising dollars will now be spent on behalf of the industry.

The companies are allowed to advertise in places where only people over the age of 18 are permitted, meaning bars and casinos are now fertile advertising grounds for cigarette makers. Magazines whose readerships are more than 85 per cent adult can also run tobacco ads.

However, the ads can only showcase the product - they can't market a lifestyle or use any approach that would make cigarettes or cigars appealing to minors.

A lawyer for the law firm representing the tobacco companies said a likely ad would show the product and perhaps highlight that it was Canadian-made.

"You're not going to see TV ads, you're not going to see billboards or radio spots. What you're going to see is print ads in very limited areas," said Simon Potter, a lawyer with McCarthy Tétrault.

The court decision was hailed by the Canadian Cancer Society for not overturning the previous bans on advertising. However, Rob Cunningham, a lawyer for the society, said the new cigarette ads are troubling and may come as a shock to the public after so many years of the industry not advertising.

"I think the public is going to be very surprised to see something they haven't experienced in years," Mr. Cunningham said.

Ad industry officials say it's uncertain where the dollars will flow. While magazines and newspapers must have at least 85 per cent of their readers over the age of 18 to run ads, how those readership numbers are tabulated and accounted for is unclear.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ontario Tory leader Tory says he'd prohibit
Food & Drink from selling ads

Of course it is pre-election time, but the Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory has made a commitment that, if elected, he would prohibit the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) and its magazine Food and Drink from competing with the private sector for the sale of magazine advertising. He made the statement as part of a wider announcement about arts and culture support that the Tories are promising.

According to Magazines Canada, the LCBO presently captures nearly 40% of all branded beverage alcohol advertising in Canada and its magazine has the 20th largest advertising revenues of all Canadian magazines. In 2005 alone, their revenues increased by 26% to nearly $12 million. Despite being distributed in Ontario alone, LCBO is now the 10th largest magazine publisher (by circulation) in Canada.

"This is a welcomed step," said Magazines Canada CEO Mark Jamison of the Conservative pledge. " The LCBO, a government monopoly, competes unfairly with Ontario magazines; the majority of which are small enterprises that depend on advertising revenues."

In a story in the Ottawa Citizen, Tory accused the LCBO of "muscling wholesalers into buying ads in its bi-monthly publication, Food and Drink, while the magazine industry struggles with U.S. competition."

"They use inducements and deals with respect to shelf space in the liquor stores, which are government owned, to, in effect, put together deals that the private sector can't match," he said. "I don't think it is right when we have people starting up magazines, to have a government financed monopoly out there selling advertising, competing with them, when that magazine is paid for, in effect, by taxpayers' money."

But a spokesman for the LCBO disagreed with Mr. Tory's assumption that the industry's advertising dollars would necessarily flow into other Canadian magazines.

(It's worth noting that a lawsuit based on a similar situation continues to crawl through the courts in Nova Scotia between Saltscapes magazine and the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, which started a similar magazine and rolled it out to the rest of the Atlantic provinces, in direct competition with the private sector.)

Tory's arts and culture plan includes the promise of a three year funding commitment to arts institutions and major attractions such as Caribana and the Stratford and Shaw Festivals and to major institutions such as the Art Gallery of Ontario.

In addition he said their plan included:
  • making provision for taxpayers to make a voluntary contribution on their tax forms to an Ontario Arts and Culture Fund;
  • introducing legislation to protect child actors;
  • introducting an Ontario Youth and Culture Passport that would allow youth access to cultural institutions across the province; and
  • aggressively seeking federal support for tax-relief of full-time artists.
"If we want our arts and culture sectors to be leaders, then government itself must be a leader,"
said Tory.

Finkle subpoena in Baltovich case quashed as "a fishing expedition"

Derek Finkle, lately the editor of Toro magazine (or is that, the editor of the late Toro?) has won his case in court to quash a Crown subpoena for all his notes made in pursuit of his 1998 book No Claim to Mercy about the murder of Elizabeth Bain, in 1990. Prosecutors wanted to use Finkle's research as preparation for the retrial of Robert Baltovich, accused of murdering Bain in 1990 (she was his girlfriend). That retrial is to begin this fall. The notes and tapes included interviews with key witnesses in the case and material directly from Baltovich, including a prison memoir and Christmas cards to Finkle as well as letters to the editor written in response to an article about the case.

Baltovich was convicted of second degree murder and served 8 years before being paroled in 2000 because his defence team convinced the court that new information pointed to the possibility of his innocence and to the convicted murderer Paul Bernardo instead.

In his ruling, according to a CBC story, Judge David Watt said that the subpoena was "a fishing expedition".

The Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) have said how pleased they are that the subpoena, which Finkle was opposing vigorously (with much support from the magazine and writing community generally), was quashed.

Message from participants in magazine conferences: kiss and make up

[NOTE: This post has been updated.] We promised to report on the results of the online questionnaire, asking readers to give their views about the two magazine conferences that took place this past month -- Magazines University and MagNet: Canada's Magazine Conference.

According to the latest information available, the attendance at the two conferences was:
  • Magazines University (according to the Mastheadonline website):
    • 1,348 unique registrants
    • 2,611 registrations for seminars and events
  • MagNet (according to a bulletin from Magazines Canada, which said the details had been approved by its board of directors):
    • 692 unique registrants
    • 2,518 registrations for seminars and events
To reiterate: this questionnaire was put up by the Canadian Magazines blog without the support, or even approval, of Magazines Canada, Masthead magazine, the Canadian Business Press, Circulation Marketing Association of Canada or any of the other partners and associates of the two conferences.

This is more of a straw poll; a self-selecting sample and shouldn't be considered representative in any way of the wider industry or even those in attendance at the conferences.

Still, the responses and comments are interesting and may be useful in any post mortems by both organizing teams and in assessing what happens next.

Copies of the survey's summary results were sent to both Magazines Canada and to Masthead (through whom it was shared with the Canadian Business Press) and these representatives of both conferences declined to comment directly about the questionnaire.

[UPDATE] Mark Jamison, the President of Magazines Canada said: ""We appreciate any feedback and will review it in the context of all the member and sponsor consultations we are beginning now as we prepare for MagNet 2008 June 4-6". And on behalf of Masthead and the Canadian Business Press Masthead Publisher Doug Bennet said: "We are not ready to comment on the survey at this time. We have a post-mortem meeting scheduled for July 11 with all the Mags U partners (including the audit boards) at which we will confirm the final numbers and formally evaluate this year's show."[END UPDATE]

[Fair disclosure: I write a column for Masthead and have given seminars in the past for Magazines University. I also do consulting work for Magazines Canada, sit on their professional development committee and was a moderator at three panels presented this year at MagNet.]

Survey summary
  • There were 59 surveys completed.
  • Of the 52 respondents who gave their postal codes, 73% were from the greater Toronto area, 17% from southern Ontario, 4% from Montreal, 2% from Ottawa, 2% from Manitoba and 2% from Alberta.
  • 41% worked in editorial, 36% in management, 20% in circulation, 9% in advertising, 2% in production
  • 32% worked at a consumer magazine, 9% at a trade magazine, 5% were custom publishers
  • 13% were suppliers, 11% were conference sponsors
  • Of those, 19% attended Mags U, 43% MagNet, 30% attended both and 8% attended neither.
  • 74% who attended Mags U and 65% who attended MagNet said overall experience of the conferences was Excellent or Very good
Asked for their opinion of various specific aspects, the answers were:
  • Location (Excellent or Very good): Mags U, 87%; MagNet, 80%
  • Price of events (Excellent or Very Good): Mags U, 88%; MagNet, 93%
  • Quality of presentation (Excellent or Very Good): Mags U, 89%; MagNet, 80%
  • Opportunity for networking (Excellent or Very Good): Mags U, 89%; MagNet, 69%
  • Asked to select statements that most closely represented their views about the two conferences, the answers were as follows:
    • I cannot afford the TIME to attend two different conferences: 72%
    • This industry is too small to sustain two conferences: 53%
    • I cannot afford the COST of attending two different conferences: 53%
    • It seems to me to be confusing to have two conferences: 44%
    • There should be only one conference and it should be MagNet: 26%
    • There should be only one conference and it should be Mags U: 18%
    • I appreciate having a choice of conferences: 14%

      Open-ended comments
    • As I'm based in Toronto, it isn't a problem for me, but I can see how people from the rest of the country would appreciate having one conference as they are pretty much forced into picking only one.
    • There are some things at Mags U that I would have liked to attend but couldn't possibly go to both conferences. It seems to me to be the height of absurdity to have two conferences. Surely there must be a way to solve whatever the conflict is and return to one conference.
    • Perhaps if one was immediately after the other, there'd be more opportunity for folks from out of town to still attend both.
    • The length of courses at MagNet is far too short (75 minutes) and only offers a glossing over [of] the course curriculum.
    • It is too obvious that these conferences are competing with each other. More cooperation please.
    • I would much rather one conference that ran longer, perhaps for a full week. I don't mind that there are two, but it makes sense to me that by combining efforts there would be opportunity to offer a broader variety of sessions as well as increased discounts for attendees.
    • The downtown location of MagNet puts it on the top of my list.
    • I have to come in from Montreal. Unless all the events -- including the NMAs-- are held in the same week, I cant really afford to attend. A Magazine Week that leads up to the NMAs is the most reasonable solution. Now, can we get folks to work together?
    • Kiss and make up!
    • It would be nice if they weren't so close together. I think a coordinated effort to support a Spring and a Fall conference would ensure a viable plan for all entities involved. We sent an employee to one session at MagsU because they couldn't attend MagNet and they enjoyed it.
    • A larger, combined conference should have the financial resources to bring in top quality speakers who will benefit both the trade and consumer sides.
    • MagNet brings together the consumer magazine press in Canada. Looking at who was at the Thursday lunch, virtually anyone who is anyone in the business was there. Hard to discount that.
    • The pre-conference email newsletter became VERY annoying after awhile. Getting 2-3 emails from each conference each week was a bit excessive. It made me want to dump both events.
    • Business and consumer magazines have different needs. Why not hold them in the same location, during one week, with half the time devoted to business mag concerns and half devoted to consumer.
    • Only one.
    • To be of true service, the parties behind MagNet and Mags U should kiss, make up and focus on putting together the best conference they can -- content, content, content.
    • If there must be two, then don't schedule them to run so close together.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Scream kicks off with Matrix launch and two challenging panels

The Scream Literary Festival, now in its 15th year, is hosting two inspiring events in Toronto as part of its July 3 to 9th run. "As always," they say, "the festival reaches its boiling point with The Scream in High Park, Canada's largest single-night outdoor reading, on July 9."

(Both events may be interesting not only to literary and cultural magazine publishers but also to their hard-pressed poetry contributors.)
  • One event is a panel, moderated by Clive Thompson (former editor of This Magazine, now a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine) called "Strange Alchemy: the Science and Poetry Panel." Panellists include Christian Bök, angela rawlings, Ken Babstock and postdoctoral candidate, Lisa Betts (who is studying the neuroscience of vision at York). It's being held Wednesday, July 4 at the Supermarket, 268 Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market at 7 p.m. The panel is followed at 9 p.m. with a launch of the newest issue of the Montreal-based magazine Matrix magazine, with readings by the panel members.
  • The other event is a panel discussing the state of poetry criticism called "Under the Microscope", to be held at Tinto, 89 Roncesvalles Avenue at 3 p.m. The panel includes New York Times critic David Orr, music critic and creator Carl Wilson, and poets Elizabeth Bachinsky and Damian Rogers, discussing why poetry is missing from popular critical consciousness. The panel is moderated by Toronto writer Marianne Apostolides and will question whether the lack of conversation about poetry is due to a failure of critics, not a failure of poets.


Osprey Media Income Fund still in play and the price keeps going up

The sale of newspaper and magazine company Osprey Media Income Fund looked like a slam dunk for Quebecor Media, leaving a bruised Torstar group sulking in the corner. Torstar and Quebecor have been squabbling about who did what to whom and about whether or not they had a deal to split up the Osprey properties, which include well-known dailies like the St. Catharines Standard and the Kingston Whig-Standard.

Now, through its subsidiary, Black Press of Vancouver, Torstar has topped Quebecor's bid by $1 a unit or $404.5 million compared to Quebecor's offer of $355.5 million. (Torstar owns 19.4% of Black Press.

A story in the Toronto Star says Quebecor has until July 5 to better that offer. All of which is good news for the unitholders of the Osprey Trust, but only goes so far. When it was first created the Osprey units went for $10. Even the richer Black Press offer only brings this to $8.25.

Quebecor is now crying foul, saying that Osprey had a "standstill agreement" that prevented it from seeking other buyers. Osprey says that's nonsense.

Whatever happens, a whole stable of mid-sized newspapers and magazines (including the former Town Media Group (Hamilton magazine etc.)) will be subsumed inside one or the other of Canada's print media giants.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Scientific American gives its redesigned July issue away as a download

The venerable magazine Scientific American has redesigned and is offering is July issue free as a download to let potential readers see what they've done. You only have five days to get the dowload by going here.

Editor-in-chief John Rennie says that they've kept all that's good (what redesigning editor doesn't say this, mind you?) and made some substantial improvements.
"...mindful of the demands on the attentions of today's busy readers, we have repackaged those articles to make the information they contain more understandable and to spell out more clearly their relevance to current affairs. Every article begins with a Key Concepts box or an Editors' Introduction that summarizes the text's major points and provides useful context for the expert author's narrative. Strong informational graphics bring the explanations to life. Sidebars and boxes elaborate on essential details. (Not enough time to read an article in its entirety? Then try scanning the Key Concepts, illustrations and sidebars as a quick guide to an article's messages.)
The magazine is also putting more and more emphasis on its website and the integration and complementarity of its print and online content


Taking a summer plunge on digi-mags at Time Inc.

"It's just a nice, fun bonus that we're offering our consumer."
-- Time Inc. group publisher Paul Caine, referring to the digital online "one-shot test" edition of People magazine.
A story in Ad Age says that Time Inc. executives are keeping expectations low about the test because no one knows how well such digital initiatives will do. (A lot of people working for the corporation are wondering, since the investment meant a lot of people lost their jobs on the traditional print side.) Time Inc. has shunted a good deal of its resources into developing these initiatives for several of its titles.

Beginning today, 1.2 million subscribers to People will be getting e-mails this week with links to the new digital edition. (Note: it loads very slowly both because of its size and probably because so many people are going online at once to look at it.)
The 30-page digi-mag starts with an animated cover in which dolphins leap out of the water behind a bathing suit-clad Beyonce Knowles while a "Plus: Matthew McConaughey On The Beach!" tease floats up and down. Surf sounds play in the background. Editorial spreads allow consumers to watch movie trailers, tool through McConaughey photos, try different accessories on a mannequin wearing an Ella Moss dress and play with the advertising. Buffering delays are eliminated by loading the issue all at once.

People's staff designed most of the creative elements but worked with a digital-magazine production company called Blogform Digital Magazines to get the issue built. Unlike magazines digitally reproduced on systems such as Zinio, there's no software to install, there's a different soundtrack for every page, ads are interactive far beyond clickable URLs and all the content is original.
Industry observers are taking a wait and see attitude.
"This thing could pan out or it could be a dismal flop that they learn something from," said Brad Adgate, senior VP-director of research at Horizon Media. "This could be a template for future initiatives or this could be something along the lines of New Coke."

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Not for profit mags in Ontario need to look at proposed changes

Many smaller magazines operate in Ontario as not-for-profit corporations. It will be of interest to them that the Ontario government's Ministry of Government Services is undertaking a public consultation on the renovation and reform of the Ontario Corporations Act. It has possible implications and magazine publishers may wish to read the government's discussion document and make comments before the deadline of July 31.

Among the possibilities being considered are:
  • Streamlining of the laborious "letters patent" process into an "as of right" system
  • Listing and defining specified purposes for not-for-profit incorporation
  • Regulating "for profit" activities carried on by "not for profit" corporations
  • Creating classes of not-for-profit corporations rather than having one size fit all
  • Possibly protecting offices and directors of not-for-profit corporations from liability or capping liability
  • Mandating certain kinds of financial disclosure
  • Changing or enhancing legal remedies provided for members of a not-for-profit corporation
[UPDATE: A friend reminds us that federal corporations would not be affected. Many magazine companies incorporate provincially because federal incorporation means you have to file both federally and with the province where you're headquartered and because it is somewhat more expensive to incorporate federally. If you want to learn more about federal incorporation, you can do so at the Corporation Canada website.]


Wired frames 5,000 subscribers

The first 5,000 subscribers to Wired magazine who responded to an offer in its April issue are now receiving a personalized July issue -- personalized, that is, with their picture on the cover. According to a New York Times story, Wired, in partnership with Xerox, invited readers to upload their pictures to a web site; it appears on the cover of the issues with the headline "You Are Here". The cover story is about the increasing personalization of the online world.
Wired, which is owned by Condé Nast, publicized the promotion to its subscribers via e-mail, magazine inserts and on its Web site. And while the Xerox name is not on the covers themselves, the promotions and web site made clear that the project depended on software from Xerox and the company’s iGen3 110 digital production press.

Neither Xerox nor Condé Nast would disclose costs, but since neither had to farm tasks out to third parties, both say it was not very expensive.

“We didn’t make money on this, but it really didn’t cost anything,” said Drew Schutte, vice president and publishing director of Wired Media.

Magazine and newspaper trade deficit with U.S.has grown 18% since 2000

Canada's balance of trade deficit with the United States in newpapers and periodicals (magazines are not broken out separately) has grown by 18% since 2000, according to a report released by Statistics Canada.

Imports of newspapers and periodicals were $982 million in 2000 and had increased to $1.07 billion in 2006, an increase of almost 10%.

Exports of newspapers and periodicals were $243 million in 2000 and fell to $204 million in 2006, a drop of 16%.

Statistics Canada reports that the country's deficit in the trade of all culture goods - mostly books, periodicals and films - grew last year to its largest level since 1999.

Written and published works represented 3/4 of every dollar spent on U.S. cultural imports in 2006.

Canada imported $3.9 billion worth of culture goods from the world, a 3.2 per cent drop from 2005.

At the same time, exports fell 12.7 per cent to $2.1 billion, the third consecutive decline.

The trade deficit rose to $1.8 billion from $1.7 billion in 2005.

Most of the deficit was with the United States, with China running a distant second.

The deficit with the United States grew by $236 million to nearly $1.2 billion, mainly because of a sharp drop in exports.

Writing and published works represented nearly three-quarters (73%) of all the culture goods imported into Canada in 2006.

Imports of books, newspapers and periodicals and other printed matter grew $25.8 million in 2006 to $2.8 billion. Items such as technical, scientific and professional books, text books for school, art and pictorial books, journals, periodicals and cards are included in this culture category.

The trade in culture goods were largely to the United States, China, France and the United Kingdom, says the data:
  • Canadians imported mainly books and newspapers from the United States. For every $10 of culture goods Canadians imported from the United States, $7.61 were spent on writing and published works, $0.85 on film and video, and $0.58 on advertising. The remainder was spread among sound recordings, photography and original art.
  • Canada's exports to the United States were more diversified. For every $10 of culture goods the United States bought from Canada, $3.80 were spent on books, newspapers and periodicals and other printed material, $2.68 on film and video, and $1.67 on advertising. Photography, sound recordings and visual arts accounted for the rest.
  • For the last six years, imports of culture goods from China have been the second largest, after the United States. In 2006, imports from China increased 5.9% to $295 million, while exports to China rose 3.9% to $13.8 million. Almost half of Canada's imports of culture goods from China were printed books.
  • In 2006, exports to the United Kingdom dropped by almost $31 million from 2005. The value of exports of video, other printed material, newspapers and periodicals, and photography recorded the largest decline. Exports of culture goods to the United Kingdom nevertheless remained the second largest for the seventh consecutive year. Canada exported mainly books and videos to the United Kingdom.
  • Exports to France were the third largest, books accounting for 60% of them.
For the full tables, showing all cultural goods and a breakdown by type, go here.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Geez wins Magazine of the Year in Western Magazine Awards

The iconoclastic Winnipeg religious magazine Geez, edited by Will Braun and Aiden Enns, was named
  • Magazine of the Year for Western Canada
  • Best New Magazine and
  • Magazine of the Year - Manitoba
in the Western Magazine Awards, announced Friday evening in Vancouver. (It should be noted that Geez is on a roll, having won 7 awards from the Canadian Church Press in 2007.)

Jim Sutherland, who is now freelancing after a distinguished run editing Western Living, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Multiple winners were:
  • Blackflash magazine, for Magazine of the Year -- Saskatchewan, as well as for a feature by Danny Bradbury called "Epicentre", which won the Gold Award for Best Article -- Saskatchewan. In addition it won two awards -- the Science, Technology and Medicine category and Arts, Culture and Entertainment -- for "The Seven Pillars of Winnipeg" by Matthew Rankin.
  • Western Living won Gold Award Best Article -- Manitoba for "Water in the Basement" by Jake MacDonald and two awards for "The Beach" by Andrew Struthers: the Gold Award for Best Article, BC/Yukon and the award for Business.
  • Vancouver magazine won for Profile, with "The Healer" by Sylvia Fraser, and for "Meth & Kin" by Colleen Friesen in the Human Experience category
  • Swerve magazine for Service, with "The Wonderfully Compromised Wedding" by Jacquie Moore and Gold Award Best Article -- Alberta/NWT, for "The Macleod Trail Expedition" by Harryt Vandervlist.
  • Color magazine, Best Illustration or Illustration Feature for "A Tour Story" by Ben Tour and Best Art Direction -- Cover, for "Said and Done, Issue 4.4", by Sandra Grison
Other written winners were:
  • Vancouver Review, in Travel and Leisure, for "Sporting Life", by John Moore.
  • Northword, in Regular Column or Department, for "North of Unreal" by Betsy Trumpener.
  • Prairie Fire, in Fiction, for "Jumper" by Stephen Gauer.
  • Alberta Views in Public Issues for "Big Oil on Trial", by Jeremy Klaszus.
Other visual category winners were:
  • The Block, in Best Photograph -- Architectural, Landscape or Still Life for "Knobs" by Alastair Bird.
  • Ion, Best Photographic Feature or Series for "Dead Ringer" by Kate Szatmari.
  • Alberta Views, Best Photograph -- People and Portraiture, for "The Lion-Hearted" by James May
  • Avenue - Calgary for Best Art Direction -- Article, for "Minds for Design" by Anders Knudsen.
Trade magazine of the Year went to Enterprise, Roberta Staley, editor.

Magazine of the Year - Alberta/NWT went to Orange Life, Daniel Gibbons and Susie Hutchinson, editors.

Magazine of the Year - BC/Yukon went to BC Business, Tracy Tjaden, editor. Winners in the four Gold categories receive $1,000 each. This year for the first time, all written and visual category winners will receive $750, up from $500 in recent years.

For a complete list of all the finalists in all categories, please go the awards website.

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Say your piece about mag conferences

Still time for you to give your views about Magazines University and MagNet in our online questionnaire (which closes this Monday). For more details, see post.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Quote, unquote: Dubious web metrics

Next time someone uses web metrics to tell you that print is dead I have some advice. Laugh.
-- John Duncan on his blog Inksniffer
The blog item is about how misleading and slapdash is the use of comparative data about online and print readership. If you can work through the item with Duncan, who was formerly managing editor of The Observer, as he parses data about the respective readership of the Guardian and its online cousin , you may come to similar conclusions.

As Duncan says:
Internet metrics substantially exaggerate the importance of the newspaper web audience. Would you be so keen to abandon print to its fate if you knew that despite 10 years of growth, your web site may only have 30% of the reach of your printed newspaper in the market where you can attract advertisers. And that at current rates of growth and decline it could be 2020 or 2030 before the two are even level with each other?

Carving up Osprey Media turning out messy for Quebecor and Torstar

A cosy deal to carve up the Osprey newspaper and magazine empire seems to have gone badly awry as Torstar Inc. has cried foul about Quebecor Corp.'s purchase of all the assets, including such venerable newspapers as the St. Catharines Standard and the Kingston Whig-Standard and a clutch of magazines.

According to a story in the Globe and Mail, the two conglomerates agreed in late 2005 to divvy up the titles; Quebecor later backed out of the deal, or says it did. But in filings by Quebecor with securities regulators, Torstar is said to be contending that Quebecor didn't terminate the agreement and Torstar continues to have the right to acquire pieces of Osprey. Torstar has refused to comment.
Though Torstar isn't named specifically in the filings, Quebecor confirmed yesterday Torstar is the company referred to as "the Joint Bidder" in the regulatory filings.

The regulatory filings indicate Quebecor chief executive officer Pierre Karl Péladeau and Torstar CEO Rob Prichard sent numerous letters to each other arguing the matter.

"The chief executive officers of the Joint Bidder and [Quebecor] exchanged several letters wherein the Joint Bidder asserted that [Quebecor] had not terminated the 2005 agreement," the documents say.

"In the course of 2006, [Quebecor] considered several new proposals put forward by the Joint Bidder relating to [Osprey], but none of these resulted in any new agreement."

Sources indicate Torstar is arguing that the wording of a letter sent by Quebecor announcing it was pulling out of the agreement suggested the two sides would be working together in the future.

Torstar has interpreted that as an indication the Osprey agreement is still intact.

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Organizing notes from the CFU

Michael OReilly*, the interim president of the Canadian Freelance Union (CFU), has responded to some questions raised on the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers list about the inclusiveness and intentions of the proposed union, still in its formative stage. Freelancer Andrew Clark had some questions about the Southern Ontario Newspaper Guild (SONG) organizing its own freelance union and also about whether the CFU's goals was antithetical to young hopefuls who work for nothing want to "break in" to the business:

Two things of note in OReilly's response:
  • that the Southern Ontario Newspaper Guild (SONG) is trying to put "inclusive language" in its contracts, mostly with the major newspapers, that would require freelancers working for them to be members of CFU and
  • that there is "no restriction on who can work" and getting an assignment somehow "automatically puts you in the union"
I'm sure that those may surprise and puzzle some freelancers who may be sympathetic to the cause of higher fees, but wary and have yet to commit by paying their $25 to help the union reach its goal of a formative annual meeting sometime this fall.

Here's what OReilly wrote:
First off, SONG is not trying to start a freelance union. They are trying to introduce positive freelance language into their existing collective agreements. One key part of this is to ensure that all freelancers must be CFU members. Getting this accomplished would be a key step since it would get us to the bargaining table.

The CFU is not envisioned as a closed organization. Quite the contrary. My vision -- the one being pursued -- is to have the CFU open to every working freelancer. The model is similar to what already happens at the CBC (which is unionized). There is no restriction on who can work. Getting an assignment automatically puts you into the union. Criteria for union membership is working as a freelancer. There is no "shutting out" of anyone, nor is there any attempt to define who is qualified. You qualify by doing.

As for the question of untried writers having to give away their stuff to "break in," this is a crock. As a freelancer, if you have a good story that is right for the market, and you prove (through the query/pitch process) that you can research and write, then you get the assignment. It may be reasonable for an editor AND writer to test out their relationship with a couple of smaller front-of-book items, but the idea that a budding freelancer must expect to get paid shit so they can "build their portfolio" is ridiculous. If it's a good story, done professionally, then it is worth paying for -- every time.

*Yes, he has no apostrophe

Recording becomes an issue at off-the-record truth-telling session

In an earlier post we had told of an event called Non Fiction that was to be held at the Drake Hotel underground on Wednesday last. According to people who were there, most of the "off the record" truth telling by various media types was fairly mild and lame and occasionally puzzling, although former Toro editor Derek Finkle was quite forthcoming*. The following account was on the Professional Writers of Canada (PWAC) website, penned apparently by PWAC executive director, poet and novelist John Degen:
And the tales they told were off the record, so you won't find them repeated here. In fact, one of the most interesting parts of the evening was an impromptu group discussion about the meaning of on and off the record. After several of the speakers had already done their bit, a rumour hit the stage that someone in the crowd was making an audio recording of the event. What followed was a fascinating exercise in social dynamics as some in the room tried to ferret out the secret recorder, while others defended a reporter's right to do background research, even in a room full of media types speaking off the record.

The call from the microphone for the hidden reporter to turn him or herself in took on the feel of a cultural revolution purge before the courageous fellow took to the stage and declared his intentions. What followed was a passionate discussion about press freedoms and responsibilities.
My question is: isn't there something a little weird about a bunch of writers and reporters and producers not only going along with going off the record in the first place, but also standing for someone trying to ferret out people in the crowd who might not be playing by the unenforceable rule? What's one person's "fascinating exercise in social dynamics" may be another person's "scary group-think".

Short of perhaps requiring people to sign a waiver along with their entry fee, I wonder whether "off the record" in the context of a public event can have any meaning in the first place. I will be very surprised if a) someone didn't record it and b) somehow it doesn't find its way onto the internet.

*one of his truths told was that Toronto Life turned down his pitch to write an insider's account of the rise and fall of Toro. Seems a shame.

Canadian internet ad spending to be US$2.033 billion by 2011 says PWC study

The annual global look at entertainment and media by Pricewaterhousecoopers LLC says that internet advertising will grow faster in Canada over the next five years than anywhere else in the world. A report on the study was carried in the Globe and Mail. It says that internet advertising will reach US$2.033 billion by 2011, at a compound annual growth rate of 23.5 per cent.
Canadian ad spending online is being driven by the high percentage of broadband Internet users in Canada, which is higher than in most other parts of the world. Meanwhile, online advertising markets in Canada are not yet as saturated as in the United States.

"We have had higher broadband penetration rates than other countries around the world ... and we're now seeing a bigger shift in advertising revenue," said Tracey Jennings, leader of the entertainment and media practice for PwC in Canada.
Print media growth will be much lower than online, but from a much larger base. Ad spending on magazines is expected to expand at a compound annual rate of 1.8 per cent to $1.5-billion, says PWC. The newspaper industry will see compound annual growth of 1 per cent in that time, to $3.2-billion.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Apple polishing

Knowing what Apple polishers many of you are (are you listening, art departments?) I thought you might enjoy a link to a piece by Jack Shafer in Slate that points out the credulous way the media (and that includes magazines) sucks up to Steve Jobs and anything he talks about.
Apple's latest PR triumph is the rollout of the iPhone, a product that Jobs announced back in January and which reaches stores next week. "iPhone mania nears fever pitch: Anticipation grows for June 29 debut," slobbers today's (June 20) USA Today. The device moved the Chicago Tribune to run a June 16 editorial titled "iLust for iPhone." The June 7 Business Week asks, "How Big Will the iPhone Be?" Answer: It may be a $10 billion business. So calculated is Apple's launch that it got news bumps early this week with the announcement that the iPhone will last three hours longer than originally promised and that it will play YouTube clips. No drop of milk oozes from the Apple teat without a crowd of journalists gathering to swallowing it up.

Maclean's cover subject was slain soldier's favourite pinup

A report on the C News website says that the cover subject for a special university student issue of Maclean's was a favoured pinup for a soldier killed in Afghanistan yesterday (Wednesday).

Sgt Chris Karigiannis wrote what can only be called a fan letter to Maclean's saying that the picture of Kinga Ilyes, a 24-year-old student at the University of Western Ontario (though he didn't know her name at the time), took pride of place in a wall of pictures of women.“Some of the troops in Afghanistan think she is the hottest thing to look at here,” he wrote.

Just two weeks before he and two other soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb, Karigiannis received a letter from Ilyes: “I wish you safety and hope to see you home soon,” she said.

[Photo: Dave Thomas/Sun Media]


Toronto economic development director named president of OMDC

The city of Toronto's director of economic development, Karen Thorne-Stone, has been hired to be the new president and chief executive officer of the Ontario Media Development Corporation, beginning at the end of July.

A release from the agency said Thorne-Stone has been with the city of Toronto for 18 years, where she served in a variety of roles, including film commissioner and playing a leadership role in the amalgamation of 7 municipalities into one megacity.

The appointment continues the domination of OMDC by the film and television industry, though it is responsible for all cultural industries including magazines, books, recording and interactive digital media; the announcement of Thorne-Stone's appointment was by chair Kevin Shea, a broadcaster who was appointed about a year ago.

Thorne-Stone fills the position vacated last August by Michelle Frappier, who left to head up the ultimately failed bid to win Toronto the 2015 world exposition. (The president's chair has been filled on an interim basis by Kristine Murphy, who returns now to her position as director of industrial development.)


Elle Canada editor to judge
designer reality show

Elle Canada editor-in-chief Rita Silvan is to be one of judges showing fashion designers "off the island" in the TV reality show Project Runway Canada. She will share judging duties with designer Shawn Hewson of Bustle Clothing and the host of the show, Iman.

Twelve designers compete for $100,000 to begin their own fashion line and a feature spread showing the survivor's collection in the pages of the magazine. The show is being produced by Insight Production Company Ltd. and is a Canadian adaptation of U.S. series. It premieres on the Alliance Atlantis specialty channel Slice in October.

Transcon takes over Les editions Ma Maison

Transcontinental Media has added six housing and decor magazines and websites in Quebec with its acquisition of Les editions Ma Maison Ltd., according to a story in the Gazette. The flagship of the group is Maison D'aujourd'hui (a long-time competitor of Transcon's Decormag) and it is acquired along with five other housing and decor titles and websites. These are Condo et Loft D'aujourd'hui, Maison Direct, Condo Direct, and Terms were not disclosed.
"This positions us as the leader in the housing (category)," said Francine Tremblay, senior vice-president (consumer publications) for Transcontinental Media.
Tremblay said that she expects many synergies and that the magazines will complement Decormag and Mon chalet.
"Most of [Maision d'aujourd'hui]'s advertisers are not in Decormag and vice versa, so we believe there will be synergies," said Tremblay, who as publisher of Decormag was keenly aware of its rival's strengths. Maison d'aujourd'hui was particularly adept at drawing advertising from builders she said.
Les editions Ma Maison was founded in 1992 by Philippe Masse and has about 20 full-time employees. With the sale, Masse is retiring.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

No online slackers allowed, says Time editor

Time magazine is turning up the heat under its writers and columnists to contribute to as well as the print magazine. The website was re-launched 4 months ago and while editor Richard Stengel says the results have been good, they're not good enough. According to an item carried in Gawker, he sent a memo to all staff that said,in effect,the future of their jobs depended upon it.
As good as is, it still needs to be better. And it still needs more content, much more. A number of our best journalists are writing stories and covering their beats for and the magazine simultaneously, and it gives me pleasure to single some of them out by name: Joe Klein, Jim Poniewozik, Karen Tumulty, Simon Elegant, Richard Corliss, Alex Perry, Bryan Walsh, Sean Gregory, Bobby Ghosh, Massimo Calabresi, Tim McGirk and Bruce Crumley. As you can see, this list includes many of our best traditional magazine journalists, and that's no accident; if you cover a beat or territory with passion and expertise, you can and should cover it any medium.

That list needs to grow. I sent out a memo last week about evaluations. Let me make this explicit: evaluations of every Time writer, correspondent, and reporter will be based on the quality and quantity of the contributions each of you makes to both the magazine and to is a daily responsibility; Time magazine is a weekly responsibility. Time is made up of both.

I suspect that some of you regard writing for as an obligation, and not what you came to Time to do. But times have changed, and we have to change with them. If you care about what you do - and I know you do - then you need to display your talent, your expertise, and your dedication online as well as in the magazine.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Do magazine awards sell ads?

Reptile, the thoughtful but slothful* blogger about magazine advertising, has some views on awards and whether they do any good when it comes to selling ads. Apparently, he's not convinced.

Even we slippery advertising reps like to share the proud moment so we attend the award show and cheer on our team's nomination(s) as if we had something to do with it (hey, if there were no ads, there wouldn't be any award-winning editorial right?). And if our magazine should win something, the media kits and letters glow with pride. We let it slip on any and all sales calls and emails. We use it to support the notion that our book is "quality". This years big winner and Magazine of the Year was The Walrus and its reps wasted little time in issuing the standard propaganda -- "The like us, they really like us. Buy an ad!"

But at the end of the day, what does winning awards really do for us in the advertising trenches? Will The Walrus's big win send its ad sales soaring? Unlikely based on what we have seen in the past. For example:

  • Toro was one of the top winners yet again. Remember Toro?
  • Saturday Night was the winningest magazine of all time. Remember Saturday Night?
  • Explore is always big winner. But are they making money?
  • Maisonneuve was Magazine of the Year in 2005. Great little magazine.

Still, it's always nice to be a winner!

*[We only observe that, before this item, he last posted on May 7]


MoneySense warns of a war on the family and the peril posed by those pesky oldsters

MoneySense magazine's summer issue, now out, features an examination of what it calls a demographic crisis in Canada, where young Canadian families are not having enough children to pay for the expected costs of providing benefits and service to a growing senior population.

Features editor Duncan Hood says that, while young couples say they want to have 2.5 children, they actually are having only 1.5 on average, after looking at the economic realities. And this has implications for all Canadians whether they have children or not.
"A generation ago, it took just one working parent to generate that median household income," he says. "These days it takes two. The current system is brutally unfair because it focuses on income, not wealth."
The article says that, in 2005, the median net worth of couples with children was $189,000. The median net worth of senior couples was more than twice as high, at $443,600. But it's the seniors who get the tax breaks, even though it's the young families who need them.

Slow growth is a problem because many of our social programs - notably Old Age Security and Medicare - were designed back in the days of tail-finned cars and four kids to a family, says the article.
"Both plans raise money by taxing those who are working," Hood reports. "But since Canada's population is aging, fewer and fewer people are working for each retired senior."
Given the dismal math, the federal government will face two ugly options in the decades ahead, says MoneySense. It can reduce benefits or service to the elderly or it can tax the young even more heavily to support the millions of boomers now beginning to retire.

[Of course there will be boomers who could respond that, as they age and retire, they are entitled to the pensions and services they have paid for in good faith their whole working lives.]

Quote, unquote

If the Portfolio people just remember that they should be Vanity Fair for business people, I think they'll do just fine. If they're trying to be like Madonna whimpering "I'm a serious actress," -- well, they'll fail.
-- comment on Gawker, a Manhattan media blog about the much-talked about Portfolio business magazine recently launched by Conde Nast (and about to publish its second issue.)


Two magazine conferences and what you think about them

This has been a busy month in terms of professional development, with two national magazine conferences running back-to-back in Toronto. Just to remind you, they were:
  • Magazines University, which -- until this year -- was a partnership principally between Masthead magazine, Magazines Canada, the Canadian Business Press and the Circulation Management Association of Canada (CMC). This year, for the first time, it was produced by Masthead and the Canadian Business Press only. It consists of a series of seminars, a trade show and various special events such as the Kenneth R. Wilson awards for trade magazines and the Canadian Newsstand Awards. As has been usual in recent years, it was held at the Old Mill Conference Centre in the west end of Toronto. It ran for two days, Tuesday June 5 and Wednesday June 6. The official count of registrations was about 1,300.*
  • MagNet: Canada's Magazine Conference, which this year is a partnership between Magazines Canada and the CMC, who ran a wholly separate conference in downtown Toronto at 89 Chestnut Street. It consists of a series of seminars and a number of special events, including the ACE awards for circulation marketers, the Magazines Canada luncheon honouring the national volunteer of the year, the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors awards dinner and culminated in the National Magazine Awards. It ran for three days, Wednesday June 13 to Friday June 15. The official count of registrations was about 2,400.*
It may be that some people in the industry see these two shows as complementary; or that they will be competitors who keep each other sharp. But there are undoubtedly also people who think that it's a shame that a cooperative approach can't be found to hold one Magazine Week, encompassing both consumer and trade, the industry's two major trade organizations (Magazines Canada and CBP) and its trade magazine, Masthead.

In the interests of assessing the views of those who attended one, or both, conferences and of anyone else with a stake in what happens, including sponsors, an online questionnaire has been prepared by this blog.

(Please note: this is being done without the approval or endorsement -- or even the knowledge -- of either conference or its organizers.)

To complete the questionnaire online, click on this link. It should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. It will remain live until Monday, June 25, at which time the results will be tabulated and published here.

*A reliable, comparable number of registrations, attendees, what have you, is in dispute and unavailable at this time; therefore struck from this post.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

What if, good grief, Conrad Black wins
and comes BACK?!

It is beginning to dawn on some that Conrad Black may be acquitted at his Chicago trial, and then what? A story by Susan Chandler in the Chicago Tribune speculates on what would happen if Lord Black were to return to the Sun-Times group:
It's the worst nightmare for executives at Sun-Times Media Group Inc.: Conrad Black, the company's former chief executive, is acquitted of criminal charges and regains his position as the company's controlling shareholder.

Black once again fills the board with his associates, fires executives who deserted him during his darkest hour and perhaps seeks to be reinstated as CEO. Even if he didn't go that far, Black would still wield veto power over major transactions, such as the sale of the company.

Considering that Black is accused of systematically looting the company, formerly known as Hollinger International Inc., and has a well-deserved reputation for seeking retribution, he is not exactly the kind of guy Sun-Times management wants to bring back into the fold. And for good reason.

"That company is a mess from a corporate governance point of view," said Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University who has been following Black's trial. "If he is found not guilty, it will be an even bigger mess."

Black sees it quite differently. He has declared his innocence from the beginning and believes he ultimately may prove to be the Sun-Times Media Group's only possible savior.

"As I have said before, without our judicial success there is no hope that the shareholders, who have been so severely damaged since we left, will not see their interests exterminated completely," Black said in a recent e-mail message as his criminal trial stretched into its 14th week.


WSJ, USA Today planning...magazines

Two important U.S. daily newspapers have come up with a sure-fire marketing strategy -- both the Wall Street Journal and USA Today are preparing to launch (wait for it) magazines.

According to a story in Ad Age, USA Today is farther along, with glossy launch planned for October. The Wall Street Journal is more in the concept stage, looking at a magazine to augment its Saturday "Weekend Edition", which was launched in 2005.
If they succeed, the projects will point to one of magazines' advantages in the digital age: That a coterie of beauty, fashion and other lifestyle advertisers are happier to spend money if their ads appear on thick, glossy pages.
Of course a Rupert Murdoch deal for Dow Jones (owners of WSJ) might change things, but Murdoch has already told The New York Times he'd consider turning the Journal's Pursuits section into a glossy weekend competitor to the Times Magazine, said the Ad Age story.

Susan C. Lavington, USA Today's senior VP-marketing said "We felt like, given our brand, the fact that we have this broad appeal and are known for covering a lot of different things, it seemed like a good idea to try to launch a magazine that would target this approach."
Each magazine will try to find overlooked editorial space to occupy, but the reality is that living -- however luxurious or active -- is pretty well-represented already in magazines. The real play here is creating a lush reader experience that can't be matched with newsprint, not to mention media outside print.
Media consultant Peter Kreisky said "One of the fundamental rules of publishing is to envisage where people are when they read your publication, because that really determines what the design and look and feel should be."
That's beginning to look like one of the few fundamentals that hasn't changed with the rise of digital media.For certain marketers, particularly on the high end, quality paper and presentation is everything, so adding glossy magazines makes every bit of sense, said Andrew Swinand, president-chief client officer at Starcom USA. "It's sort of like the salads at McDonald's," he said. "It's removing the veto vote. From a distribution standpoint it can't cost much more. If you can further monetize your existing base, have at it.""

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U.S. men's mags sold to private equity firm

Three men's magazines with significant Canadian circulation -- Maxim, Blender and Stuff -- have been purchased from Dennis Publishing by a private equity company for about US$240 million. In cooperation with Kent Brownridge, a former executive of Wenner Media (publishers of Rolling Stone and US), Quadrangle Capital Partners is but the latest private firm to take over well-known magazines in the states. This, according to a story in MediaDaily News.

Brownridge's plans for the titles aren't yet known, but he will likely continue the program of rolling out new branded events and experiential marketing already underway at the titles. Maxim is opening 15 "Maxim Prime" steakhouses in partnership with restaurant-manager Jeffrey Chodorow, and is also planning to open a giant Maxim-branded casino on the Las Vegas strip. Meanwhile, in a strategic move up-market, Stuff has opened Stuff VIP Travel, a concierge service for trip-planning, and also throws a party at the Kentucky Derby.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Goyette as chair at Mags Canada
shows how things can change

Not so long ago, few people in the Canadian Periodical Publishers Association and the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association (predecessors of Magazines Canada) made references to Reader's Digest Canada or Time Canada in anything but disparaging tones.

They were considered American carpetbaggers who had somehow finagled their way past regulations on foreign publishers operating in the Canadian market. When various pieces of legislation had been passed, they had lobbied fiercely to be exempted as having been established before the legislation kicked in.

How much things have changed is shown with the election this week past of Robert Goyette as Chair of Magazines Canada for the first year of a two-year term. Mr. Goyette is Vice-President and Editor in Chief of Sélection, Reader's Digest Magazines of Canada Limited. He is also Chairman of the Reader's Digest Foundation of Canada. He is past President and current Vice-President of Magazines du Québec.

The thaw in relations occurred both because political circumstances have changed but also because Reader's Digest made significant efforts over the past 30 years to change its reputation within the Canadian industry, culminating a couple of years ago when the magazine was allowed to become a Magazines Canada member.

Time Canada remains outside the tent and makes very little effort to meet the Canadian industry even halfway. The company ended its Canadian edition as soon as Bill C-58 was passed in 1975, discontinuing the tax benefits of U.S. owned magazines operating in Canada.

Reader's Digest took another tack and that was to thoroughly "Canadianize" itself. With Goyette's ascendancy, the rehabilitation would seem to be complete.


OMDC magazine fund deadline
looms; June 21

Reminder to Ontario magazines that the deadline for application to the Ontario Media Development Corporation Magazine Fund is this Thursday, June 21 at 5 p.m.

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Ontario "cluster" funding information session

The next round of applications for the Ontario Ministry of Culture's Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund (administered by the Ontario Media Development Corporation) is a couple of months away (August 27 deadline) but an information session for prospective applicants is on June 25, 9:30 am to 11:00 am in the Conference Centre, 175 Bloor Street East, NorthTower, Third Floor, Toronto. Registration for the session can be done here.

The Fund supports strategic partnerships among various creative content industries, including magazines, film and television production, interactive digital media, commercial theatre, and book publishing.

Program details, eligibility criteria and application forms are available at the OMDC website ( - under Programs / The Entertainment and Creative Partnerships Fund.

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Champions of ancient forest friendly
paper honoured

Markets Initiative, the doughty champions of ancient forest friendly paper use in Canadian publications, has given out "Order of the Forest" awards to a number of people at magazines and printers for their support and encouragement of the cause. The awards were made Friday at the MagNet magazine conference. Since this is the first time the awards have been given out, there was some catchup to do, with some awards back-dated:
  • 2004
    • John Thomson, (past) Publisher, Canadian Geographic, for the role he played in the development of the first Magazine Ecokit and the public launch of our work with magazines
  • 2005
    • Alison Jones, Publisher, Quill & Quire, for leading the redesign that allowed Quill & Quire to be the first of the St. Joseph Media titles to switch to Ancient Forest Friendly paper
    • Lynn O'Hearn, Sales Representative, St. Joseph Print, for going above and beyond to help her clients use Ancient Forest Friendly and eco paper
  • 2006
    • Jodi Books, Production Manager, explore and Cottage Life for doing all she has done to help the company implement across all departments.
    • Maria Mendes, Manager of Print Production, Transcontinental Media, for her production support in helping Canadian Home Workshop and Outdoor Canada be the first Transcontinental Media titles to use glossy Ancient Forest Friendly paper
    • Christian Dogimont, Publisher, HoBO, for wanting to use Ancient Forest Friendly paper so much he switched HoBO to uncoated paper... And for challenging Vanity Fair, in an editorial, to walk their environmental talk

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First issue of new freelance union newsletter

The Canadian Freelance Union has published the first issue of its newsletter, which you can get here.

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National magawards swept (again)
by The Walrus

It's probably unnecessary to list extensively the winners and runners-up from the National Magazine Awards three days after the event; those who won know it; those who didn't do, too; those who are interested probably were there or already went to the National Magazine Awards website to see the full list or read about it in various papers. But there are a few things that are worth mentioning:
  • For the first time in memory, the idea that it's an honour just to be nominated (one of the enduring, (probably unbelieved) cliches of competitions everywhere) is actually being taken seriously. The Globe and Mail, for instance, made much of the fact that The Walrus magazine won 51 awards, counting its honourable mentions. Winning 51 awards sound more grand than winning 6 golds, including two for one article. And doubtless The Walrus will make much of the larger number (and the golds) promotionally in the coming year. More power to them. The National Magazine Awards Foundation has always tried to get the press to see things this way, but without success, until this year.
  • The magazine cover selected as the best of the past 30 years -- a 'people's choice' online vote in celebration of the anniversary -- was from Canadian Geographic in 1999, its "Through the Lens" photography annual showing a sleeping baby, by Stephen Hanks. Interestingly, at the time, the editor, the circulation director, the publisher and the art director were agreed that this particular image, in black and white, wouldn't work on the newsstand. Indeed it didn't. But the decision was made to go with this cover because it was the right thing to do, the thinking being that if a magazine like CanGeo wasn't going to champion outstanding art on its cover, what was the point. We hope this choice by its peers is compensation for selling a few single copies. We imagine it is.
  • Every year, it seems, there is an homage to what might have been, as the magawards reward excellence from a magazine that has expired during the previous year. Many years ago, it was Quest and TO and the various Globe magazines like Domino. More recently, it was Saturday Night. This year, the "dearly departed" was Toro, which won 4 gold awards. And the Calgary-based photography magazine C-ing, which has been on hiatus since last fall, won a gold for photojournalism and photo essay.
  • The manners of the attendees were not improved by the new seating arrangements at the awards. In the Carlu auditorium, where many people sat at round tables arranged throughout the main floor, the din (particularly channelled out from under the balcony) tended to drown out much of what was emanating from the stage. For some reason, the sound system this year wasn't up to the challenge, and even when the Outstanding Achievement Award was being made to Neville Gilfoy, half the room either wasn't paying attention or was straining to hear what was being said. Greg Keilty's well-considered words in introducing Gilfoy were largely drowned out. Gilfoy himself, of course, seized command of the situation and, with his booming voice not only made himself heard but also delivered a bit of a stemwinder, a statement of the importance of magazines as retailers of ideas and a political shaft aimed at Ottawa's current Harperite bumblers.
  • Speaking of new seating arrangments, how were things in the Round Room? There, people paid less and watched the event on TV monitors. They were also closer to a cash bar and the chocolate fountain.
  • There were a scarcity of nominations and winners from the west and from Quebec, something that calls into question the "national" part of the awards. (western-based magazines got 2 gold and 5 silver awards; Quebec-based got two of each, plus L'actualite's nomination for magazine of the year). Part of the reason is that French language magazines seem to enter in only some categories. And both Quebec and the west have their own awards programs (the Western Magazine Awards go this Friday coming, June 22). You can't cook the books, mind you, but it shouldn't be concluded that good work only comes from the centre of the country.
  • In previous years, people groused about the food and the "grazing" format. Nobody was heard to say so this year, as there was plenty of it and lots of opportunities to scarf it down. Daniel & Daniel seem to have got the event down pat.
  • Outdoor Canada won a gold this year for Gord Pyzer's article on fishing. Naturally, the award had to be accepted by Editor Patrick Walsh because Pyzer had gone fishing.
  • Accepting the Health and Medicine gold for the absent Chantal Éthier in Châtelaine, Lise Ravary, editorial director of Rogers Media's women's service magazines, took the opportunity to take a shot at the paucity of awards over the years to magazines like Châtelaine which serves a largely female audience.
  • Some of you will remember a few years back when Maclean's magazine staff were reluctant attendees at the awards, regarding the whole event as being fixed to make sure they didn't get nominated and didn't win. Well, Ken Whyte's program of putting 10,000 volts through the old magazine is apparently paying off. It was demonstrated by the loud partisanship of the many Maclean's staffers in attendance, cheering on their two golds, one silver and 11 honourable mentions.
  • A couple of awards went to liddler guys who ought to be acknowledged.
    • Queen's Quarterly has been awfully good territory for columnist Robert Fulford, who won his 13th gold
    • Azure, the design magazine, won gold for magazine cover for its Water issue; design by Concrete Design Communications Inc.
    • Chris Chapman won for portrait photography, a hauntingly simple photo of writer Deepa Mehta in Montage
    • R. Johnson won a Gold for poetry in Descant
    • Lesley Barton won a Silver for Science, Technology and Environment in Peer Review, a magazine that operates somewhat out of the mainstream, serving graduate students. Notably, this young magazine's launch was encouraged a few years back with a $75,000 grant from the Ontario Media Development Corporation.
  • Congratulation to all those who had a hand in this year's printed program. In some years past, the layout was jumbled and confusing and hard to read. This year, the advertising and program design was done by Hambly & Wooley Inc. (who also created the magawards new, stylish and long-overdue logo and were an award sponsor to boot), the illustration was by Dan Page and Cynthia Brouse and Michel Defoy copy edited it. Lucie Poirier did the translation. And Dollco did the printing and sponsored the spot illustration award.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

NAFTA decision may be good news for the PAP, and for magazines

[This post has been updated*]There may be significant long-term benefits for the magazine industry growing out of a decision announced Monday by a NAFTA arbitration tribunal in Washington. It concerned the case of UPS v. Government of Canada initiated under NAFTA’s Chapter 11. Part of the tribunal's decision has what may be precedent-setting implications for the Publications Assistance Program (PAP).

(Of course, in international litigation, especially when wading in the deep waters of the North American Free Trade Agreement, it is always a good idea to step cautiously.)

A release from Minister of International Trade David Emerson and Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport,Infrastructure and Communities and a brief backgrounder are available from the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website. The full text of the decision is not yet available, but the particulars are interesting because it appears to say that government measures like the Publications Assistance Program are exempt from NAFTA under its disputed "cultural exemption".

NAFTA Chapter 11 provides rights and protections for investors and investments in member countries. Companies that believe these investor rights have been violated can take the matter before an impartial arbitration tribunal.

UPS had initiated a challenge in January 2000, claiming not less than US$ 160 million in damages. It alleged that Canada Post was benefiting from undue privileges as a government-owned corporation, that Canada Post got preferential treatment from Canada Customs, that its pricing policies gave it an unfair advantage and that Canada Post unfairly favoured its subsidiary (and direct UPS competitor) Purolator.

Of particular interest to the magazine industry was UPS's concurrent claim that the Publications Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage is contrary to Canada’s national treatment obligation because it requires publishers to deliver their publications through Canada Post to obtain the subsidy.
The Canadian Heritage Publications Assistance Program was upheld as a measure designed to assist cultural industries and therefore fell within the scope of NAFTA’s cultural exemption. In any event, the tribunal found there was no violation of national treatment.
The tribunal's final decision said that Canada had met its NAFTA obligations and dismissed UPS’s claim for damages. It ordered the parties to bear their own costs and share equally the cost of the arbitration.

*A story in the news site Reclaim the Media quotes Moya Green, the president and CEO of Canada Post saying:
"For years, UPS has made allegations of unfair competition in Canada, and in every instance the allegations have been rejected by regulatory agencies and independent experts. And now the international tribunal has ruled that the allegations have no foundation."
Deborah Bourque of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers said:
"We are very happy that the tribunal rejected UPS's complaint but that doesn't mean we think NAFTA works. NAFTA allowed UPS to put public postal service and jobs on trial -- a secret trial. The public and workers should have the right to be heard when their jobs or public services are threatened."

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Yes and Know science mags win educational publishing awards

YES and KNOW magazines have each brought home distinguished achievement awards from the Washington D.C.-based Association of Educational Publishers. Both titles are published by Peter Piper Publishing Inc. of Victoria, B.C.

YES a science magazine for youths, 9 to 14, won in the Visual Story category for Howie Woo's "Cunning Running" piece about orienteering which appeared in the Sep/Oct 2006 issue.

KNOW a science magazine for kids 6 to 9 years of age, won in the One Theme Issue category for Sep/Oct 06 issue on "Light & Colour".

Publisher David Garrison said: We are very excited to have won these two awards as we go up against a lot of big players (with much bigger budgets) from the US including the likes of National Geographic Kids, Ranger Rick, and Scholastic (who publish over 20 different titles).

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CSME award winners announced

The Canadian Society of Magazine Editors held their annual Editors' Choice awards dinner on Wednesday evening and the winners are as follows (with judges' comments appended).

The following categories are judged by a panel of fellow editors:

Trade magazine
-- Far North Oil and Gas
(This magazine succeeds two-ways as it manages to honour the interest of specific readers within its industry, as well as create interest and appeal to those outside of it.)
Small magazine (under 50,000 circulation) -- Spacing
(This magazine provides an intelligent, relevant and often surprising and fun package. It is a compelling advocate on the importance of public space and instills in readers the endless possibilities of life in Toronto.)
Medium circulation (50,000 to 149,999) -- The Hockey News
(This magazine impressed some of the judges who were not even fans of the topic it focuses on. They liked how consistently it delivers its information and analysis in a clever, well organized and accessible manner. They felt this hybrid magazine/newspaper display just works!)
Large circulation (150,000 +) -- Canadian Gardening
(The judges chose this magazine because it effectively provides its readership with timely and relevant information,discerning advice from recognized experts, and inspiring ideas presented in an elegant design... which is precisely what enthusiasts of this hobby demand.)
Other categories were judged this year by a panel of three outside judges: Bob Mercer, a professor at Simon Fraser University as well as editor and art director at Vancouver Lifestyle Magazine; Bill Shields, former editor of Masthead magazine; and Stevie Cameron, author, award winning journalist and former editor of Elm Street. She's now a contributor at Chatelaine.

Editor of the Year
-- a tie, with the award going to Matt Blackett* of Spacing magazine and Aldona Satterthwaite, the editor of Canadian Gardening.
*Blackett, who on the Spacing masthead is listed as Publisher and Creative Director says that he shares the award with Managing Editor Dale Duncan, whom he considers is co-editor with him.
Best Front of the Book -- Profit

Jim Cormier Award for best display writing -- Maisonneuve

“This year’s competition was tougher than ever,” says Douglas Thomson, president of CSME."In fact the competition was so stiff this year that the judging panel asked that we award two Editor of the Year awards. We also added a Trade category this year which opened up the competition to a whole new category of great magazines. There’s a tremendously high standard of excellence upheld by magazine editors in this country.”


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mega-merger for Abitibi-Consolidated and Bowater paper companies

Pending shareholder votes at both companies on July 26, one of Canada's largest paper companies, Abitibi-Consolidated Inc. will be merged with U.S.-controlled Bowater Incorporated. The proposed merger can be voted on as the result of an interim order of the Quebec Superior Court.

Abitibi-Consolidated shareholders will vote in Montreal; Bowater stockholders in Atlanta Georgia. (Bowater Canada Inc., a publicly traded subsidiary of the US firm.

The combined company, would be called AbitibiBowater Inc., will be the 3rd largest publicly traded paper and forest products company in North America and the 8th largest in the world. AbitibiBowater would own or operate 32 pulp and paper facilities and 35 wood product facilities located mainly in Eastern Canada and the Southeastern U.S. and would also be among the world's largest recyclers of newspapers and magazines.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Senior Living given award for service to Canadian senior community

A British Columbia magazine, Senior Living, has been given an Award of Merit for service to the Canadian senior community. The award was made by the Canadian Association of Senior Advisors, a branch of the international Society of Certified Senior Advisors (SCSA), representing 25,000 geriatric physicians, gerontologists, elder law lawyers, accountants, financial planners, and others trained and certified in senior issues.

Publishers Barbara and Barry Risto launched the magazine in Victoria to serve the Canadian senior and near-senior community. A release said the readership of the Vancouver Island edition has grown from 10,000 to over 60,000 in three years.

Accepting the Award, Mr. Risto said, "We had a dream of creating a magazine that would address the positive things about aging. We wanted a magazine that addressed both problems and solutions, and we wanted community involvement. We believe we are on the right track toward making our dream a reality for all Canadians facing age-related issues. We are proud and honoured to have been selected for this award, and look to the future toward making certain every Canadian senior has access to a monthly copy."

A Vancouver and Lower Mainland edition of Senior Living was launched in November 2006, and a combined readership of over 120,000 is expected by the end of 2007.The publishers also launched a senior housing guide and the Senior Celebration Festival which, in March 2007 (its second year) had over 100 exhibitors and 25,000 visitors.


Consumer awareness a big, outstanding challenge

Ron Sellwood is one of the many sensible voices in the magazine industry. The president of the Circulation Management Association of Canada wrote a letter to his members in a special issue of The Circulator keyed to the MagNet magazine publishing conference, being held this week at 89 Chestnut Street in Toronto.

One of the industry's biggest challenges, he says, is that while the industry recognizes that it is "a big team effort", the improvements that the industry is making, in data collection, in integrating all the aspects of publishing from creation to distribution, most of this is little appreciated by the consumer:
Not to be too pessimistic, it seems obvious to me that, if the magazine industry is to survive, our job as industry professionals is to bring back the hidden member of our team, to get the buyer back on the bus, once and for all."

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Magazine ad share growing in U.S.

Magazines share of advertising in the United States is growing (mostly at the expense of newspapers) and is second only to the internet, according to a story in MediaDaily News. It reports on research released today by Magazine Publishers of America, based on data gathered by TNS Media Intelligence. It shows that consumer magazine adshare was 16.6% during the first quarter of 2007, up 1% since the same period a year ago and up nearly 2 share points (from 14.7%) since 2004.
That makes magazines the fastest growing medium except for the Internet, which grew 1.1 share points to 7.7% of U.S. ad spending during the first quarter of 2007.
The story points out that this comparable internet figure involves a certain amount of sleight of hand, since revenue from search marketing is not included. (According to separate a story from the Centre for Media Research, based on Pricewaterhousecoopers-gathered data, total internet advertising was up 26% in the first quarter from the same period a year ago.)

Nevertheless,consumer magazines are doing well. Newspapers, on the other hand, which have dropped 3.1 points since the first quarter of 2004.

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