Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Stalin in high heels" named to U.S.
Magazine Hall of Fame

The Magazine Publishers of America and the American Society of Magazine Editors last night named Tina Brown, formerly editor of The New Yorker and Talk magazine, to the (U.S.) Magazine Hall of Fame.

In presenting Brown, reported AdAge, IAC/InterActiveCorp chief Barry Diller recalled that Jamaica Kincaid used to refer to her as "Stalin in high heels." (We think he meant this to be taken as a compliment.)
Ms. Brown...summarized her magazine work, which included successful stints at Tatler, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker -- followed by the short-lived, much-hyped Talk magazine. "I think of my career in magazines," she said to some laughter, "as three weddings and a funeral."
The other honoree at the gala dinner was Jack Kliger, the president-CEO at Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. (He is shown above with Brown.) He was given the Henry Johnson Fisher Award for contributions to the industry.
Mr. Kliger pronounced the magazine industry just about the coolest thing "a kid from Brooklyn," or anywhere else for that matter, could get into. He thanked departed industry legends such as Ruth Whitney, the longtime Glamour editor, and President-CEO Steven T. Florio, who led Conde Nast through some wild times.
Past recipients of the awards, from the Magazine Publishers of America and the American Society of Magazine Editors, include Thomas O. Ryder, Ms. Black, Hugh Hefner, Lewis Lapham, William F. Buckley Jr., Norman Pearlstine and Ellen Levine.


Maclean's columist Eckler laments hurtful online comments

I suppose the worst thing for columnist and author Rebecca Eckler would be NOT to be talked about. And if insufficient talk is forthcoming, well, she'll provoke it. Quill & Quire's Quillblog notes that she manages to write 1,600 words in Maclean's on how people say hurtful things about her in online forums. It would take a heart of stone not to sympathize; some really vicious things are said about her online. Yet she goes quite over the top by comparing herself to cyberbullied teenagers who commit suicide.

[UPDATE: There is a story in Eye Weekly about this. See whether it makes the needle on your "so what" meter go right off the scale.

Canadian Newcomer magazine expands

Canadian Newcomer Magazine, which started out four years ago with a circulation of 10,000 copies in the Greater Toronto area, has bumped its distribution to 63,000 to cover all of Ontaqrio. According to a story in Media in Canada, new distribution points for the bimonthly include Ottawa, Kingston, Peterborough, Sudbury, Barrie and Thunder Bay. It has also updated its website

"With an estimated three readers per copy, we are now reaching and helping almost 200,000 newcomers with each issue," says Dale Sproule, CNMag's editor and publisher. "The vast majority of new immigrants to Ontario encounter Canadian Newcomer Magazine at some point during their settlement and integration process and discover that our 'how-to' approach helps them integrate more quickly and easily."

The free magazine is distributed at Toronto's Pearson Airport port of entry, in public libraries and through service providers such as settlement agencies, COSTI, Woodgreen and Job Skills; English as a Second Language (ESL) providers (including the Toronto District School Board); and employment programs like Skills for Change and ACCES Employment Services.

Ruth Kelly of Venture Publishing named
Woman of the Year

Ruth Kelly, the president and publisher of Venture Publishing in Edmonton (Alberta Venture, unlimited), has been named 2008 Woman of the Year by the organization Canadian Women in Communications. Kelly has been very active in the Canadian and Alberta magazine industry and has served on the Magazines Canada board. The citation for the award, which will be presented later in February at a gala dinner in Ottawa, reads:
As the publisher and president of Venture Publishing, Ruth Kelly courageously achieves her goals. She has become a leader in a business sector that is both high-risk and traditionally male-dominated, relying on experience and skill to grow and move Venture Publishing forward. Committed to providing women with opportunities for advancement, Ruth has created a corporate culture at Venture Publishing that supports women’s career development. From leading Edmonton’s Chamber of Commerce to gathering up graduation dresses for aboriginal youth, Ruth generously volunteers her time and talent to assist other women with achieving their potential. The winner of countless awards, accolades and acknowledgements, Ruth is an outstanding role model who demonstrates that risk-taking, career advancement and community involvement can be combined to create a successful life that enriches those around her.


Canadians not fooled by bogus carbon neutrality, study says

Canadians are apparently not fooled by companies who claim to be "carbon neutral" but carry on with usual, un-green practices. According to online research commissioned by Markets Initiative of Vancouver and conducted by Pollara Research, only one per cent of Canadians say they strongly trust companies’ claims that their products or practices are carbon neutral, while 57 per cent of Canadians say they do not.

The study (details of which are available on the MI website) is part of a larger report to be released in full next week, intended to reflect market trends and environmental integrity in the paper and publishing industries. Markets Initiatives is an advocacy organization the campaigns for environmental stewardship and has had a major role in encouraging Canadian magazines to adopt ancient forest friendly paper.

Nicole Rycroft, executive director of Markets Initiative, said in a release:
“A proliferation of companies are using ‘carbon neutral’ schemes to buy their way into consumers’ hearts without taking steps to actually reduce carbon, which is what the planet needs. The good news is that these big claims with little action are not convincing Canadian consumers.”

She added part of the consumer distrust arises because companies often pay for offsets but continue business as usual. Although there is a lot of conjecture about the term ‘carbon neutral’, it was the New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2006. It refers to zero total carbon released by balancing the amount of carbon released with the amount sequestered or offset. However, there is no standard body governing carbon neutral claims, which makes
credible accounting difficult.
The release said companies like Air Canada and organizations like The Vatican have launched high profile marketing initiatives about their offsetting programs in tree planting with seemingly little other concrete action. The science is doubtful about the efficacy of tree planting offsets, as the carbon loss that results from logging carbon rich old growth forests such as Canada’s Boreal forest is not offset by planting seedlings, even after decades.
Likewise, Rolling Stone magazine announced in 2007 that it was the first magazine to use carbon neutral paper. This was in spite of the fact the paper itself lacked any low carbon features like recycled content and consisted only of 100 per cent virgin fibre. In this case, the claim of ‘carbon neutral’ accounted only for energy reduction measures at the mill and offsets purchased for the energy used to produce the paper.
The online research polled 2,271 Canadians aged 18 and over. The survey was conducted from November 9th to November 13th, 2007. Results are considered accurate to ±2.1%, nineteen times out of twenty.

Worldwide, magazines in healthy shape

Worldwide, magazines are more than holding their own, according to some recent research reported in Media Life. Some categories in the U.S. are in rough shape, but overall, slowdowns in mature markets like the U.S. and Canada are made up for by growing interest and success in the developing world; ad spending is expected to grow by 3.4% a year through 2010.
“It is still a relatively positive outlook in the west, but much more so in the emerging markets,” says Rolf Rohwer, marketing and research manager at the International Federation of the Periodical Press, which just released a new study. (They study is not available online; it may be purchased from FIPP for $180 a copy.)

But even with the growth in the developing markets, magazines are seeing their share of total media dollars shrink, and that's expected to continue, falling from 12.5 percent in 2006 to 11.4 percent by 2010, according to figures provided to IFPP by ZenithOptimedia.
Jonathan Barnard, head of publications for the firm, notes that magazines are doing better than newspapers worldwide, where ad spending is forecast to rise roughly 2.8 percent a year on average over the next three years.
Barnard thinks this is the case in part because the magazine experience isn’t so easily replicated online. “The experience of reading a magazine is different from a newspaper. The relaxed experience people have browsing through the magazine isn’t the same while you are in front of your computer console clicking away.”

But magazines have also held the attention of the younger generation better than newspapers, he notes.

What's driving the growth of magazines in developing economies is the emergence of a middle class of growing affluence. They can afford magazines as they could not before, and they can afford the products advertised in them. That in turn makes magazines a more attractive medium to brand advertisers, more so than newspapers.

In China, ad spending on magazines more than doubled between 2001 and 2006, from $145 million to $375 million, and it's forecast to reach $515 million this year. Magazines have also grown their share of market, from 2.3 percent in 1995 to 3.3 percent in 2006.

In the U.S., magazines ad spending grew from $21.5 billion in 2001 to $25.2 billion in 2006 and is forecast to hit $28.3 billion in 2008, according to FIPP figures.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Big funding changes require long transition, says Magazines Canada

Overhauling federal programs of support for the magazine industry is such a massive change, says Magazines Canada, that it is looking for a significant transition period, during which current programs need to be fully funded and functional. (How long? Certainly two or three years, at least through the 2009-10 government fiscal year.)

In a letter to the heritage minister, Magazines Canada President Mark Jamison said, in part:
The changes proposed in the consultation document are very substantial, including the elimination of the two primary programs serving the sector and their replacement with a single and very different program. If these changes move forward, they will impact the business plans and editorial decisions of periodical publishers across Canada. The development of a new program will be a complex task and will take time. We are also concerned with the length of time it will take to secure approvals in Ottawa, especially in light of a possible federal election prior to April 2009.

We urge you and your Cabinet colleagues to act immediately to ensure that the Publications Assistance Program and the Canada Magazines Fund continue and that they be fully funded at current levels through the 2009–2010 fiscal year or until the redesign process is complete and publishers have adequate time to analyze the new programs and plan for their implementation. In the case of the PAP, the funding level required through this transition period includes both the contribution amounts from Canadian Heritage and from Canada Post.
The announcement last week of the outcome of a comprehensive review was that Heritage is proposing to merge the Publications Assistance Program (PAP) and the Canada Magazine Fund (CMF) into one program called the Canada Periodical Fund.

Magazines Canada's strategy seems to include acknowledging the inevitability of changes, manage the transition and to obtain the best possible arrangement for Canadian magazines of all types. In a statement, Jamison said:
"The need for all parties to stay focused on the big picture is paramount. Based on our deliberations with members and other associations over many months, we will, in a few days be releasing top line perspectives on the DCH paper. The consensus at Magazines Canada is clear: we must work with the needs of all magazines at the table and, as stability and predictability are key goals, we must all recognize that a very carefully planned and executed transition to a new framework is just as important as the new policy framework itself."
Meanwhile, DCH has announced the dates for its "roundtable" discussions about its proposals:
Vancouver-February 11
Calgary-February 12
Winnipeg-February 14
Halifax-February 25
Montreal-February 27 and 28
Toronto-March 3 and 4

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Canadian Home & Country enjoys
bumper ad year in 2007

Canadian Home & Country has had a very good year according to Leading National Advertisers (LNA) data published by Mastheadonline (sub req'd). CH&C had a 26.1% bump in ROP ad pages. This, in a year when the largest consumer magazines saw the number of pages go up by 2.7%.

Among the biggest gainers were Toronto Life (up 25.6%), Madame and Western Sportsman (both up 22.7%)and Today's Parent (up 16.7%).

(LNA tracks the sales of 98 Canadian magazines and also reports on revenue, although this number (this year $732.5 million, up 4.9%) simply multiplies pages by the published rates, therefore not reflecting any discounts or premiums. )

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

U.S. agencies and advertisers stick to what they know: circulation, not readership

Since this magazine business is all about audience (identifying them, attracting them, signing them up, keeping them and then renting access to them), there has always been some discussion about selling on total audience rather than on guaranteed circulation. Most Canadian consumer magazines sell on readership most of the time. In the U.S., magazines have traditionally relied on a paid rate base, a guaranteed number of copies for which end users have paid something.

A year ago, Time magazine decided to test the waters by offering advertisers the ability to buy based on guaranteed total readership of 19.5 million, as measured by MRI, or against a 19 percent smaller rate base of 3.25 million copies.

Though Time is being coy about the results, a story in Mediaweek says that the magazine fell far short of its goal of having 20 to 30 per cent of clients buy on the basis of eyeballs (total audience). All Ed McCarrick, president and worldwide publisher of Time Group, said was “a few” are buying on audience but would not give specifics, saying he doesn’t discuss clients.
Asked why more advertisers haven’t warmed to the idea, he said, “I really don’t know—I think the newness of it and the approach. They approach magazines with a very conventional way of looking at them.”
Some media buying agencies said none of their clients had signed up for the audience deal and cited the nature of MRI data, which are reader-reported, while others said their clients had other priorities.
“It’s not hot on the docket,” said Ginger Taylor White, group account director, print at Carat. Barry Lowenthal, president, The Media Kitchen, saw the offer as a way to shift the conversation away from circulation. “There are a lot of magazines that have a better audience story than circulation story,” he said.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Canadian Magazines blog's 2,000th post

This is the 2,000th post for Canadian Magazines since it was launched on February 25, 2005. No one is more amazed than me. -- DBS

Peter Legge to give business press keynote at Magazines University

Peter Legge, the President and CEO of Canada Wide Media Limited of Vancouver, has been announced as the keynote speaker for the Canadian Business Press luncheon June 2 at Magazines University 2008.

In addition to running one of the largest independent magazine publishing companies in western Canada, Legge is well known as an inspirational speaker and author. His most recently published work is The Power of Tact.

Canada Wide produces 11 self-owned magazines (among them BC Business, Westworld, BC Home, Gardenwise, Granville, Grocer Today and TV Week), 28 custom publications and several related e-letters and websites). The whole company started when Legge bought TV Week in 1976.


Canadian Lawyer launches its own magazine for young lawyers

Canadian Lawyer is officially launching its Associates spinoff, a lifestyle and law magazine for young lawyers, in February, according to a story in the Financial Post. (A preview issue was distributed in November as a sort of "spoiler" to coincide with the launch of Precedent, an independent magazine aimed at young lawyers.) (See previous posts.)

Associates will be mailed to 10,000 lawyers sourced from the Canadian Law List [which Canadian Lawyer's parent company CLB Media owns] on a quarterly basis. A digital edition is available online.

Gail Cohen, editor and associate publisher of Associates says the first cover story will deal will the recent trend of U.S. and British firms recruiting young Canadian associates. Also debuting in the premiere issue will be the Legal Eats page, a regular recipe contributed by Bob Blumer, celebrity chef and host of Glutton for Punishment with Bob Blumer on the Food Network.

Karen Lorimer, group publisher of Canadian Lawyer Magazine Inc. said the new publication is an important resource for new lawyers. “It will include information that isn't readily available anywhere else.” said Lorimer in an interview.

(Dept. of weird coincidences: The first issue of Precedent had a young woman lawyer with her arm's crossed, too. )


Wal-Mart purge of 1,400 titles represented only 2-3% of sales

There's almost always background to a breaking news story, whether about magazines or not. The recent story about Wal-Mart cutting 1,400 titles from its newsstands sounded cataclysmic, but according to a story in Media Industry Newsletter (min), that's not the case.
According to John Harrington, editor of The New Single Copy, a weekly trade newsletter on magazine distribution, Wal-Mart’s total impact on retail magazine sales is at 15-17%, rather than the 20% initially reported. For some magazines, Wal-Mart may represent as much as 25% of newsstand profit, but, for most, the mega-store represents far less. And, the 1,400 magazines that were taken off the shelves only made up 2-3% of total magazine retail sales for the store. That means that the estimated 1,100 magazines left on the Wal-Mart rack accounted for 97-98% of all magazine sales revenues in Wal-Mart; the mags that were cut weren’t selling. But sales weren’t the only motivation.

In the case of Meredith’s Better Homes & Gardens and Ladies’ Home Journal, the removal of mags from the shelves may have been punitive. We had heard that Wal-Mart was unhappy with the company after it discovered that BH&G and LHJ overrun copies were being distributed at a store called Dollar Daze for the sub-newsstand price of $1, sometimes at the same time as the same issue was being sold at Wal-Mart for full-freight.

Shameless magazine for teen girls to launch
essay anthology

Shameless, the magazine for teen girls, is to publish an anthology of essays and creative non-fiction in cooperation with Tightrope Books in Spring 2009. Co-editors Megan Griffith-Greene and Stacey May Fowles are seeking submissions on a wide range of topics.
The anthology will include creative non-fiction essays by women and
trans-identified adults about their experiences as teens, and is primarily intended for a youth audience. Specifically, we’re looking for submissions about how teen experiences (positive and negative) shaped our writers’ lives.

This project is affiliated with Shameless magazine and is based in the magazine’s attitude and signature mix of smart, sassy, honest and inclusive writing. In keeping with the mandate of Shameless, we want to reach out to young female readers who are often ignored by mainstream media: freethinkers, queer youth, young women of colour, punk rockers, feminists, intellectuals, artists, and activists. We hope this book will open up a real dialogue about growing up female, creating a book that is pro-choice, queer-positive, sex-positive, girl-positive.
Submissions should range from 500 to 2500 words and need to be submitted by mail no later than April 18, 2008: Shameless Magazine Anthology, P.O. Box 68548, 360A Bloor St. W, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1X1. Put "anthology" on the outside of the envelope.

Griffith-Greene is the editor of Shameless magazine and a contributing editor of Chatelaine. Stacey May Fowles blogs daily for and is the publisher of Shameless.


To recover lost sub revenue, WSJ site would have had to increase traffic 12x : analyst

Further to pay walls or not pay walls: The recent decision of the Wall Street Journal to continue restricting its website to paying customers (at least for now) may have had something to do with the math of replacing those subscription fees with paid advertising. According to a story in, an analysis by Bear Stearns shows the popular site would have required 12x the traffic it now has to replace the revenue from subscriptions. Analyst Spencer Wang calculated thus:
  • revenue is currently pegged at $78 million annually, based on an estimated 989,000 subscribers paying $79/year.
  • Including non-subscriber traffic, the company claims 122.4 million monthly page views.
  • Based on an estimated CPM of $6 and a few other assumptions about sell-through rate and ad impressions per page, Wang arrives at the 12x conclusion.
Wang also notes that $78 million in revenue only accounts for an estimated 4 percent of Dow Jones (NYSE: NWS) revenue,
so from a strictly financial stance, it doesn’t much matter either way to News Corp. If Murdoch does set free, as is widely presumed, there will likely be a broader strategic rationale than simply wanting more ad revenue in the short term.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Azure magazine designers pick up
Good Design Awards

Toronto-based Azure magazine is doubtless basking in the reflected glory of their designers having been selected for the Good Design Awards.

According to a posting on MediaBistro, the prestigious international competition cited Toronto design team Diti Katona, and John Pylypczak (founding partners) of Concrete Design Communications with Tom Koukodimos, Levi Nicholson, Jordan Poirier and Agnes Wong for their design of Azure Jan-Feb 2007 issue (that's the 2008 equivalent shown at right).

Wong, Katona and were picked for their identity design for the Toronto restaurant Cava. Natalie Do, Katona, and Pylypczak also won for their spring, 2007 brochure for Lida Baday.

The Good Design Awards program was founded in 1950 by Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, and Edgar Kaufmann, Jr.and is administered by the Chicago Athenaeum in conjunction with the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design, and Urban Studies, and the Metropolitan Arts Press. The awards in various categories, including graphic design, are judged using Saarinen and Co.'s original criteria, with winners assessed on innovation, form, materials, construction, concept, function, and utility as well as product appearance and aesthetic appeal.

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Not so fast; Murdoch keeps Wall St. Journal pay wall...for now

The management of the Wall Street Journal have apparently convinced their new owner, Rupert Murdoch, not to be hasty in tearing down the paper's pay wall. According to a story in the New York Times, the Journal will continue, for now, to charge for its online content. Murdoch had speculated and vaccilated and generally confused everybody with his noodling about the matter.
For months, Mr. Murdoch, who took control of the paper in December, has vacillated publicly over whether to maintain its subscription firewall. But officials at his company, News Corporation, say that this time, a decision has actually been made to keep it — for now, at least.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr. Murdoch said that the pages on “giving the greatest insights, that will still be a subscription service,” according to Reuters.
See earlier post on this.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Radical funding overhaul by Canadian Heritage proposes merger of CMF and PAP

[This post has been updated.] The Department of Canadian Heritage is proposing a radical overhaul of its funding programs, combining the Canada Magazine Fund (CMF) and the Publications Assistance Program (PAP) into one, new program called the Canada Periodical Fund. It proposes that funding be used to encourage the development of digital and online intiatives of print publishers. [And it indicates that the $1 million program called Support for Arts and Literary Magazines (SALM) would be gone, a major hit for the hundreds of very small cultural magazines in this country.]

The department has launched a consultation process by posting a discussion paper, a PowerPoint presentation and various background documents on its website and asking for public and industry consultation and reaction by April 25. Individuals may respond and there will be roundtable discussions by invitation to stakeholder groups in the industry.

[UPDATE: Concern is already being expressed that the time allowed for consultation is extremely short in reviewing and commenting on such a sweeping change in policy, particularly one which, like the PAP postal subsidy, has been around for more than 100 years. While the proposals suggest that they are freeing magazines to be compensated for using alternative forms of delivery, for many smaller, independent magazines in this country this is not a reasonable or likely alternative. (Canadians have delivered to them more than 700 million copies of magazines every year through the mail.) The proposal, in effect, lets Canada Post off the hook from its long responsibility to allow Canadian publishers to reach Canadian readers in a cost-effective way.]
This review is not considering whether the Government should fund magazines and non-daily newspapers, [says the DCH document] but how they should be funded. Having considered the current environment and the history of the programs, Canadian Heritage has developed a proposal for discussion during these consultations: the development of a new, combined program tentatively called the Canada Periodical Fund.
All publications which now receive PAP or CMF funding -- that includes all consumer and trade magazines and community newspapers -- can expect to be affected by the proposed changes, says the ministry. No dollar figures are attached; the two programs together were worth $60 million to Canadian magazines in 2006-07 , although the PAP is set to lose $15 million effective March 31, 2009 when Canada Post withdraws the last of its financial support.

If the Canada Periodical Fund were to retain all of the current funding for CMF and PAP (less the departing Canada Post contribution), the merged program would have $60 million to spend, of which about $45 million (about 78%) could conceivably go to magazines. But there are no suggestions in the consultation documents of how much money the new fund may be getting. It could be less than it gets now; it is unlikely to get more.

Scott Shortliffe, the Director of Periodical Publishing and Programs bluntly told a Canadian Business Press meeting last June:
"Frankly, I think the idea of spending more is extraordinarily lofty. This government has been very consistent in saying it has new spending priorities and that more money will be allocated to the cultural industries. Even if someone came forward with a brilliant program that would cost $300 million, it's not going to happen."
Whatever the budget, the proposal is that 95% of the new Fund would go to periodical publishers (magazines and non-daily newspapers) and 5% to industry initiatives. Right now
  • a fixed program budget would be allocated by formula to eligible publishers to reimburse magazine content and distribution expenses. Such a formula could be weighted by profitability, proportion of Canadian content, the ad:editorial ratio and whether the publication serves official and other language minorities, aboriginal or rural communities..

  • The formula would be adjusted and refined annually.

  • Publishers could apply and receive payment once a year for all their titles. In other words, application would be made by publisher rather than by title -- so Rogers Media and Transcontinental Media would make one application for support for their dozens of different consumer and trade magazines.The entire program budget would be allocated at one time.

  • Eligible distribution expenses could be for either Canada Post or alternative delivery methods, a major change for the industry, which has already explored delivering magazines outside of the traditional and increasingly unaffordable mail system.

Somewhat ominously, the discussion document muses about "whether the relatively large share of program spending received by a relatively small number of large publishing companies is an appropriate and effective use of public funds". This can only be a reference to the postal subsidies and editorial content support being received by large companies like Transcontinental Media and Rogers Media Publishing and large circulation titles like Chatelaine and Maclean's or Canadian Living. DCH notes that 75% of the CMF goes to the 20 largest publishing companies.

It also questions whether the current funding regime is benefiting writers, photographers, illustrators and other creators. And whether federal government support for magazines should be focussed in areas that complement its Advantage Canada strategy to cut taxes and reduce the national debt.

The benchmarks for success of the program could be:
  • Increased Canadian content in periodicals, measured by the number of pages of Canadian magazine content produced annually, the incomes of Canadian creators, and the diversity and number of Canadian magazines and non-daily newspapers;
  • Greater access by Canadians to Canadian periodicals, measured by market share of Canadian magazines, circulation and access by in smaller communities;
  • Greater stability and predictability in program delivery by establishing and adhering to service standards.
The discussion paper says that proposals, which are an outcome of a wide-ranging review over more than a year and a half, are intended to provide optimum value to Canadian readers and predictability and streamlined program delivery to publishers and DCH by merging two programs and delivering them by publishing company rather than by title. It also says that there will be greater flexibility in the type of distribution publishers may use now that Canada Post is withdrawing its last support from PAP effective March 31.

One of the most dramatic departures suggested by the discussion paper is that it contemplates directing money to support and encourage online and digital delivery of Canadian content.
The proposed approach offers opportunities to address changes in the way Canadians are consuming news and entertainment: through joint initiatives on industry-wide projects and by exploring the possibility of opening funding to new forms of publications or to online content produced by print publications.
DCH poses questions that people in the industry will undoubtedly want to answer, among which are (we're paraphrasing):
  • Where should the government target its support?
  • What types of publications should receive support and which should be excluded?
  • Should the program support web-only magazines as well as digital ventures of online publishers?
  • Should good environmental practices be rewarded within the program?
  • Should appropriate compensation for writers and other contributors be a factor in the program?
There are probably a bunch of other questions to come, including the most compelling:
  • Will there be more money, the same money spread differently or less money?
[Statement about consultation, from Magazines Canada.]

[More to come]

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Opening on the horizontal:
Blackflash reconfigures

Blackflash, the cutting edge media arts and photography magazine from Saskatoon, has "reconfigured" itself for its next issue, due on stands within the next week or so, to a horizontal format. For a magazine as aggressively and boldly visual as this, it seems a logical step. It's one of 3 issues in the magazine's 25th anniversary season.

The forthcoming issue (25.2) focusses on the concepts of ‘site’ and includes artists who have in common "discursive" art practices that integrate photography (what Blackflash likes to call "lens") and digital technology, the web, animation, sound, music (DJ/VJ), film and mass media.
"All make reference to the collective and social specificities of site while calling on the human impulse to document our social environments and capture both the ordinary and the political through poetic and publicly accessible meditations on the public and geographical spaces that we inhabit." said editor Lissa Robinson in a release

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Could, would Google buy the New York Times?

Well, here's something to chew on: the suggestion that it might make sense for Google to buy the New York Times. Of course it depends on the Sulzberger family being willing to sell, but the website RealClearMarkets publishes a persuasive argument why it would be a good deal for everyone, particularly as Rupert Murdoch is intent on eating the Times' lunch with his newly acquired Wall Street Journal.
At some point here in the near future, the market capitalization of the New York Times will fall below $2 billion. At that point, a psychological floor will have collapsed and the company will be in play.

The company that has the most to gain from buying the New York Times is Google. If it proffered a Murdoch-like, no-auction bid of $4 billion, wouldn't the Sulzberger family have to accept it? Every single class B shareholder would accept the offer. It's their only exit. It is also likely that Times employees and retirees would enthusiastically support the deal; it's their only exit as well. So it would all come down to whether the Sulzberger family (smaller in number and not as far-flung as the fractious Bancroft clan that owned Dow Jones) would accept the deal.
(This may all be self-interested market speculation, intended to give aid to the short sellers. But I've never seen the argument put so clearly and starkly.)

Quote, unquote: free or popular?
Take your pick

“Anyone can hire a bunch of monobrows to thrust a free paper at you as you rush into a train station. It’s another thing to encourage a regular and growing readership to part with nearly £4 every month to belong to an exclusive club.”
- GQ (UK) editor Dylan Jones, on Sport, the giveaway weekly that is celebrating its first anniversary.
“If people didn’t like them, they wouldn’t pick them up, and people wouldn’t advertise and then they’d fail.”
-- Simon Carney, editor of Sport.
[From UK Press Gazette.]


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Small Press Book Fair spat deteriorates

The old joke is: Why are fights at university faculty meetings so vicious? Because the stakes are so small.

This is apparently the case concerning the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, an event that in recent years has provided an outlet for a good many specialty and smaller magazine publishers. An earlier post reported on what at the time appeared to be a transitory spat between the current organizers and one of the participants and a founder of the fair. Well, according to a posting on the Quillblog (from Quill & Quire magazine), things have deteriorated in the way things can only when lawyering is threatened...


Atlantic's pay wall comes down

In an Editor's Note, the Atlantic not-altogether-Monthly's website today announced a free-for-all, so to speak:

Beginning today, is dropping its subscriber registration requirement and making the site free to all visitors.

Now, in addition to such offerings as blogs, author dispatches, slideshows, interviews, and videos, readers can also browse issues going back to 1995, along with hundreds of articles dating as far back as 1857, the year The Atlantic was founded.

We're pleased to bring The Atlantic before a broader online audience. We hope that the quality of its writing, the trenchancy of its insights, and the depth and thoughtfulness of its reporting will inspire many of our online readers to join the Atlantic family by becoming print subscribers.

—The Editors

Past blog postings on various pay walls coming down can be found here.

The crowned king of inconsequential, miscellaneous factoids

Rick Spence, former editor and publisher of Profit magazine, cleaned up on a recent CBC trivia challenge program called Test the Nation. Not only did his team, made up of bloggers, win the entire competition (scoring an average of 50 out of 60 by knowing more about 21st century trivia than anyone else) he won a cup for highest individual score (57 out of 60).

Spence, who runs his own consultancy now, and publishes an excellent blog called Canadian Entrepreneur, obviously indulges (with his entire team) in the same kinds of work-avoiding indiscriminate reading as the rest of us; a perfect training regimen for such a competition.

Seminar promises to change the way magazines do business

Magazines Canada is offering a full-day seminar on future workflow innovations that, in marketing hyperbole "will forever change how magazines do business". Still, it sounds as though the Magazines Canada Innovation Symposium offers a packed day of presentations will be extremely useful for agency and magazine art directors, designers, and magazine production professionals.
The symposium is on Thursday, February 21 in Toronto at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University. To find out more, go to this site. Cost is $90 before February 6; $110 afterwards.

Among the presenters:

  • Don Hutcheson, Chairman of GRACol & Principal Consultant of Hutcheson Consulting
  • Thad McIlroy, Consultant & Author, Arcadia House
  • Nicky Milner, VP Premedia Group, Transcontinental
  • Sebastian Distefano, Business Development Manager, Adobe Systems


Quebecor World seeks and gets bankruptcy protection

The long and franky tragic saga of Quebecor World (tragic for the employees, certainly) has wound its way into bankruptcy protection, which will give the giant printing company some time to satisfy the demands of the bankers.

According to a story in The Canadian Press and other sources:

"It is imperative to grant the relief sought," Quebec Superior Court Justice Robert Mongeon said Monday.

In approving a motion to place the company under Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) protection for 30 days until Feb. 20, he also authorized a US$1-billion financial lifeline that will prevent the Montreal-based company from running out of money by Thursday as it restructures under court protection.

Ernst & Young Inc. was named monitor.

Meanwhile, the parent company Quebecor Inc. has told its printing subsidiary to expunge the name Quebecor from its signage. Enough damage has been done to the Quebecor brand, apparently, and particularly to the resurgent Quebecor Media arm.

The likely outcome of all this will be painful, including a major sale of assets and divisions to rivals QW previously dominated, the loss of thousands of jobs and the shrinking back of the company to a fairly ordinary commercial printer, without the Quebecor name.

For background on this story, see earlier posts.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Copyright should protect and nurture the rights of creators, says coalition paper

No matter what happens, any copyright legislation in Canada has to put the rights of artists and creators first, says the Creators' Copyright Coalition.

The coalition -- an alliance of 16 professional associations of individual creators and performers and copyright collective societies active in the theatre, the visual arts, the applied arts, literature, music, recording and audiovisual (radio, television, film and commercials -- has published a position paper by which it hopes to influence forthcoming, and somewhat delayed, legislation.

John Degen, novelist and Executive Director of the Professional Writers Association of Canada: “I believe Canada can have a strong copyright law protecting the work and careers of all professional creators, while fairly and reasonably addressing the concerns of both corporations and consumers.The CCC statement is meant as a step in that direction.”

The paper asks the government to enact copyright legislation that will:
1) Recognize the central role of authors and performers in innovation and in the artistic and cultural progress of a society;
2) Reaffirm that the principal objective of the Copyright Act is the protection of the moral and economic rights of authors and performers;
3)Reaffirm their right to just remuneration for the use of their work;
4)Reaffirm that the introduction of new technologies should not threaten the fundamentals of copyright, in particular, activity relating to fair dealing provisions
5) Resist the expropriation of rights through the use of exemptions granted users; and,
6) Avoid placing the entire burden of defending these rights on authors and performers, who should not have to go to court or install costly technological protection measures.


Golfweek magazine fires editor
over cover image

The editor of Golfweek magazine has been sacked for running a cover shot of a hangman's noose. According to a posting on BoSacks blog the magazine confirmed Friday that less than a week after the cover appeared, the company fired Dave Seanor, the editor responsible .
[Seanor] said he was overwhelmed by negative reaction to the photo of a noose on the cover of this week's issue, illustrating a story about the suspension of a Golf Channel anchor for using the word "lynch" in an on-air discussion about how to beat Tiger Woods.

[The cover was an attempt to illustrate a story on the racially-insensitive remarks made by a Golf Channel announcer about Tiger Woods. The anchor, Kelly Tilghman, suggested on-air that Woods' rivals "lynch him in a back alley."]

"We knew that image would grab attention, but I didn't anticipate the enormity of it," [said] Seanor, vice president and editor of the weekly magazine, said from the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla.

"There's been a huge, negative reaction," he said. "I've gotten so many e-mails. It's a little overwhelming."
The company issued an apology:
"We apologize for creating this graphic cover that received extreme negative reaction from consumers, subscribers and advertisers across the country," William P. Kupper Jr., president of Turnstile Publishing Co., the parent company of Golfweek, said in a statement [1]. "We were trying to convey the controversial issue with a strong and provocative graphic image. It is now obvious that the overall reaction to our cover deeply offended many people. For that, we are deeply apologetic."

Seanor's firing came a day after the PGA Tour threatened to pull all of its advertising out of the magazine.

"Clearly, what Kelly said was inappropriate and unfortunate, and she obviously regrets her choice of words," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement. "But we consider Golfweek's imagery of a swinging noose on its cover to be outrageous and irresponsible. It smacks of tabloid journalism. It was a naked attempt to inflame and keep alive an incident that was heading to an appropriate conclusion."

"We know we have a job ahead of us to re-earn the trust and confidence of many loyal readers," Babineau said in a note [2] posted on the Golfweek Web site. "Our staff is very passionate about the game. Our wish is that one regretful error does not erase more than 30 years of service we've dedicated to this industry."

Looking at how other magazine sectors work

For those who are interested in the way the magazine business works elsewhere* than Canada, there are a couple of downloadable resources that are really quite good, even though self-serving. One was published last month in Britain by the Periodical Publishers Association and gives an enormous amount of revenue and share of market data for the British magazine sector. The Media Magazine Handbook brings together useful data on consumer, b-to-b, customer and digital magazine publishing. It's a fairly large file, but worth it for magazine mavens.

In the U.S., the data is more fractured and less revealing. Consumer magazine data, mainly for larger publishers, is provided by the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA). Comparative, if not comparable, data on trade/b-to-b publishing is provided by American Business Media (although some of it is only available to non-members for a price). And the Custom Publishing Council provides its own version of data on the customer magazine sector.

*In Canada, Magazines Canada provides the most comprehensive collection of data and studies.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Once, maybe a mistake. Twice? Carelessness; Sun rips off another blog without credit


Funny, you rarely see mainstream magazines plagiarizing other media (not never, rarely) but it seems that for some mainstream media, it's fair game to simply rip off journalistic blogs without so much as by-your-leave.

In December, we reported the Toronto Sun lamely apologized and belatedly paid a fee for lifting a complete item from the Spacing magazine blog in Toronto. Now, apparently, not having learned its lesson, a Sun writer has been allowed to do it again. (I say allowed since I assume the Sun is still edited in some way or another. After its earlier experience, didn't anybody check?)

Here is the relevant paragraph from Torontoist about a guerrilla poster who puts up bogus brochures on the little hooks on subway cars. (Italics added for easy comparison in each case.)

First, the Torontoist para posted on Friday:
Posterchild––street artist extraordinaire and our new curator for Vandalist––has taken it on himself to fill the empty hooks of the TTC's subways, streetcars, and buses with new and improved information flyers. For the past week, he's posted details of one flyer a day to his blog: Monday was a subway and streetcar colouring book; Tuesday was tips on how to flirt on the subway (pictured above); Wednesday was a guided graffiti tour along the 510 Spadina streetcar route; Thursday was a cryptogram, maze, connect-the-dots game, and riddles; and today's, Friday, was a claim that the whole system is now free.
Then the Sun para, from a story by writer Jenny Yuen in Sunday's paper:
For each week day, Posterchild made up flyers for commuters and hung them on hooks on subway cars and the 510 Spadina streetcar.

Each day had a different theme:

Monday was a subway and streetcar colouring book; Tuesday was tips on how to flirt on the subway; Wednesday was a guided graffiti tour along the 510 Spadina streetcar route; Thursday was a cryptogram, maze, connect-the-dots game, and riddles; and Friday's was a claim that the whole system is now free.

[UPDATE] The Toronto Sun has apologized to Torontoist and after talking to Sun editors, Torontoist has withdrawn its offer to apologize if it was unreasonably blaming the writer for the situation. Wisely, Torontoist then closed off the conversation, in which commenters threatened to spiral out to Andromeda in their passion for one side or the other.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Coincidence gives boost to Maisonneuve
direct mail package

When the genie comes out of the bottle, always ask for perfect timing. That's certainly what Montreal-based magazine Maisonneuve seems to have had when, all unawares, it delivered a direct mail subscription package headed "Definitely Not Maclean's..." that landed in the mailboxes of some people at precisely the same time a Maclean's subscription pitch and sample magazine arrived. This, according to a Montreal blog called Blork, which wondered if it was a coincidence or a "cool marketing trick".

Pure coincidence, says Maisonneuve publisher Derek Webster.
"Maclean's is the most recognizable Canadian magazine out there, and we certainly tried to use that fact as an establishing point of reference to introduce Maisonneuve to our test audience. Of course everyone in the industry knows that Ken White's Maclean's is livelier, fresher and more insightful than it has been for decades."
The Maisonneuve package, designed by Phillippa Dowding and Kal Honey, worked hard to position the magazine not only as not Maclean's, but "Think: a more youthful Utne with the smarts of Harper's, but by Canadians".

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Out ya go! Wal-Mart drops 1,000 titles from its newsstand inventory

Wal-Mart stores are having a huge purge of magazine titles. Long one of the biggest newsstand operators (generating more than 20 per cent of all retail magazine sales in the U.S.), the 4,000-strong string of stores is cutting 1,000 titles, according to a story in the New York Post by the usually reliable Keith Kelly.

Some of the titles (Child, Celebrity Living, Elle Girl, Teen People, Suede, Shop Etc., Weekend and FHM) are chopped from the inventory list because they are no longer being sold because they are no longer being published. But, as the story says, virtually no major publisher was spared as the chain uses its vaunted tracking system to decide who stays and who goes among titles that are going concerns.

One of the biggest corporate losers appears to be Meredith Publishing.

Its flagship Better Homes & Gardens is out, as is its sister service magazine Ladies Home Journal. Family Circle stays, however.

Fitness, which Meredith picked up from the defunct Gruner + Jahr, is out, though rivals Shape and Self are still in.

Time Inc.'s In Style will remain, though its spin-off title In Style Home is out. The main Sports Illustrated will remain on shelves, but Sports Illustrated for Kids is getting the heave-ho.

Hearst's Town & Country is out, as is Hachette's Home and Metropolitan Home.

Condé Nast lost space on Wal-Mart's racks for upscale parenting magazine Cookie, the urbane and sophisticated The New Yorker and the glitzy oversized W. Self magazine made the cut, but some slower-selling special interest spin-offs got the ax.

Several titles owned by Swedish publishing giant Bonnier, which less than a year ago paid $220 million for 16 Time Inc. titles, are being left behind. Among them: Parenting, Ski, Skiing, Yachting and Salt Water Sportsman.

Wal-Mart also tossed out some of longstanding titles, including foodie mag Saveur and Caribbean Travel & Life. And a number of business titles, including The Economist, BusinessWeek, Forbes and Fortune, are also getting the boot....

Even magazines that one might think fit with Wal- Mart's conservative and working- class image were left out in the cold. Among them: Boar Hunter Magazine, Spirituality & Health, Cabin Life and Log Home Living. Even the Saturday Evening Post is being spurned.

Alberta talks magazines at March conference

Registration is open for a lively and far-reaching conference being hosted by the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association March 6 and 7 in Calgary. The 12th annual AMPA lineup includes presentations by
  • Charlene Rooke, editor of Western Living
  • Kim Machado, General Manager of
  • Mary Newberry, former managing editor for Descant magazine
  • Malcolm Brown, art director of the just-launched Unlimited magazine
  • Glenn Mielke, art director for BlackFlash magazine
  • Kevin Menshik, director of the agency Mediactive
  • Jason Brightman, director of web design for PC World and MacWorld in San Francisco, who will be the keynote speaker.
For more information, you can download the brochure and online registration is available. A full conference pass for AMPA members is $175 by the early bird deadline of February 11 and $205 after. Non-members: $215 and $250.

Reader's Digest annouces March launch of new women's magazine, Best Health

Reader's Digest Magazines Canada Limited is to launch a new magazine in March aimed at the heart of the biggest, fattest and most crowded category in Canadian publishing -- magazines aimed at women. The new magazine will be called Best Health and it will be targetting women, 35 to 55. That means it will be going up against such heavyweight titles as Canadian Living, Chatelaine, Homemaker's and More magazines, not to mention the books like Fashion, Flare and Elle Canada.

Larry Thomas, the president of Reader's Digest in Montreal, told Masthead magazine (sub req'd) that reaction from the advertising community and newsstand distributors has been "extremely positive" and the magazine tested well with consumers. He says that the subject area gives RD an edge:
“There’s room to grow,” he says. “Obviously there is a competitive environment out there. We will be looking to generate some dollars from not just other magazines, but other media as well…But we think there is a strong interest in this particular subject and I think that [advertisers] are interested in being in the environment we’re going to offer."
First issue circulation is to be 100,000 and the cover price on the launch issue 1 will be $3.99 ($4.99 thereafter). A subscriber will pay $30.96 (including $5.99 for postage and handling). The key rate for an ad page is $10,000.

In 2004, RD (which itself has 920,000 circulation in English and 244,000 in French) branched out from its flagship magazine with a new magazine called Our Canada. The largely reader-written publication started out with 100,000 circulation and is now at about 300,000.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

PWAC launches Editor of the Year Award

Editors sometimes don't get the respect they deserve from writers (and sometimes vice versa) and from awards programs. Editors generally have to bask in the reflected glory while underpaid but visible freelancers and designers get the trophies. The Professional Writers Association of Canada are attempting to rectify this with the launch of their first annual PWAC Editor of the Year Award.

[This is not the first national Editor of the Year award. A similarly named award is made by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors (CSME) and awarded along with other awards at the association's annual dinner.]

Nominees for the PWAC award may be staff editors, freelance editors or editors associated with one or more publications and they may work for any print medium. They may only be nominated by one of the 600 PWAC members in good standing. The winner will be announced each May at the PWAC National Conference Awards Banquet, and will also be congratulated at the PWAC Luncheon during MagNet, the annual Canadian magazine industry conference in Toronto (of which PWAC is a founding partner).
“As professional freelance writers,” explained PWAC President, Carolyn Gibson, “we are often privileged to work with outstanding editorial professionals who respond quickly and positively to our queries, help us shape our ideas and work, improve our writing, and smooth the process of publication, invoicing and payment. Starting this year, PWAC members now have the opportunity to bring national recognition and praise to our too-often unsung business partners – the editors.”

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Waiting for the other Heritage shoe to drop.
Are cuts coming?

Hold onto your hats, and other parts. Looming imminently (probably early next week) is the public announcement of the outcome of a review by the Department of Canadian Heritage of its support programs for magazines.

A recent article in Mastheadonline reported (sub req'd) on one aspect of this, the review of the Publications Assistance Program (PAP), commonly known as the postal subsidy. Scott Shortliffe, the periodical publishing policy and programs director told Masthead that there will be a release of documents to be followed by "extensive consultations".

But it was the plural that caught our attention -- proposals. Because over the past 18 months, DCH has reviewed all of the programs it delivers. And there is concern that the outcome may dismay everyone in the industry, not just those who qualify for PAP (though that includes a large number of Canada's consumer magazines) .

Much of the review is driven by the February 2007 recommendations from the so-called "Blue Ribbon Panel" that outlined suggested strategies for grants and contributions improvement and greater accountability across all Heritage programs.

The proposals concerning magazines may include cuts or major eligibility changes to PAP but also the four major components of the Canada Magazine Fund. (Experience is that by the time we get to the proposal stage after such a review, rearguard actions can only do so much. Of course the news could be an injection of new money... but don't hold your breath.)

As Masthead put it, it seems unlikely that DCH will simply make up the $15-million that Canada Post is pulling out of PAP this spring. What the industry should be more concerned about is the $45-million that DCH now puts into PAP plus the additional $16 million that goes to small magazines, to literary and cultural magazines, to larger magazines to support Canadian editorial and to industry associations to support industry-wide development.

[Fair disclosure; as a consultant, I sometimes do work for magazines and industry associations which pay for the work through contributions from the Canada Magazine Fund.]

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More magazine's success leads to launch this fall of French edition

Transcontinental Media, flush with the success of its co-venture with Meredith Corporation in publishing the Canadian edition of More magazine, has announced that it is to publish a French edition. According to a story in Media In Canada, the new edition will debut in the fall.

The English edition of the magazine, which launched in March 2007 has done better than double its initial circulation projections (now having about 80,000), apparently being extremely popular with its target audience, women over 40. It didn't hurt, of course, that Transcontinental is Canada's largest consumer magazine publisher and was able to cross-promote the new magazine in titles like its Canadian Living, Homemaker's and Elle Canada and Elle Quebec. In fact, Elle Quebec and Elle Canada were an example of the More experience in reverse. Elle Quebec's success (as a franchise under license from Hachette Filappachi) resulted in the launch of a national English product.
"With the success of More in Canada, we confirmed we had a magazine that neither our readers nor our advertisers had ever seen before, and they were hungry for it," says Francine Tremblay, Transcontinental's Senior Vice-president of consumer magazines. "More magazine speaks to a unique niche, and it's obvious to us that niche exists among French-speaking women as well."

Sylvie Poirier will be leaving her current position as editor-in-chief of Transcontinental's Elle Quebec to edit the French More.

How come the liquor store is in the magazine business?

An opinion piece in the National Post by D'Arcy Jenish, a freelance writer and former staffer at Maclean's magazine, takes up the case of Food & Drink magazine. While it doesn't bring new information to the fore, his column reiterates the question that the magazine industry is asking (so far, to no effect): why is the Ontario government and one of its agencies, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario using its monopoly position to compete with private sector magazines.

His conclusion is blunt:
There is, in short, no compelling case for keeping this magazine as the coddled creation of a state-owned monopoly. The government should shut it down, or cut it loose, and let Food & Drink stand or fall on its own merits.
Food & Drink publishes quarterly and has a circulation of about 520,000 copies and a measured readership according to the Print Measurement Bureau of 2.17 million (about 4.1 readers per copy).

The article quotes Mark Jamison, the president of Magazines Canada, saying that Food & Drink takes something like $10 million* in advertising revenue that would otherwise go to other consumer magazines. MagsCan published a public policy paper in November recommending that the Ontario government get out of the business. (An earlier post pointed out that Food & Drink takes up 40% of the beverage alcohol advertising dollars in Canada and is the 20th largest consumer magazine in the country in terms of advertising and 10th in terms of circulation, despite being distributed only in Ontario liquor stores.)

*In fact, elsewhere it has been said that the $10 million is more subtle and probably represents the increased value of sales as the result of publishing the magazine and a couple of years ago, the magazine was reported to have production costs of about $5 million and ad revenue of $3 million, justifying the shortfall by the bump in sales. Since the LCBO refuses to publish its magazine's financials, no one really knows.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Reader's Digest tops Masthead list of top 20 influential magazines

[NOTE: This posting has been amended.]Masthead magazine has released its list of the top 20 "most influential" magazines and the number one title is Reader's Digest. Six titles' influence is in the past tense, since they are no longer published. Only one trade publication (Canadian Grocer) made the list. The finalists were selected by a panel of five industry people out of a long list of nominees sent in by Masthead readers. The list, which is reported today in the Globe and Mail, is as follows:
  • Reader's Digest
  • Chatelaine
  • Maclean's
  • Saturday Night (defunct)
  • L'actualité
  • Weekend (defunct)
  • Cité Libre (defunct)
  • Toronto Life
  • Vice
  • Canadian Business
  • Homemaker's
  • Canadian Grocer
  • Alberta Report
  • Owl/Chickadee
  • This (formerly This Magazine)
  • The Tamarack Review (defunct)
  • The Body Politic (defunct)
  • Grip (defunct)
  • Flare
  • The Walrus

The selection of Reader's Digest is accurate (in terms of its influence on the public) but somewhat ironic given that the Canadian industry used to bristle at the magazine's name, since it and Time Canada were considered carpetbaggers. because they were exempted from controls over foreign magazine publishers. (Reader's Digest changed its corporate structure to align with Canadian law, after successfully lobbying to have digesting done by Montreal editors be considered Canadian content; Time Canada simply closed up its Canadian edition rather than comply.) All has, however, been forgiven and Reader's Digest is now not only a member of Magazines Canada, the editor of its French edition is now the chair of the board.

CLB Media buys legal recruitment and
placement firm

The Cartwright Group, which owns trade magazine publisher CLB Media, which in turn publishes Canadian Lawyer and Law Times and a dozen other titles, has purchased RainMaker Group Retirement Inc., according to a story in the Financial Post.

The firm provides legal recruitment and placement services for law firms and corporations throughout Canada and around the world. Rainmaker president Adam Lepofsky said the deal will "assist us in expanding our client base, and their expertise in marketing and IT infrastructure will help us meet our growth needs."

Stuart Morrison, president of The Cartwright Group Ltd., said, "We view RainMaker's membership within The Cartwright Group as an opportunity for us to expand the suite of services that we currently provide."


Toronto Life writer reamed for giving Scarborough a bad rap

It took them about a month to come to the boil, but municipal councillors from the eastern end of Toronto are bubbling now about a story on Scarborough by writer Don Gillmor in the December issue of Toronto Life.
"The notion that's written by reporters and so on that Scarborough's a bad place, it's a place infested with crime, is inaccurate, and it has to stop," said an irked Councillor Michael Thompson, his voice rising in anger.
The Toronto Sun reported that Thompson and other councillors are cheesed off not only at Gillmor and Toronto Life but at the general run of media attitudes and the lampooning of "Scarberia".

Gillmor's piece was headlined The Scarborough Curse. The deck was "How did boring, white-bred Scarberia become Scarlem—a mess of street gangs, firebombings and stabbings? Portrait of Toronto’s unluckiest suburb" The article said that, for years, Scarborough had been a foil to downtown Toronto, comparing it to the difference between New Jersey and Manhattan.

Courageously, I think, Gillmor appeared before the Scarborough Community Council, a caucus of Toronto City Council, to discuss and, ultimately, to defend his piece. He told the councillors the piece was "done out of a level of concern" and that magazines examining urban issues have a "mandate to criticize" and not just publish the feel-good stories.

Councillor Glen De Baeremaeker took issue with a passage that referred to the "hint of menace rather than complacency" and the "spectre of ethnic gangs" and "sectarian tension" that forms part of today's Scarborough.

At one point, he said to Gillmor, "Anyone who is from Scarborough and who read this would just laugh because it's so ridiculous."

The Sun didn't seem to have much problem finding Scarborough residents who would back up the less savoury side of the suburb's reputation.

At the Kennedy Subway station, Scarborough resident Pradeesh Sriharan, 19, who was picking up his mom, Sureka Sriharan, 44, didn't agree with the councillors.

"I think it's a violent place," Sriharan said. "I don't find it safe at all because of the things I see. Just yesterday there was a fight at Markham and Lawrence. It was fists. I was kinda amazed. It was girls."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cosmopolitan TV to debut in Canada
in February

Cosmopolitan TV, based on the hugely successful women's magazine of the same name, will be debuting in Canada starting next month (see earlier post) According to a story in World Screen, a deal between Corus Entertainment and Hearst Corporation, Cosmo's publisher, will see the program rolled out to all Bell ExpressVu customers on February 14; other deals are pending. (The specialty channel is already available in 20 countries; it was launched in Spain in 2000.)
Targeting women 18-34, CosmoTV programming includes comedies, dramas and relationship and reality programming. On the slate are Oh So Cosmo, Sex and the City, The Bachelor, The Agency and Dirty Cows, among others.

Police magazine picks "best dressed"
patrol cars

It all depends on your point of view. Business magazines judge rich people and the best employers. Fashion magazines judge designers and models. Well, police magazines pick the best-looking police cars.

The current issue of Blue Line Magazine says that the retro paint jobs of the cruisers of the Ontario Provincial Police (above) wins it Canada's "best dressed" title.

Blue Line, which has a circulation of about 50,000 and goes to law enforcement agencies across the country, collaborated with a police car website to pick the winners. Among them was the fleet of the University of Saskatchewan campus safety patrol "We know it's the nicest design in Canada, but we didn't know somebody else was going to agree with us," says Bob Ferguson, director of campus safety at the U of S, who was surprised by the win in a contest the department never knowingly entered.

Law enforcement agencies, along with enthusiasts, post pictures of law enforcement vehicles on, says Dave Brown, a freelance writer for Blue Line magazine, and the man who chose the country's "best dressed police vehicles" for Blue Line's January 2008 issue.

According to a story in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, Brown says he was looking for "immediately identifiable" police and law enforcement vehicles with good visibility, a unique look, a clean design and a connection to the community.

Some police forces, law enforcement vehicles and campus patrols are better at dressing up their cars than others.

"Some of them really look like mobile ransom notes," Brown said. "They have such a mix of fonts and colours."

Sound like a few magazines of your acquaintance?

CRTC announces cross-media ownership rules that change little, or nothing

The Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) has brought in new regulations that won't change media concentration in Canada. That's right, won't. Media owners cannot own more than two outlets (say local television and radio stations) in one market...unless they already own more than two outlets in one market. According to a story on, if a media group did own two or more local outlets and wanted to purchase another (a newspaper, say, or a magazine), they would have to sell one of their original holdings.

While this new regime by the broadcast regulator may have some impact on future deals, it leaves in place all existing media conglomerates and exempts "national" outlets like the Globe and Mail and the National Post.

The new regulations are the outcome of hearings held over the past year as the result of two high-profile takeover deals: CanWest Global's purchase of Alliance Atlantis Communications; and CTV's acquisition of Chum Ltd. But, of course, neither of these deals is affected, which makes the new regulations something of a non sequitur.


Toronto Life Square called
"crime against urbanity"

This is probably not what St. Joseph Media had in mind when it shelled out for the rights to name the building at the corner of Yonge and Dundas Toronto Life Square after its flagship magazine.

Toronto Star architecture writer Christopher Hume wrote that the developer, PenEquity "has committed not just an offence against good taste, but a crime against urbanity."

While applauding the move of CITY-TV to another site on Dundas Square, Hume goes on:
As for Toronto Life Square, the best hope is that much of the unrelieved grey of its surfaces will eventually be hidden beneath the advertising that will provide whatever identity it has. Indeed, the building might best be understood as an armature for video screens, billboards and the like.

There's no shame in background buildings – that's what most urban structures are – but they need to be well designed, decently appointed and, above all, part of the larger whole. At Yonge and Dundas, they also need to define the square, which is, after all, an open space surrounded by buildings.

Unfortunately, Toronto Life Square (whose original name, Metropolis, made a lot more sense), looms over the square ominously, too big for the corner and barely contained within its site.

The industrial references – exterior fans and exposed air ducts – seem singularly inappropriate in this context. If the designers were going for a Pompidou Centre-like mechanical aesthetic, which could have been fun, they failed. Perhaps because of the grey exterior, which some might see as urban camouflage, and the easy awkwardness of its utilitarianism, the building takes on a strangely military quality. It could be a post-apocalyptic battlefield headquarters, or something built for the permanent warfare envisioned by Orwell in 1984.
[UPDATE] A discussion/debate on the Sounds Like Canada radio program on CBC on Tuesday contrasted the views of Hume (pretty much what he is saying above and in his article) and Toronto Councillor Kyle Rae, who has for 5 years championed the renovation of Yonge-Dundas Square. Rae defended the use of the building on the northeast corner as an armature for giant advertising screens, as being exactly what they envisioned. We're not sure he helped his case by comparing it to "a fridge, with fridge magnets on it" or "Bladerunner". (It was interesting that while defending the building and saying Hume should relax and wait until it is covered with ad screens, he said the city was dismayed that the building on one corner was confusingly named Toronto Life Square in an apparent effort to rebrand the entire square. Rae says the city remonstrated with St. Joseph that the building was not the square, but to no effect.)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Quote, unquote: Printing history and Quebecor World's troubles

Quebecor World has provided publishers and catalogers with a valuable service for a long time, they have kept the cost of printing competitive. IF RRD, Quad and other large printers had their way, our costs would be significantly higher. To rationalize where Quebecor World is today, we have to take history into account.

First lets realize that the US plants started as WA Krueger, then became Ringier America and then World Color before becoming Quebecor World. Lets talk about the fact that the previous owners were interested in making money by any means and did not keep up with technology or invest in their infrastructure.

Lets face it, by the time Quebecor purchased World Color, the plants and equipment were becoming obsolete and were in desperate need capital expenditures and improvements. Lets think about the determination and faith that it took to consolidate plants and purchase a huge amount of equipment to bring them up to today's quality and efficiency levels. They accomplished this in a remarkably short period of time and while there were specific problems along the road they have reached the pinnacle only to have the financial bridge for the cost of modernization collapse.
-- an anonymous industrial supplier, commenting on the BoSacks blog about the problems faced by magazine printer Quebecor World.


Hard choice may lead to hard time
for pot publisher Emery

Marc Emery, the self-styled "Prince of Pot" and the publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine (read earlier posts), has apparently accepted a plea bargain that will allow him to serve a 5-year prison sentence in Canada rather than face the near-certainty of being extradited and serving 20 years in the U.S.

According to a column by Ian Mulgrew in the Vancouver Sun, Emery felt he had no choice if he was possibly to save his co-accused associates and if he was to avoid a draconian sentence under U.S. drug laws.

The three -- Emery, Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams -- were arrested in Canada in August 2005 at the behest of U.S. authorities and charged for mail-order sales of marijuana seeds, even though none had ventured south of the border. Since then, they have been awaiting the extradition hearing, which is scheduled for next week. With the proceedings about to begin, Emery says his lawyer brokered the best deal possible.

Emery is frustrated by the Hobson's Choice he was faced with.

If accepted by the courts in both countries, Emery said he will serve the full term and not be eligible for Canada's lenient get-out-of-jail-early rules. [wrote Mulgrew]

"I'm going to do more time than many violent, repeat offenders," he complained. "There isn't a single victim in my case, no one who can stand up and say, 'I was hurt by Marc Emery.' No one."

The deal he was presented with by his lawyers followed years of cocking a snook at authorities on both sides of the board; everything from a full-press publicity campaign, to running for office in many different jurisdictions to sending his marijuana seed catalogue to MPs every year. It has been a prolonged crusade for the legalization of marijuana and it has angered the anti-drug law-enforcement community. Canadian authorities refused to prosecute Emery, but have executed a warrant against him and his two longtime lieutenants, on behalf of the U.S. authorities.

While he has long seemed to court martyrdom, Emery is by no means sanguine about what is happening. He is angry at local lawyers for failing to come up with a viable defence.

"They had two years and $90,000 and they came up with nothing," he fumed. "John Conroy called me up and said 'take the deal - Michelle will die in jail. Michelle will die in jail!' What can I say to that?"

Rainey, who has a medical exemption to smoke marijuana, has Crohn's disease. Incarceration in the U.S. would deprive her of her medicine, and she fears it could lead to her death....

"It's an ugly situation but Marc expects miracles," Kirk Tousaw, one of the lawyers involved, told me. "There aren't any here."

Here's The Canadian Press coverage of the same story.