Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rogers wireless subscribers offered free 3-month subs to Rogers magazines

The power of cross-promotion is well demonstrated by a current offering to Rogers wireless subscribers (i.e. people with Rogers cellphone plans) who are being offered a "customer appreciation gift" -- a free, three-month subscription to one of several Rogers publications, including Chatelaine, LouLou and Canadian Business. It will be interesting to know what kind of retention offer those subscribers get when their three months are up...[Disclosure: I am not a Rogers wireless subscriber.]

Maclean's department of the crashingly obvious...

Maclean's issue on newsstands December 4, names Barack Obama as the magazine's "Newsmaker of the Year".

Friday, November 28, 2008

Time Inc. consolidation means it will now largely serve Europe from New York

Time Inc. says it will continue to have a European editorial presence, based in London, but for all practical purposes, the company's consolidation means than the magazine will be produced in New York. (Michael Elliott, the editor of Time International, has been based in New York since 2006.) This follows the announcement of 600 redundancies, according to a report in, based in part on reporting by Keith Kelly of the New York Post.

Time told staff last week it was cutting 20 jobs, or two-thirds of its London-based Time Europe team.It will also shut down its Sydney, Australia editorial bureau (though keeping 30-person ad sales team) and do away with a separate edition for the South Pacific region, though serving that readership with the Asia Pacific edition.

Zoomer magazine reports $402k loss on $1.7 million in revenue

ZoomerMedia Limited has announced that for the quarter ended September 30, 2008, the Company had revenue (including its magazine) of $2,539,172 and expenses of $3,214,022 with a net loss after tax of $674,850. These results are coincident with the launch of Zoomer magazine; the company says they are in line with the company's 2009 business plan.

Data released for the publishing side indicate the loss for the quarter on the magazine was approximately $402,000, including revenue for the associated website. Essentially, it means that the startup is responsible for about 2/3 of the quarterly loss.

Before the company was taken over by entrepreneur Moses Znaimer, and before the magazine was launched, the comparable quarter ended September 30, 2007 showed revenue of $1,296,090 and expenses of $1,224,381 with a net income after tax of $71,709.

According to a release by the company, magazine advertising revenue for the quarter was $1,067,698 versus $868,237 for the comparable quarter last year. This increase of $199,461 (23.0%) is a result of increased advertising pages sold in the re-launched version of Zoomer magazine. Subscription revenue was $300,026 versus $395,124 for the comparable quarter last year. "This decline of $98,098 (24.1%) is attributable to the decline in our subscriber base," the company said, essentially acknowledging that some of the previous subscribers to CARP magazine, from which Zoomer was evolved, have fallen away. Revenue from the revitalized website was $354,882; the company said that page views had increased 60% in the past year.
  • Circulation expenses were $140,494 versus $64,880 for the comparable quarter last year, an increase of $75,614 (116.5%) due to significant circulation expenses incurred in newsstand and other promotion of the relaunch of Zoomer magazine while no such expenditure was incurred in the comparable quarter last year.
  • Editorial expenses $594,970 versus $216,497 for the comparable quarter last year, an increase of $378,473 (174.8%) due to additional personnel hires for the re-launch of the magazine as well as increased expenditures for freelance writers and photographers in the premiere issue of the re-launched magazine.
  • Production expenses were $813,182 versus $540,504 for the comparable quarter last year, an increase of $272,678 (50.4%) as a result of printing and distributing a significantly larger re-launch issue of Zoomer magazine including 50,000 newsstand copies.
  • Sales expenses were $576,404 versus $144,252 for the comparable quarter last year, an increase of $432,152 (299.6%). As at September 30, 2008, the Company had cash and short term deposits on hand of $1,107,851 (June 30, 2008 - $2,233,536) and working capital (excluding the current portion of deferred revenue) of $2,675,174 (June 30, 2008 - $2,887,318).
Zoomer was launched this fall and says it has a paid circulation of approximately 190,000 and places a further 50,000 copies on newsstands; as a result total paid circulation is probably in the area of 225,000. Aside from Zoomer, the company's key property is the website . It also manages CARP, Canada's association for the 45+, with 350,000 members.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Canadian Architect magazine critical of choice, display of Venice Biennale exhibit

A commentary in Canadian Architect magazine is sharply critical of Canada's contribution this year to the Venice Biennale of Architecture. Writer Rodney LaTourelle is critical of the way the Canadian pavillion installation was displayed and the way in which this particular entry was chosen.

(Called 41° to 66°: Architecture in Canada--Region, Culture, Tectonics, curated by Marco Polo and John McMinn and created in collaboration with the Cambridge Galleries, the exhibit has just closed.)
Employing a variety of media including interactive video, graphic panels that also incorporate models, a landscape diorama, and other projections, the curators also reconfigure the existing exhibition by including four new projects. Yet in the Biennale context, 41° to 66° does not stand out as innovative, and its mandate to portray the links between sustainable technology and references to local culture and building tradition is not facilitated by its crowded and confusing installation....

While it is certainly debatable whether or not 41° to 66° was the best choice for the Canadian pavilion, it was selected by the Canada Council only after the two initial proposals formally submitted to the jury were passed over, and it is rather unique with respect to the contemporary Canadian architectural scene. Exploring the breadth and diversity of the country, the curatorial approach also reinforces the connection between regional strategies and sustainability. This regional approach points out the characteristic multiplicity in Canada necessitated by the vast geography, but in terms of Canadian culture, the fact that there are so few exhibitions such as this one reveals our characteristic lack of communication between regions and an ongoing provincialism. Moreover, the surprising dearth of entries to represent Canada in Venice may indicate the underfunding provided to this initiative, but also seems to point out a seriously deficient vitality at this level.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving march kicks off 100th year of Good Housekeeping seal of approval

If ever there was a magazine that nailed branding, it was Good Housekeeping, with its eponymous Seal of Approval, a term that has entered common parlance. Well, that little exercise in brand building and limited product guarantees for readers is about to turn 100 years old.

To commemorate the milestone, says a company release, Good Housekeeping has redesigned the seal and will be showing it off on a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Noted graphic designer Louise Fili was selected to re-imagine the Good Housekeeping Seal. Fili, who has designed logos for brands including Tiffany & Co., retains the oval shape and signature star that have made it the most widely recognized and respected consumer emblem in America, freshening it with a font that is modern and clean, yet recalls the Seal’s history at the same time.
The magazine plans a year of seal-related features both in print and online. The magazine is going to present a year of seal-related features in print and online.

The Good Housekeeping Seal was first established to protect consumers from adulterated “remedies” and tainted food products and today it is being used for an increasing number of product claims such as anti-aging, low-fat, organic, pesticide-free, and environmentally-safe.

250 exhibitors at Montreal mag, book and zine fair this weekend

There are 250 publishers, comic artists, magazine and small press exhibitors in both French and English at Expozine, Montreal’s annual small press, comic and zine fair, this Saturday and Sunday, 29th and 30th, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Over the past 7 years it has become one of North America's largest book and magazine fairs; the admission-free event is held at 5035 St-Dominique (Église Saint-Enfant Jésus, between St-Joseph and Laurier, near Laurier Métro).

Among the many magazine exhibitors will be Ascent magazine, Broken Pencil, Matrix, Drawn & Quarterly, Fish Piss magazine, Place magazine, Worn Fashion Journal and The Feathertale Review. See the whole exhibitor list here.

Chronicling The End, a superb piece of long-form magazine journalism

(photo illustration by Ji Lee)
If you ever want to know what good magazines can do to make sense of the world, I can recommend to you the article The End by Michael Lewis in Portfolio. It's long form magazine journalism at its best and explains what went wrong in the financial markets by exploring who knew it was going to go wrong and how they profited by it. Lewis, who wrote the excellent book Liar's Poker, is bound to turn this into a book, too. But the beauty of magazine writing is that you get to read it now. The cover illustration of the piece says it all. [Thanks to David Hayes for alerting me to this piece.]


Magazines Ontario receives funding to create "digital newsstand" for its members

The Magazines Ontario division of Magazines Canada has received a grant from the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s (OMDC) Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund to help fund the creation of a digital newsstand.

The program, called Digital Discovery, will allow member magazines – with a particular emphasis on those from Ontario – to create digital editions of their titles, with the aim to generate additional revenue and increase readership.
“This exciting project will allow magazine creators to take more homegrown content to the world,” said Magazines Ontario /Canada CEO Mark Jamison. “This is truly a public-private partnership because with each dollar invested by the Ontario government today, the industry will immediately invest another $3. The return begins right away.”
The two-year project will involve Magazines Canada engaging a seasoned service provider for the project, to help its members access new markets, improve customer satisfaction and keep pace with trends in new media and mobile technology.

The total granted to 16 projects under the program amounts to over $3 million, according to releases from Magazines Canada and the OMDC. The amount granted to Magazines Ontario has not been specified.

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Alberta magazine bundles designed for
sub shopping

Magazine subs are a tried-and-true Christmas gift. The Alberta Magazine Publishers Association has found a way to "bundle" those mag-a-gifts by category and throw in a nifty premium to sweeten the deal. Subscribe for any two magazines from a bundle, get 15% off; any three and get 25% off. AMPA will send a gift card and a custom made fridge magnet (see above) in time for December 25. And they'll bill you.

There are several, themed bundles: arts and literary; food and wine; business; family life; animal lovers; sports and recreation; and social/political.

As but one example, the arts and literary bundle allows gifters to choose from among the following titles:danDelion, Filling Station, Legacy, Other Voices, Penguin Eggs, Prairie Journal, Galleries West, and Canadian Scrapbooker.

Details on other bundles and ordering information.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Key staff carry on with Ontario Out of Doors under OFAH ownership

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters has announced that, when it takes over Ontario Out of Doors magazine from Rogers Media, effective December 19, three of the magazine's current staff will still be running it, according to a release from the company.
  • John Kerr becomes editor-in-chief, moving up from executive editor. He has been writing for OOD since 1976.
  • Ray Blades continues as Associate Editor. He joined the magazine in 1996 to create the highly popular websites and
  • Art director Tamas Pal, who joined OOD in 2004 remains in his position under the new ownership.

"The O.F.A.H. is delighted that three strong, experienced and well known outdoors enthusiasts will lead Ontario Out of Doors magazine as it moves to the O.F.A.H.," said Executive Director Mike Reader, who becomes publisher. "With John, Ray and Tamas in place, we know the magazine is in great hands, and with a strong team of contributing writers and editors, O.O.D. will continue to offer readers the best hunting and fishing publication in the province."

With 83,000 members and 655 member clubs, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters is the leading fishing, hunting and conservation organization in Ontario. (It used to publish OOD until it sold the magazine to Maclean Hunter 16 years ago. In effect it is coming home to be headquartered in Peterborough, closer to the hunting and fishing heartland than the corner of Mount Pleasant and Bloor in Toronto.)

Martha Stewart and Ann Moore (Time Inc.) honoured by U.S. mag industry

Apparently, being a convicted felon is no impediment to being given a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Magazine Editors. It was announced today that Martha Stewart, the founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is being inducted into the ASME Hall of Fame, according to a story in Advertising Age.
"With the launch of Martha Stewart Living in 1991, Stewart created an entirely new magazine category," said Sid Holt, CEO at the editors' society. "The influence of Stewart's editorial vision can be seen at newsstands -- and in homes -- throughout the U.S."

The other major magazine award, the Henry Johson Fisher Award, is being made by the Magazine Publishers of America to Ann Moore, the chair and CEO of Time Inc., according to the same story. (Photo: AP)
"Throughout her career, Ann has shown extraordinary management skills and entrepreneurial drive in developing new magazines and expanding the footprint of the industry's flagship brands," said Nina Link, president-CEO of the MPA. "Ann has transformed Time Inc. not just by successfully launching more titles than company founder Henry Luce, but also by overseeing her company's transition to digital platforms."


CBC accuses Quebeocor Inc. of using
FOI to attack its VP

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation claims that Quebecor Inc. is using freedom of information requests -- 150 so far this year -- to undertake a campaign of personal harrassment against Sylvain Lafrance, CBC's vice-president of French services, according to a story published by Canadian Press.

Tim Casgrain [chair of the CBC board of directors], in a letter to Heritage Minister James Moore, says the CBC has received more than 150 access requests so far this year - and most have come from just two sources.

"We accept that as a public broadcaster, we are vulnerable to our competitors using our accountability against us in a way that distorts our actual behaviour," Casgrain wrote Moore in a letter dated Nov. 21 that was then posted on the CBC's internal web site.

Stories on CBC executive expenses appeared recently in the Sun Media chain and Le Journal de Montreal, both of which are owned by Quebecor Inc.

Quebecor spokesperson Isabelle Dessureault, vice-president of public affairs for Montreal-based Quebecor Media Inc., denied that the newspapers targeted CBC because it was a competitor. "We do not target CBC unfairly."

However, the CP story pointed out that Quebecor chief Pierre Karl Peladeau is pursuing a defamation suit against Lafrance and the CBC after Lafrance was quoted as saying that Peladeau was acting like a "hooligan" last year for withholding contributions to the Canadian Television Fund.

Quebecor Inc., through its TVA division, is the largest magazine publisher in Quebec.

Briarpatch cuts back to 6 issues; wonders what's happening to CMF and PAP?

Briarpatch magazine of Regina, in anticipation of a jump in postal costs has shifted to 6 slightly larger and slightly pricier issues a year from 8, starting in January. It plans to hold the price of a subscription where it is.

Dave Mitchell, the editor, sent a note wondering what is happening in government funding programs:
There's been an eerie silence of late regarding the future of the Publications Assistance Program (from which Canada Post is scheduled to withdraw its contribution in the spring) and the Canada Magazine Fund (which is not even accepting applications for grants for next fiscal year, and which recently scaled back its grant support for, ahem, at least one small Canadian magazine). Does anyone know what's going on? Are we all just holding our breath waiting for the "new" government to announce its intentions for post-March 2009?

When it comes to the ongoing viability of small Canadian magazines, it feels like we're staring over the edge of a cliff as we approach the beginning of the next fiscal year.... Any updates or prognostications on what we might expect or what we can do to prepare would be most welcome.
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ON Nature magazine unveils new look

ON Nature, the quarterly magazine of Ontario Nature (Federation of Ontario Naturalists)has an updated look unveiling with its current issue. The redesign was carried out by Levi Nicholson, who has been art directing the magazine since the spring of 2007. (Nicholson works now for Zaxis Communications). The new look is above right; the former look (Winter '07) is below.

Victoria Foote, the editor of ON Nature and director of communications for Ontario Nature, based in Toronto, says:
The result is a cleaner, more polished magazine that showcases the photography well (an important element in a nature periodical) without sacrificing room for copy.ON Nature now has an authoritative “look” yet is still visually (and editorially) quite accessible.

And the timing for a re-design is good: as advertisers become more choosey about where to place shrinking ad dollars, now is the time to present an increasingly appealing product to justify their investment.


Quote, unquote: Have U.S. magazine publishers lost their faith?

Retrenching during an economic contraction is one thing. But starving and killing off your brands one by one -- and refusing to invest adequately in the transition from print to web -- suggests that you're simply abdicating. You've lost faith in what you do. You've lost faith in publishing.
-- Advertising Age columnist Simon Dumenco, asking, in a hard-hitting column, whether big U.S. magazine publishers believe in the business anymore.


Reader's Digest Association creating multimedia platform aimed at Christians

Reader's Digest Association is entering into a joint venture to produce "an inspirational multimedia platform" aimed at a Christian audience, including a magazine, DVDs and a "Facebook for Christians", according to a story carried by Folio:. RDA called it the "most important and far reaching ventures ever" for the company.

The new venture will roll out beginning in February, in partnership with Dr. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and the author of the best-selling book "Purpose Driven Life."

Mary Berner, who has made many changes since taking over as president and CEO of RDA (including suggesting changing the company's name) said the venture was "an expression of our vision for the company's future...Platforms are things that we excel in: magazine creation and publishing, and, increasingly, digital media."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Economist publisher & Hong Kong design guru to headline MagNet

The MagNet magazine conference in June (2 - 5 in Toronto) will be headlined by a presentation by Paul Rossi, the publisher of the Economist magazine, it has been announced. A release from Magazines Canada says other highlight presenters will be Tommy Li, the international design guru from Hong Kong and three top Canadian independent publishers: Marion Lavigne, publisher and founder of Yellowknife-based Up Here and Up Here Business; Ruth Kelly, owner and publisher of Alberta Venture and Unlimited magazine and Sheila Blair-Reid, owner and publisher of Halifax-based MetroGuide Publishing.


Hugh McCullum "risked all for a just cause"

If an obituary can be inspiring, the Globe and Mail's tribute to Hugh McCullum in today's paper certainly is. McCullum, who died in October of pancreatic cancer, was well-known as the crusading editor of The United Church Observer magazine and, before that the Canadian Churchman (Anglican Church). He was the first layperson to edit both and, notes the article, "was credited with infusing the outlets with a degree of editorial autonomy, prodding and issuing calls to arms in the battles against injustice, famine, disease and poverty." He won three National Magazine Awards for his work.

In addition to his magazine work, he was also an author, television host and all-round hell-raiser who disdained bogus "objectivity" and made no apologies for being an "evermore infuriated bystander".

As a peripatetic war correspondent covered some of the world's most grisly events, including the Biafra War, the Rwandan genocide and the war in Mozambique. His experiences made him a passionate critic of lame, hypocritical western journalism and governments and a passionate advocate on behalf of the disadvantaged. He spent most of recent years in Africa and returned to Canada in 2002.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Might American editors bow to ad pressure and loosen ad:edit guidelines?

The American Society of Magazine Editors is revising its ad:edit guidelines and according to a story published by MediaDaily News, it appears that straitened circumstances (i.e. total ad pages down 8.5% at over 200 weekly and monthly titles tracked by MIN Online) in the magazine business may cause ASME to consider loosening its restrictions on integration of advertising into magazine covers and headlines. The new rules would be published for ASME board approval by about mid 2009.
The exact substance of the changes--stricter or looser standards--is unclear. On the one hand, ASME's current chief executive Sid Holt conceded: "We've had situations where we've seen violations of the spirit of the guidelines, but not the guidelines themselves"--seeming to suggest that new stringency is in order. On the other hand, "we want them to be more industry-friendly in that they make sense to editors and advertisers alike."
Advertisers have been especially aggressive in demanding mingling of advertising and editorial content, said the article, citing:
  • A blinking, flashing electronic display designed by E-ink and sponsored by Ford, although Ford was not mentioned on the cover. The high-profile cover led directly to a Ford ad spread in the front of the magazine that takes credit for the innovative front.
  • The August 10 issue of The New York Times Magazine with a cover wrap purchased by U.S. Trust, Bank of America's private-wealth management division, to promote its philanthropic financial products.
  • Last December, New York magazine sold a four-page cover wrap to the New Museum.
  • Last year, Harper's Bazaar delivered 5,000 VIP copies that came embedded with "crystals"--courtesy of Swarovski, also an advertiser.
  • In 2005, The New Yorker produced a single-sponsor issue for Target that incorporated the Target logo's distinctive red-and-white coloring on the cover as well as inside the magazine.
There is no suggestion that the equivalent Canadian ad:edit guidelines will be loosened up.

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Zinio launches a digital magazine sharing program that it calls "a game changer"

Zinio, the digital publishing company, has released a new service that it considers "a game changer" -- a program that allows web users free access to search content in 1,000 different magazines served by Zinio and share the pages with social networking sites.

The system is called Zinio INSIDE and it enables readers to send digital replicas of magazine pages to friends and family via email, post favorite articles to sites such as Facebook, Digg, or MySpace, even embed content on a blog or website.

Jeanniey Mullen, chief marketing officer and global EVP of said: "We are enabling traditional brands the opportunity to reach a potentially limitless world of current and new readers without the expense of paper, printing, postage, or transportation."

A preview of the service is available here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Worn magazine issue launches with a
"slow dance" party

Worn, the unorthodox and eclectic twice-a-year fashion magazine, has launched a new website today, on the eve of its 7th issue (seen at right), which is being mailed to subscribers December 1. The magazine moved from Montreal to Toronto this summer.

"Editor-in-pants" and publisher Serah-Marie McMahon says the magazine has imported from Montreal more than its attitude, but also its successful launch strategy -- a "slow dance" party on Saturday, November 29th at Dovercourt House, 805 Dovercourt Road. $10 gets a copy of issue 7 and a dancecard. There are only two rules, they tell us: dress up; and dance slow.

Bill Kaluski, a great friend of the industry, to retire from CDS Global December 15.

The staff at CDS Global Inc. (formerly Indas), Canada's largest fulfillment house, has been told that Bill Kaluski, the president and chief executive officer, is retiring December 15. No word yet on who will replace him.

Kaluski, whose influence has been felt as a major booster for the magazine industry in general and various professional development and industry events such as the National Magazine Awards, presided over the merger of Indas Ltd. into CDS in 2003 and its rebranding under the global corporate name a little over a year ago. (Pictured above is Kaluski with the Association of Circulation Executives (ACE) Special Award he received in 2007 for the exceptional ongoing support of the CMC and the publishing industry as a whole.)

[Disclosure: CDS Global advertises on this blog, something else that we can thank Bill for.]

CPM disparity means trading digital pennies for print dollars

An interesting column in Folio: about the paradoxical spectacle of some magazine companies, while saying that digital is a large part of their future,cutting digital staffs with almost the same alacrity as traditional print publication staff. Matt Kinsman writes:
The problem for consumer publishers are the financials. While publishers have long spoken of online revenue being smaller but more profitable, it's hard for larger publishers with six-figure (or more) print deals to be excited about five-figure online deals. In a recent article on's Big Money, Lesley Blume wrote that one media expert estimates that an online CPM is worth between one-seventh and one-tenth of a print CPM. "That means that swapping out online-for-print publication right now literally amounts to trading in dollars for pennies—which is hardly an alluring prospect for publishing companies used to commanding lavish ad revenues."

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Style at Home seasonal entertaining
videos build traffic

Style at Home magazine is enjoying major success with a website series of "how to" videos on holiday decorating and entertaining, according to a report in Media in Canada. got 224,000 unique visitors and 1.4 million page views in October. The step-by-step instructional videos feature advice from industry experts, and can be found at

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Canadian Business Press buys the Magazine University name

Canadian Business Press (CBP), the service and lobbying group for many of Canada's trade publications has purchased the rights to the name Magazines University from North Island Publishing along with an associated web property. The deal means that CBP will continue running the annual Mags U event (and, possibly some sort of trade show) that had previously been co-produced with North Island's magazine Masthead, which is folding by year's end. The deal was reported yesterday by Masthead.

That would mean there will continue to be two June events offering professional development seminars to the magazine industry, the other being MagNet, run by a partnership of Magazines Canada, the Canadian Circulation Marketing Association (CMC) and the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors (CSME), the Professional Writers Association of Canada, the Canadian Authors Association and associated with the various provincial magazine associations and the Editors Association of Canada and .

“We are pleased that CBP will continue the Mags U tradition,” said North Island president Alexander Donald. “We have been great partners for many years, and we feel this agreement that clarifies ownership is in the best interests of both Mags U and the industry at large.”

“The Magazines University trademark is very important to us at the CBP because the name has been associated with quality and excellence within the magazine publishing community,” said Alex Papanou, Chair of the CBP. “The CBP and its partners will continue to provide our industry with a quality event that we can all be proud of.”

Interestingly, the name Magazines University is only North Island's to sell because it trademarked the brand in 2002 to the surprise of its then partners. The collaborative and cooperative approach that had begun many years before soon deteriorated. Magazines University had been launched in 1992 as a collaboration between the Canadian Periodical Publishers Association (the predecessor to Magazines Canada) and Masthead and later involved other partner organizations to a greater or lesser degree, including CBP and CMC. The industry associations provided the seminars and Masthead ran a trade show and a joint working group shared marketing, costs, revenues and responsibility for the event.

CBP's move is complicated somewhat by the fact that Rogers Media trade publications have left the organization and joined Magazines Canada and the MagNet conference will be offering a range of b2b-related seminars.

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B2B publishing comes to a fork in the road

Business-to-business media companies have two, possible, future paths to profitable revenue growth,according to a study released at the American Business Media top management meeting in Chicago.

The paths, which will seem self-evident to anyone who is on top of their game in the b2b sector, are essentially serving marketers or serving readers. Of the two, serving readers (end users) with content, data, applications and services, gives a slight edge to companies over those who emphasize traditional advertising, marketing and custom services to marketers. The report apparently doesn't say whether one path is preferable over another.

The study, by Booz & Co. will not be released outside the membership of ABM, is intended to help members "fundamentally restructure their business models and operations". However a story in Advertising Age reported some of the study's points.
Matt Egol, a partner at Booz & Co., said the report's recommendations were especially appropriate in the current harsh economic environment, as they suggest the need for "major cost reduction through fundamental changes" and a refocusing on corporate assets and products that map to one or the other paths.

Noting the "significant complexity" and organizational challenges for companies that try to follow both paths simultaneously, Mr. Egol's co-presenter and Booz & Co. partner, Harry Hawkes Jr., said: "We didn't find a single company in the top quadrant." For instance, it would be extremely difficult to task a single sales staff against selling both advertising and database products, they said....
Asked during a Q&A following their presentation -- before ABM members retired to closed-session workshops about the study -- it was clear that many ABM members wondered why they couldn't pursue both paths simultaneously. Some expressed a worry that picking one or the other destiny would deny them a profitable business in the other.
Information from 76 of ABM's 120 media company members was collected for the study. To explain the study to ABM members, Booz said it will hold both webinars and multi-city roundtables.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Transcon RBW plant staffs up to handle rush of Rogers' magazine printing

The RBW division of Transcontinental is in the process of staffing up to handle the workload from its new contract to print 70 magazines for Rogers Media, including Maclean's and Chatelaine. The new hires, 30 entry-level employees, are in addition to 100 full-time employees recently hired. The Owen Sound plant's workforce is now well over 700, according to a radio report.

Brian Reid, the RBW president was recently promoted to president of the printing sector for Transcontinental, but says he'll maintain his residence in Owen Sound, and have offices in Toronto and Montreal.

Transcon bought a portion of Redwood it didn't already own, story says

[This post has been updated] Redwood Custom Communications' parent company in Britain may license the Redwood brand to go into competition with Transcontinental Custom Communications which bought the Redwood North American operations this week.

According to a story in Brand Republic, Transcontinental had been (somewhat quietly) a 50% owner in Toronto-based Redwood CC and the sale was essentially the takeover of the other 50% owned by Omnicom Group.

Omnicom, which is a strategic holding company that manages a portfolio of advertising, marketing services, specialty communications, interactive/digital media and media buying services, wanted to sell because it wants full control of its overseas operations:
While the Canadian business had been profitable every year, according to Redwood, the publisher said it is now keen to have full control over overseas operations.

The offer from Transcontinental means that Redwood will now be free to licence its name in a new North American venture, likely to be in the US, where it will share resources with sister agency network BBDO.

Redwood UK chairman Christopher Ward said: "Our joint venture with the two co-founders, Eric Schneider and Mitch Wine, has been a successful and profitable one, but Redwood now needs more flexibility in the way we service global clients."

"The Omnicom agency network provides an attractive creative alternative to the establishment of multiple publishing centres with duplicated overheads.

"For instance, by launching Mazda's global customer magazine Zoom Zoom in partnership with Proximity Tokyo, we have been able to tap into local intelligence while establishing dedicated creative teams in Mazda's key markets around the world.

"This is the model we will be developing to exploit the growing global opportunities in customer communications, whether in print or digital formats, in the United States as well as other world markets."
Related post:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Do comments add to or detract from the conversation?

An interesting post on a blog we follow occasionally, on the subject of online comments (a subject that has come up more than once here as we have wrestled with whether, or not, to allow anonymous comments). The post on the site Lost Remote, by Don Day, a digital media producer in Boise, Idaho, questions whether comments add any real value to discussion. It refers to a piece from last July that we had missed and which contains the following observation:
In theory, (comments are) a great thing. We’re giving the people a voice! But the reality is that commenting either attracts loathsome people or somehow causes ordinary people to express themselves in a way that is loathsome.

Transcon buys Redwood Custom Communications

[This post has been updated] Montreal-based Transcontinental Inc. has acquired Canada's largest custom publisher, Toronto-based Redwood Custom Communications.

François Olivier, president and cIhief executive officer at Transcontinental, says his company's main goal is to aid customers in reaching and retaining their target audiences, and that Redwood is at the frontier between traditional publishing and direct marketing. Since Transcon was in custom publishing already, the deal moves the company into a dominant position virtually overnight. It's not clear what the deal means to the joint venture deal that Transcon made with British custom publishing firm Seven Squared in August 2007 to create Transcontinental Custom Communications.

Transcon is one of Canada's leading printers and the largest consumer magazine publisher. Among Redwood's clients are Aeroplan, Canadian Automobile Association, Home Depot, Mazda, Procter & Gamble, Sears and Sobey's. Redwood's 130 employees will continue to be led by Eric Schneider, Chief Executive Officer, who retains an undisclosed 25% equity stake.The company has offices in Toronto and New York.

"By partnering with Transcontinental, Redwood Custom Communications has the opportunity to grow its relationship marketing business and deliver incremental value to its clients," said Eric Schneider in a release. "Our team is thrilled about the opportunities ahead of us."

[UPDATE: Some excellent follow-up reporting by Marco Ursi at Masthead adds texture to the story, including the fact that essentially the Redwood brand will eventually disappear under the Transcontinental brand and that Transcon, predictably, will gradually take over all of the printing of Redwood custom pubs that has heretofore been done by competitors like Quebecor and St. Joseph.]


Monday, November 17, 2008

Magazine world view

Our occasional links to stories of interest from outside of Canada.

Love letters contest to celebrate Walrus 5th anniversary

In celebration of its 5th anniversary, The Walrus magazine in association with Vintage Canada is holding a contest that invites all comers to write a love letter.

The contest coincides with the paperback publication of Four Letter Word, a collection of fictional love letters edited by Joshua Knelman (the former fiction editor of The Walrus) and Rosalind Porter.

The book has already been published in 8 languages and in 11 countries and contains 41 original love letters from some of Canada's best-known writers, including Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Douglas Coupland, Miriam Toews, David Bezmozgis, Joseph Boyden, and MG Vassanji.

The rules are simple. Maximum length, 500 words that may be fiction or thinly disguised real life. Entries close on Valentine's Day, 2009.
Maybe you need to confess your love to Britney Spears, or to the Prime Minister of Canada, or to your favourite pair of designer jeans. Perhaps a sonnet to youThe winning love letter will be announced on March 1, 2009. The letter that wins the judges' hearts will earn a $1,000 GRAND PRIZE, as well as another $1,000 in prizes from Deutsche Grammaphon. The letter will also be published on the Walrus website. Perhaps a sonnet to your trusted neighbourhood tailor who so carefully patched the hole in your football jersey from high school. Or the girl you never had the nerve to actually talk to in high school. Maybe it's a love letter to Free Market Capitalism. No one will judge you (Actually, we will. This is a contest after all).
Joshua Knelman was a founding staff member of The Walrus magazine. His writing has appeared in The Walrus, Toronto Life, TORO, Saturday Night, Quill & Quire, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. He lives in Toronto.

Rosalind Porter is a senior editor at Granta Magazine and has written for the Spectator, the Times Literary Supplement, the Financial Times Magazine and Time Out. She lives in London.


Last manuscript standing wins in Broken Pencil writing contest

There seem to be many variations on writing contests, but one laden with irony is the Broken Pencil Indie Writers Deathmatch, a readers-choice contest in which one story emerges triumphant in what the magazine about 'zines says is "culture's bloodiest fiction contest". Plus, of course, it helps to build both the exchequer and readership as entries are $20 and include a one-year sub to Broken Pencil. The deadline for entry is December 31.

A short list of eight finalists is winnowed down by readers' online votes and the winning story is printed in the magazine and the writer receives $300. Second, third and fourth place finalists will also be published, at the magazine's standard payment.

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Readership not the problem at Wish and Gardening Life; just not enough advertisers

About 20 people will lose their jobs at St. Joseph Media with the imminent closure of Wish and Gardening Life, according to an interview with Doug Knight, president, interviewed by Masthead magazine. Knight said that the closure was the "prudent" course in the face of an expected protracted advertising slump. The emphasis has to be on big and established titles lke Toronto Life and Fashion. "They'll be absolutely fine through this."
“The irony in all of this, is that this is not a problem of readership,” Knight said. “Readers love the magazines. Gardening Life had one and a half million readers. But if you look at the category: Conde Nast shut down House and Garden after 106 years of publishing…Fabulous audience. Great demographics. Enormous reader interest. Beautiful magazines. But advertisers were just not there in sufficient volume to support the magazines over time.”
Related posts:

Quote, unquote: our real business

"In this coming century, the form of delivery may change, but the potential audience for our content will multiply many times over. Our real business isn't printing on dead trees. It's giving our readers great journalism and great judgment."

-- Rupert Murdoch, quoted in the Guardian from an Australian radio address.


Not such a mystery; just produce an interesting magazine

The Globe and Mail today publishes a story about the fifth anniversary of Vancouver Review magazine but, yet again, manages to damn the entire magazine sector with faint praise. Vancouver novelist Timothy Taylor starts his story thus:
One of the great mysteries of our day is how anyone survives in the magazine business.
Then goes on to catalogue how visionary partners, editor Gudrun Will and creative director Mark Mushet, combined 20 issues of great content, created with a quirky sensibility into an enviable audience in a vibrant city. So not such a mystery after all, eh Tim?


Canadian firms win big at custom
publishing awards

Custom publishing has a different vocabulary to reflect its goals. Hence its awards reflect those goals, with categories that other magazine awards wouldn't use (e.g. best achievement of corporate objectives; proof of return on investment). Still, in this major, growing, marketing industry, Canadian publishing expertise is making major waves.

Last week, the Custom Publishing Council's "Pearl awards" were made in a presentation at the Rainbow Room in New York City. And Redwood Custom Communications, Spafax Ltd., Transcontinental Custom Publishing and Rogers Publishing Ltd. scored in a number of categories:
Best Opening Spread | More Than 250,000
Silver: Zoom-Zoom, Redwood Custom Communications (Mazda Canada Inc.)

Best Overall | More than 250,000
Silver: Pure Canada, Spafax Canada (Canadian Tourism Commission)
Bronze: Shine, Transcontinental Custom Communications (Dove/Unilever)

Best New Magazine
Bronze: Seasons, Redwood Custom Communications (Ridgetop Communications, LLC)

Best New Newsletter
Silver: RED, Rogers Publishing, Ltd. (RCI)

Best Special Issue
Bronze: Endless Vacation, Story Worldwide (RCI)

Best Use of Photography | 50,000 - 250,000
Silver: EnRoute, Spafax (Air Canada)

Best Use of Photography | More than 250,000
Bronze: Rouge, Javelin Custom Publishing* (Procter & Gamble)

Best Use of Illustration | More Than 250,000
Bronze: New Outlook, Redwood Custom Communications (Sears Canada Inc.)

Best E-Newsletter
Gold: On Air, Spafax Canada (Air Canada)

Best Feature Article/Package |More Than 250,000
Gold: Look Good Feel Better, Transcontinental Custom Communications (The Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association Foundation)

Best Overall More Than 250,000
Gold: Acura Style, Javelin Custom Publishing (American Honda Motor Company Inc.)
Bronze: Pure Canada, Spafax Canada (Canadian Tourism Commission)

Best New Magazine
Silver: Mobile, Spafax Canada (Bell Mobility)

Best Tie-in with Corporate Integrated Marketing Campaign
Silver: Shine, Transcontinental Custom Communications (Dove/Unilever)

Best Achievement of Corporate Objectives | B2C
Bronze: Look Good Feel Better, Transcontinental Custom Communications (The Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association Foundation)

Proof of Return on Investment
Silver: Mobile, Spafax Canada (Bell Mobility)

Best Launch or Relaunch | B2C
Silver: Show** Magazine, Spafax Canada (Bell TV)

*Javelin Custom Publishing is a differently branded division of Redwood.
**It was just announced last week that Show is being discontinued.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gardening Life: "there will never be another magazine started to take its place"

Marjorie Harris, the editor-at-large of Gardening Life, the demise of which as abruptly announced last week, reflects in her blog on what the magazine (which started as Toronto Life Gardens) meant to her and what she will miss:
So after eleven years as the central part of my life this wonderful magazine is gone like a puff of smoke. There will be one more issue. I guess it’ll be a collector’s item. But there will never be another garden magazine started to take its place. It’s the economy, stupid old me—I didn’t see that coming. I had the usual journalistic focus of deadlines. But no more.

In those eleven years, I outlived several editors: Mary Anne Brinckman, Kate McDonald and Nancy Jane Hastings. They all died way way too early and I miss them still; outlasted Michael Totzke and Danny Sinopoli; and was swept away along with Caren Watkins last week. We all remain friends and will continue to be so.

And the person who was at the heart of the magazine was Karen York who was the botanical editor. We started together and finished together. She is one of my dearest friends and the editor on all my books of the past 10 years. We provided the horty stuff, the gardeny stuff and the accuracy for which the magazine became known.

The first heady year of being Toronto Life Gardens was like the fulfillment of a dream. We did stuff in this country no one else had ever done: created a magazine that was the most gorgeous, best-read garden magazine in the world. We had writers and photographers clambering to do stuff. We had an art director, Alice Unger, who was simply amazing in the depth of her design talent....

I loved working at the magazine and everywhere in the country when I gave speeches people always referred to it as “my” magazine. It wasn’t at all. The editors (like Caren [Watkins]and Catherine (Therrien]) did the heavy lifting; I worked from home and e-mailed in my suggestions and copy. The art directors changed, the staff stayed for a while and moved on. Karen and I became like leitmotifs.

I’m so distraught I haven’t really had time figure out exactly what I’m doing next but it will involve gardens in every aspect possible. At least that’s one thing no one (can) close down and I should switch to thinking lucky me, because it was a great run and I loved every minute of it.

Related posts:

Quote, unquote: telling the truth about not telling the truth

And so we’ve reached an uncomfortable situation, it seems to me, where the government is committed to keeping information from Canadians, but not to explaining the need for it to do so. Witness the Prime Minister’s “no ransom,” “no political prisoners,” “no dangerous criminals” line when, as Norman Spector observed somewhere on this website, he could far more easily have said national security precluded his discussing it. He’d rather take a thousand-to-one longshot on a half-truth paying off—did he not foresee that Fung might one day tell her own tale?—than be forthright about not being forthright.
-- Maclean's magazine's Megapundit blogger Chris Selley, in a post about the controversy over the clampdown of information about CBC reporter Melissa Fung's kidnapping in Afghanistan. (Selley seems to come down on the side of the argument that it's quite acceptable and understandable to suppress such information, because it's a war.)


Friday, November 14, 2008

Raging Grannies protest "pro-military"
journalism award

A protest is being mounted against a journalism award by a group which feels it encourages pro-military propoganda, according to a post on the J-source website. The Ross Munro award is given by the Conference of Defence Associations in Ottawa, an Ottawa lobby group. It comes with $2,500 in prize money. This year, the award will go to Alec Castonguay from Le Devoir and L’actualité.

The protest is being organized by the Ottawa chapter of the Raging Grannies.

Mark your calendar: coast-to-coast professional development

  • Web Weekend Toronto is Saturday, November 29 and November 30, 2008 (Saturday & Sunday) at Centennial College, The Centre for Creative Communications, 951 Carlaw Avenue, Toronto. It's an intensive, hands-on marketing program created specifically for magazine professionals. Fees are $495 for Magazines Canada members, $595 for non-members, including all coffee breaks, lectures, seminars, course materials and more, with lunch and breakfast provided on both days. Accommodation is not included. [More]
  • National Magazine Awards -- entries will be accepted starting December 1, with this year's deadline January 9. Not too soon to start assembling the entries. This includes the Best Student Writer award.
  • Unlimited magazine and the Chartered Accountants of Alberta are presented Unlisted Summit, November 30 - December 2 at the Banff Centre. It's a professional development conference for Canada's top 20 - 35-year-old professionals and entrepreneurs. For more information.
  • You built it but do they come? with Martin White. A travelling seminar presented by Magazines Canada in collaboration with the British Columbia Association of Magazine Publishers (BCAMP) is to be held December 10, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa, 45 Songhees Road, Victoria. An intensive one-day workshop on increasing magazines' website traffic, subscribers and revenue. Fee is $110 for Magazines Canada and BCAMP members; $190 for non-members. For more information.
  • Small magazine workshops from Magazines Canada and the Atlantic Magazine Association. December 10 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Concurrent sessions, take your pick: Design principles, with Dave Donald; or Making the sale, with Gwen Dunant. Free for members of the AMA; $75 for others; $20 for students. For more information.

Three Canadian mags win big at 28th annual IRMA awards

We're late catching up to the Canadian winners last month in the 28th International Regional Magazines Association (IRMA) awards. IRMA has 43 member magazines, largely regional and tourism-oriented. The 2008 president of the association is Jim Gourlay, the publisher of Saltscapes magazine of Halifax. The Canadian winners were:

British Columbia magazine
  • Gold, travel feature
  • Silver, culture feature
  • Silver, general feature
  • Bronze, environmental feature
  • Bronze, reader service
  • Merit, art direction of a single article
  • Merit, department
  • Merit, cover
  • Finalist, magazine of the year >40,000 circ.
Cottage Life magazine
  • Gold, over all art direction
  • Gold, department
  • Gold, reader service
  • Silver, public issues
  • Silver, illustration
  • Bronze, environmental feature
  • Bronze, cultural feature
  • Merit, general feature
Prairies North
  • Silver, nature feature


Wish and Gardening Life closed by St. Joseph

I realize that this only contributes to the pall that I am struggling against in the post below, but I regret to report that two of St. Joseph Media's magazines, Wish and Gardening Life, are being suspended. A memo to staff from President Douglas Knight, reported in Mastheadonline, says, in part:
The global financial crisis has triggered such a dramatic decline in advertising markets that prudent media companies around the world are evaluating their portfolios and making tough decisions about those brands least able to withstand the downturn.
While the memo praises both titles for their deep connection to their readers, this was apparently not enough. Gardening Life, launched in 1996, had a paid circulation of 72,000; Wish, launched in 2004, had a paid circulation of 83,000. Its ad pages and inserts were actually up 5% in the first three quarters according to Leading National Advertisers Canada and Wish was down 5%. However the St. Joseph decision is doubtless based on prospects for the next quarter and the year to come.

There is no word on how many people will be dismissed as a result of the decision.
“These decisions take nothing away from the pride we share in the creative excellence of both Wish and Gardening Life magazines. Both magazines have been widely praised for the quality of their journalism, photography and design and both magazines have connected deeply with their loyal readers,” Mr. Knight told staff
More later. The complete St. Joseph release.


Take a deep breath, cinch up your belt, get
back to work

I have been noticing an increase in the figurative rending of garments over recent bad news for the magazine industry. In some perverse way, magazine people (and other media people) can't resist an "if it bleeds, it leads" approach and the internet allows instant forwarding of increasingly hysterical reports about vaporizing ad budgets and the end of life as we know it.

This real appetite for gloom and a tendency to ramp up stories with more and more apocalyptic predictions could make you think this was the first recession we've ever seen. Well, it isn't, so snap out of it.

There will be magazines once the dust has settled. There will be readers. There will be newspapers. There will be web sites. There will be advertising. To quote the cartoonist Aislin during a now-long-ago crisis: "Everybody take a Valium".

Yes, there are going to be casualties and nobody can predict exactly who or how, but what can be predicted is that marginal publications with audiences that don't care about them will be the first to go. Sure, you hear about 5% and 10% layoffs at big, New York publishing houses and human nature leads us to the temptation to assume thereby that we are all doomed. But we all need to get a grip and get back to work.

Good magazines will suffer some bruises and may be a bit thinner for a while. Some good publications may not be able to make it, for a variety of reasons and we'll lament that. Some people will lose their jobs -- I'm not sanguine about it, but also not suicidal (perhaps easy for me to say, being self-employed). It will be harder to find entry level jobs but that's true throughout the economy and people who have jobs will find they are asked to do more for not much more or even less.

Creative solutions aren't easy even in the best of times, but we've found them before and will find them again. Belt tightening is in this year. But panic won't do any of us any good. I'm not suggesting that we should avoid unpleasant realities, just not go off half-cocked. I always liked the slogan of the Dead Dog Cafe on CBC Radio:

Stay calm. Be brave. Wait for the signs.

It's not you, it's me...

This requires no comment, a posting by Ian Alexander in a Folio: column:
Dear Advertorial,

I don’t know how to say this nicely but ... it’s just not working.

I’ve tried for years to include you in my circle. I’ve never made you play the uncomfortable host, I’ve sat you in between features and ads and even given you your own tagline: “Special Advertising Section.”

But no matter what I do, you always seem to either want more or blend in covertly and then start passing your card around in the middle of dinner.

It wasn’t until this past week when you mimicked my department style that I realized it wasn’t you, it was me. I should have never trusted you to begin with. I should have kept my editorial editorial and my advertising advertising. We’ve had some good times—the ad cloaked as a story about our trip to the Virgin Islands, the business opportunities in India where I let you interview your friends and those photo-styled dinners we cooked in the new condos on the West Side (remember how we soaked up real estate money when the market was hot?)

All good memories, but times have changed and my analyst says I need to clean up my act and start setting some boundaries. Everyone always told me you were a little shady, a little “local coupon magazine-ish.” I guess they were right.

Best Wishes,



Transcon restructuring creates new marketing communications sector

Transcontinental Inc. has announced a restructuring of its operations that further emphasizes the importance to the company of business other than its core printing and publishing (including being Canada's largest consumer magazine publisher). The result has been various appointments and departures.

Custom publishing and other custom communications, printing of marketing products (flyers etc.), database analytics, premedia, email marketing and one-to-one marketing are being consolidated under the control of Francois Olivier, president and chief executive officer of Transcontinental Inc.. He will act as president of the new marketing communications sector until a new president is appointed. Guy Manuel, President of the former marketing products and services sector will be leaving Transcontinental at the end of 2008.

Olivier said in a release:
"Transcontinental is an outstanding printer and a highly creative publisher, and by delivering marketing solutions to our clients on a range of platforms, we further fulfill our primary mission: to help our customers continue to reach their target consumers."
In addition to creating the new marketing division, Transcon has named Brian Reid President, Transcontinental printing sector; he had been senior vice president of the catalog and magazine group since 2003. The printing sector now groups together services to publishers of newspapers, books and magazines, Transcontinental's U.S. direct mail and Mexican operations and its service offering for retailers.

Hans Nielsen has been appointed President of Transcontinental Direct U.S.A. replacing Rob Young, who has headed Transcontinental's U.S. direct mail operations since 2005.

Transcontinental Media remains under the direction of president Natalie Larivière as Canada's fourth-largest print media group and Canada's leading publisher of consumer magazines with 40-odd titles and a monthly readership of over 11 million. It is also the country's second-largest publisher of community newspapers and distributor of flyers, with a presence in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, eastern Ontario and Saskatchewan. It has 120 websites and portals receive over 4 million unique visitors per month.

The printing sector represents annual revenues for Transcon of about $1.5 billion, the media division about $650 million and the new marketing communications cluster about $400 million.

U.S.magazine prescription drug ads down 20% so far in 2008

Canadian magazine publishers lamenting the unfairness of the fact that their U.S. competitors can carry direct to consumer advertising while they cannot, it may be interesting to know that all is not joy in that sector.

U.S. pharmaceutical advertising in magazines is down almost 20% for the first 8 months of 2008, according to a recent report by TNS Media Intelligence. Prescription drug advertising increased substantially after 1997 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration loosened its rules. But a decline in the development of blockbuster drugs and a cutback on advertising drugs that now have generic equivalents has had its effect.

How good editorial leads to good audience and to good advertising

Editors, the good ones at least, always have their antennae up, sweeping the world for trends and opportunities to serve readers. That critical relationship between readers and advertisers are discussed in another of Magazines Canada's magblast videos, The Power of the Editorial Surround, featuring Lisa Tant, the editor-in-chief of Flare magazine and Kim Pittaway, a magazine writer and consultant.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Maclean's editor Whyte on book tour to resuscitate Hearst's reputation

Ken Whyte, the editor and publisher of Maclean's magazine, is making an extensive tour across Canada, being interviewed at each stop about his new biography called The Uncrowned King: The Sensational Rise of William Randolph Hearst (Random House Canada).

The book attempts to resuscitate the reputation of Hearst who has pretty much been pigeonholed as a robber baron publisher both by his own, often despicable, activities over a lifetime and by the thorough skewering he was given by Orson Welles in the film Citizen Kane.

As such the book, which is not a full biography, but chooses to concentrate on a few formative years at the start of Hearst's long career, is a typically quixotic project, perfectly in keeping with the author's contrarian nature, a style he has imprinted on the magazine he runs. In a press release, Whyte says:
"Biographies of William Hearst tend to present him as a deeply disturbed man who used his power and enormous wealth for selfish, dishonest, and destructive purposes - that's the Citizen Kane version - or as a rich and reckless huckster," says Whyte, founding editor-in-chief of the National Post. "I see him, especially as a young man - the period of life covered in my book - as a great journalist with strong principles who made an enormous difference in journalism and the public sphere, much of it to the good, some of it even heroic."
As an aside, the biographical item that accompanies the press release notes that Whyte "has become one of Canada's premier journalists (no argument there) also having served as editor of the monthly Saturday Night magazine at the peek (sic) of its popularity (there are probably some who would quarrel with that).

At several of the stops across the country, Whyte is being interviewed on stage by the likes of Todd Babiak, Donna McElligott, Ken McQueen, Seamus O'Regan and Mary-Lou Finlay. This royal progression contrasts with most Canadian authors' shoestring tours, even more so given the book's obscure, remote and non-Canadian subject.

(By the way, if Whyte is looking for his next subject he need look no farther than the Florida jail cell of his erstwhile patron, Conrad Black. Resuscitating that reputation would be an even bigger challenge than getting the rest of us to admire William Randolph Hearst.)

Time magazine says Montreal's public bike system rocks

Time magazine has pronounced that Montreal's public bike system is among the 50 best inventions of 2008. It was number 19 on the list.
When lots of people use a communal resource — like, say, a cheap public bicycle-rental program — they tend to abuse it. So when the city of Montreal built its Public Bike System, nicknamed Bixi, the designers packed in all the technology they could find, in a desperate attempt to out-engineer human iniquity. The modular bike-rack stations are Web-enabled and solar-powered. The bicycles are designed with tons of sealed components to resist the savage beatings they will undoubtedly receive, and they're equipped with RFID tags so they're easily trackable. Too bad they can't redesign the riders too.

Magazine world view

Palin story one among many hoaxes by fake institute

Though it has little to do with Canadian magazines, this story is too delicious to pass up. A report in the New York Times says that the much reported, much blogged story about Republican campaign officials saying Sarah Palin didn't know Africa was a a hoax. You can read the story and send our sceptic-o-meters out for a tune-up.

Well, that's one strategy...

"Dailies swim around with an anvil under each arm. One anvil is objectivity and the other is 'family newspaper.' Alt-weeklies have the luxury of publishing writing by adults, to adults, and for adults."....

"I mean, daily newspapers all need to put "fuck" in a headline above the fold one day -- it'll solve all their problems. That's my prescription. And then in one fell swoop they'll get rid of all those 80-year-old subscribers who won't let them drop "Blondie." Catering to the 80-year-olds? Where's that getting newspapers? Making sure there's nothing in your paper that's inappropriate for an eighty-year-old to read?"
-- two separate quotes from a Q & A published by Media Bistro with Dan Savage, the editorial director of Seattle alternative weekly The Stranger and syndicated columnist("Savage Love" is carried by many Canadian alt weeklies).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quote, unquote: Raising rates or walking away from writers

“Magazines will have a choice: Either they raise the fee for that particular job or they walk away from the writer. And believe me, there’s going to be a lot of that going on. Some writers are clearly worth more than they are getting and some writers are not. The writers who are not are not going to get any more.”
-- The Walrus editor John Macfarlane (retired editor of Toronto Life), commenting to Masthead magazine after a discussion about rates and rights hosted by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors.


Magazines Canada hires ad agency to pitch to ad agencies and advertisers

Magazines Canada has hired the ad firm Zulu Alpha Kilo to help promote magazines to agencies and advertisers, according to a story in Marketing magazine.

“The Canadian magazine industry is doing very well serving its readers and advertisers,” said Gary Garland, Magazines Canada executive director, advertising services. “But in this [economic] climate, we determined we needed a strong new promotional tactic to make that point.”

The campaign, about which there are no details yet, should roll out early in the new year

“It’s an interesting challenge,” said Zak Mroueh, Zulu’s founder. “We’re talking to advertisers and media people—a very cynical audience. You have to talk to them in a way that’s very intelligent and to-the-point, but unconventional as well. Consumers are a tough audience, but the industry is an even tougher audience.”

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Style at Home was prepared to accept use of edit page for coffee-maker ad

A product placement gimmick in the current issue of Transcontinental Media's Style at Home magazine could have been in other mainstream consumer magazines had they been more willing to tailor their editorial to make it work, according to the advertiser who pulled the idea off.

The ad uses a stitched-in acetate overlay that, when the page is turned, places a Tassimo coffee maker on the counter of an editorial page featuring a kitchen, making it appear that the high-end machine is sitting on the counter. The headline on the acetate says "All this kitchen needs is a countertop café. According to a story (available on to subscribers) in the current issue of Marketing magazine:
The ad is part of an extensive print campaign for the Tassimo machine that also includes customized advertorials in eight other publications, including Toronto Life, Coup de Pouce and Canadian House & Home.

“I think a natural fallback for many advertisers is television, and in this case we strongly believed that the magazine environment would lend itself beautifully to the communication and [create] breakthrough work,” said Lauren Richards, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group Canada, the agency responsible for the ad. “The equivalent money in TV wouldn’t have had the notoriety and would have been lost in the shuffle.”

The ad is the result of extensive negotiations with Style at Home dating back to April, said Richards. “Others were willing to do it, but we didn’t necessarily have the editorial situation that we thought was going to be perfect for making it work. There was a question of the logistics of actually doing it, the question of willingness to do it, and the question of cost....We’re absolute believers in editorial integrity, and we understand that each [magazine] has to...make decisions on behalf of their readers. Anything we will suggest will respect an appropriate editorial guideline, because we don’t want to do anything that’s going to be tacky, or in your face, or inappropriate, because there’s going to be a backlash for the advertiser.”
Since it was Starcom that brought up editorial integrity and guidelines, let us quote relevant portions of the current Canadian Magazine Industry Advertising-Editorial Guidelines:
  • Adjacency
Advertisements should not be placed immediately before, within or immediately after editorial content that includes mention of the advertised products or services. Exceptions are allowed for listings and contest sponsors.
  • Product Placement
No advertiser may purchase product placement or mention in editorial pages, photographs or illustrations.

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Fulford says when people talk about death of print, they don't mean magazines

A friend attended the Sarah Fulford lecture last night at Ryerson University in Toronto and sends this dispatch:

It was a respectful crowd of mainly students that heard Toronto Life editor Sarah Fulford speak at the School of Journalism's Dean's Lecture Series at Ryerson last night. Apparently, the protest movement that mobilized around her magazine's current cover feature about the murder of 16-year-old AqsaParvez either respectfully avoided the event (unlikely) or never heard about it (more likely).

When one young woman hesitantly asked her about it, Fulford said Toronto Life received "between 80 and 90 calls and e-mails"which were divided roughly evenly between praise and condemnation. And she repeated what she'd said elsewhere, that she was extremely proud of the immigration package and felt that "the most important thing for Toronto Life to be is relevant."

The subject of Fulford's lecture was "In Defense of Magazines: Why They Matter in a Digital Age" and her short answer is they matter "when they're indispensable, irresistible, relevant and current." She said: "When people talk about the death of print, they're really talking about newspapers."

E-readers like Kindle and the Sony Reader, she pointed out, are expensive - Toronto Life costs $4.95 - and don't replicate the tactile pleasures of a magazine's glossy pages. But when asked how important she felt it was for a magazine to be web-integrated, she said "very important but no one [in Canada] has figured out how to financially support it."

Pointing out that New York, the robust U.S. city magazine that's roughly analogous to Toronto Life, has 45 people in its web department, she added:"We have lots of good ideas we think are really groovy but we can't pay people to do them."

At one point, Fulford complained about a very simple and inexpensive kind of technology. She said she thought tape recorders were often so over-used that it resulted in weaker journalism. Over her years as a senior editor at Toronto Life, she said she frequently got first drafts from writers - "even very experienced writers" - that opened with a requisite scene followed by what read like a 3,000 word interview transcription. The reason: "by the time you've transcribed all those interviews you feel like you've done so much work you must be finished."

She encouraged writers to leave tape recorders at home, except when quotes could be so contentious that tape recordings were necessary for legal reasons. A couple of times, Fulford said she liked speaking at Ryerson because she'sasked such thought-provoking questions. One of them was from a woman who asked whether magazines like Toronto Life, which are so prestigious and indispensable to a city, have to always be profitable? Is there a point a company like St. Joseph Media would allow Toronto Life to generate less income, even flatline, but continue to exist because of its cultural significance?

With a rueful smile, Fulford explained that Toronto Life is published "by a privately-owned company so it really comes down to the owner's discretion. I'm sure the owners and directors of the company I work for ask themselves that at every moment."

Going on to talk about the value Toronto Life brings to the city, she added, "But I do work for the company that put an end to Saturday Night magazine."