Thursday, April 30, 2009

Canadian online publishing awards launched

Congratulations to Mastheadonline magazine for launching the first-ever Canadian Online Publishing Awards, a new awards program honouring excellence in online editorial and innovation by Canadian magazine and website publishers. Contest rules are here. Entries cost $50.
The competition is open to English- or French-language online publications based in Canada. The publication must carry some original editorial content (i.e. content published first online), and a minimum average of 80% Canadian editorial content (written and/or edited by Canadians living in Canada). Websites published by daily newspapers, community newspapers, book publishers and broadcasters are not eligible. (Note: "Magazine websites" published by newspaper publishers are accepted.) Websites that are strictly promotional sites or act as a brochure site for a magazine are also ineligible unless they feature some original content written.
There are two divisions -- one for consumer, custom, religious and public associations; one for business-to-business, professional associations, farm and scholarly. Within each division are ten categories:

1. Best overall magazine website

2. Best overall online-only publication website

3. Best website design

4. Best news coverage

5. Best blog

6. Best video feature

7. Best community feature

8. Best online-only article or series of articles

9. Best cross-platform initiative

10. Best e-newsletter

Bobbi magazine closed

What if they stopped publishing a magazine and nobody noticed? The magazine Bobbi has suspended publication, according to a story in Masthead, but in fact the last issue actually reaching the end user was fall 2008. The reason given for the closure (which has been characterized as a suspension): lack of advertising support. While the winter 2009 issue was readied for printing, the company held off pending the recovery of the economy, said Nash Gangli, a company director.

The quarterly,launched in 2006, was aimed at young women and was positioned as the opposite number of UMM (Urban Male Magazine) published by the same company, UMM Inc. At the time of its launch, publisher Abbis Mahmoud claimed it was "the first complete lifestyle and fashion magazine" for Canadian women 17-34.


Um, is this exactly what they mean?

"Greedy CEOs: How executives became obscenely overpaid and what can be done about it. Only in Maclean's." (the heading in a press release)

Condé Nast insiders wondering about how big crucial September issues will be

According to an estimate from Forbes magazine, the Newhouse family's fortune, based on Advance Publications' newspaper and magazine (Condé Nast) empire, has fallen by 50% to $4 billion.

And a number of insiders are reported by Keith Kelly of the New York Post saying that staff at the magazine empire are looking gloomily at July, when most of the big September issues of Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ and Glamour are shipping. The news from each of those this spring has been gloomy enough.

"A bad September will mean they will be forced to take the ax to their huge editorial staffs," said a former Condé Nast executive.

According to Media Industry Newsletter, Vogue through May is down 31 percent in ad pages, while Glamour is off nearly 22 percent. Earlier this decade, both titles battled it out to become Condé Nast's most profitable magazine.

Meanwhile Vanity Fair is down 37 percent, fueled in part by a dizzying 52 percent drop in ad pages in the magazine's May issue.

"Condé Nast is operating the way General Motors did a few years ago," said a former executive. "They are bloated and out of touch with today's market."

With the closure of Portfolio magazine, speculation is ramping up about what's next.

Titles that are on the new endangered species list include Architectural Digest, down 49 percent through May; Allure, down 34 percent; and Wired, down almost 50 percent.

"[Condé Nast Chairman] Si Newhouse has ruled by his gut for many a year but he has always been an ad pages up or ad pages down kind of guy," said the former executive. "They are the only company that has yet to make a penny off of digital -- and they've been at it for over a decade, as long or longer than anybody else."

Added an insider, "Something has happened here that has set the whole place on fire. I don't know if it is just a scared Newhouse family reacting to the economy or if something else has happened. But something seems to be afoot."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Quebec Magazine Awards results

The Quebec Magazine Awards (Concours des Grands Prix 2009 de Magazines du Québec) have been made and the magazines of the year were L'actualité (>50,000 circ.) and à Reflet de Société (<50,000). The Jean Paré prize went to Marie-Hélène Proulx of Jobboom. Above is a group picture of some of the winners.

The full list of awards is available at the Magazines du Québec website.


National Post to stop publishing Mondays for the summer

Saying that it won't result in layoffs, the National Post said today that it will not publish on Mondays for nine weeks this summer in a move to cut costs. The traditionally thin Monday paper, usually thinner still in the summer and, now, made more so by the recession, will stop appearing starting sometime in June, the paper told Reuters.

(No word on whether subscribers will get a 16% rebate on their sub cost. Somehow we doubt it.)

Quote, unquote: the fallacy of the
"print is dead" meme

When I was 20, I wore a T-shirt that said "Don't trust anyone over 30." It seemed to be completely clear at the time. It made so much sense. Anyone who didn't see what I saw was destined for the dustbin of history. I was wrong, but it happens every 40 years or so. 1920s, 1880s,1840s, 1790s. A new cohort enters the global arena. They think the way they see the world is the Truth. It's the error of clarity in a very complex world. The same thing is happening today with young info-junkies so eager to discount print.

-- Michael Josefowicz, in MediaShift on why information junkies are a small tribe and may not have it right when they say print is dead.


Magazine world view

Olive Media to rep Prevention website

Olive Media, the online sales specialist which represents magazine-related health sites such as now is to represent health magazine website in Canada.

According to a story in Media in Canada, the New York-based magazine (published by Rodale) has 11 million readers, and focuses on health, weight loss, fitness and nutrition. The site targets women 40-plus and skews female at 78.3%, receiving an average of 2.2 million unique monthly visitors per month according to Coremetrics.

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Flare asks readers to write about inspiring
fashion moment

Flare magazine is holding a contest for novice writers in celebration of its 30th anniversary.
In 600 words or less [sic] Flare wants you to tell them what fashion moment of the past 30 years has inspired them the most [says the press release]. Seeking writers from coast to coast the "finalist" will be selected from all the entries received and will be judged based upon originality, creativity and the importance of the chosen fashion moment.
Winners get "enviable coverage" in a special 30th anniversary edition, plus a gift basket (worth over $500).


Quote, unquote: On producing tangibility

'I suppose when the history of it all is written, the bankers will get the blame. My father was in the City (he chaired Lloyd's), but I never had any intention of following him. Over the last five years, I had an inflated sense of admiration for bankers - how clever they were to think about money in the abstract. I'm bad at that. Every month, we produce a show - that we fill with as many ads as we can - and then see how many copies we can sell in 31 days. We produce something tangible. whereas what the bankers do proved entirely ... intangible.'

-- Nicholas Coleridge, managing director of Conde Nast UK, quoted in Management Today about this, his third recession


Patrick Walsh of Outdoor Canada named volunteer of the year

It has been announced that Patrick Walsh, Editor of Outdoor Canada, has been named Magazines Canada's volunteer of the year for 2008.

"Pat Walsh is the quintessential industry volunteer," said Mark Jamison, CEO, Magazines Canada in a release. "He is generous with his time and his expertise, and he is curious, always willing to wade into areas that enhance his understanding of the entire magazine business."

Walsh will receive his award at the Magazines Canada Annual Luncheon on Thursday, June 4, 2009 at MagNet, Canada's Magazine Conference at 89 Chestnut in Toronto.

(That's Patrick holding a 16-lb. lake trout; seemed only fitting pic for the editor of Outdoor Canada.)

Walsh sits on two Magazines Canada committees and has been on the board of the National Magazine Awards Foundation for many years and is now its chair.

As chair of the Magazines Canada membership committee, Walsh has presided over a period of great growth and change. He also sat on the MagNet curriculum development committee participation has increased multifold over the years.

Walsh began in magazines 26 years ago as assistant editor of Muskoka Life. He has since worked for a variety of media, both in Canada and abroad, earning numerous writing and editing awards. He is perhapsknown to many for having been editor of Masthead magazine. In 2005, Walsh was named editor of the year by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors, and Outdoor Canada was honoured as magazine of the year.

The volunteer of the year award is made annually by Magazines Canada to one individual whose outstanding volunteer contributions have had a national impact on the Canadian magazine industry.

Rogers Media, including mags, see 73% profit drop in Q1 2009

Rogers Media, which encompasses Rogers Publishing, saw a 73% drop in operating profit and a 7% drop in operating revenue in the first three months of 2009, according to figures released by the company. Revenue was $284 million in Q1, compared with $307 million in the same quarter a year ago. Operating profit was $6 million, compared to $22 million.

The company attributed the results primarily to the soft advertising market at its publishing, television and Shopping Channel divisions. No breakout is provided for its 70 consumer and trade magazines.

In addition to its magazines, Rogers Media includes Rogers Broadcasting (52 radio stations, the Citytv television network, Sportsnet, The Shopping Channel, OMNI television stations, several Canadian specialty channels, the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club and the Rogers Centre.

Overall, buoyed by results in the Rogers wireless and cable arms, Rogers Communications Inc. had a 5% growth in operating revenue ($2.747 billion in Q1 2009 compared with $2.61 billion in 2008). Wireless network revenue was strong and grew by 8% year over year. The "significantly higher" additional acquisition and retention costs of, among other things, the the company's smartphone network -- with approximately 145,000 new customers and 360,000 activations by new and returning customers -- resulted in about a 5% decline in net, adjusted income to $256 million in 2009.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Doom-meister Jarvis is hopeful for (some) magazines

Frequent blogger Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine, the Guardian and the City University of New York is best known for his rather doom-laden posts about the bleak future for newspapers. The author of What Would Google Do? pulls no punches in that department. So it was with some trepidation that I approached his post headed Are magazines doomed too? and found he didn't think so. Though in typical fashion, he puts a sting in the tail of every positive thing he says. Bullish he's not.

As the person who came out of magazines (he founded Entertainment Weekly and was a critic for TV Guide and People magazine) Jarvis knows the business and his view is that the days of investing $100 million (as with the late Portfolio) or $200 million (as with EW's estimated cost to reach profitability) are probably over. His further view is that it's not magazines that are doomed, it's magazine launches. And he doesn't think magazines are doing a very good job of metamorphizing themselves into community platforms they need to be for the future.

New Glasgow thinks it gets a raw deal from MoneySense rankings

Rankings and listings are meat and drink to many magazines -- something around which they build annual theme issues (for instance, the Maclean's universities issue) and the various top 10, 50, 100 or 1,000 lists.

One of these is the popular annual ranking by MoneySense magazine of Canada's Best Places to Live, in which the cities and towns at the top of the list crow and promote their livability (Victoria, Ottawa and Kingston came 1, 2, 3); and the cities at the bottom of the list lament their placement. That's the case with New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, which this year ranked 154 out of 154 communities in the MoneySense list, and feels it gets a raw deal, that the methodology is both unrealistic and unfair and that the magazine just doesn't understand them.

Several factors are taken into account: weather, air quality, affordable housing, household income, discretionary income, job prospects, new cars, taxes, population growth, health care, crime, walk/bike to work and amenities. This time around, they added tax rates and a cultural "buzz factor".

MoneySense says its fourth annual ranking "measures every important aspect of every community in Canada" and editor Ian McGugan even has a podcast that explains (among other things) specifically why New Glasgow came last:
“Basically, it’s about high unemployment, high crime rates; it had not been scoring very high in years past and what dragged it down to the very bottom this year was the addition of tax. People on the east coast tend to pay more tax than most Canadians.”
Elsewhere on the magazines's site, McGugan elaborates:

“Our grading system looks only at features that have a broad appeal and that can be reliably measured. And while we have nothing against beaches and nice scenery, we concentrate on practical matters, like how easy it is to find a job, locate a doctor and afford a house. We want readers to refer to our listings when they go to buy a house, move or invest in a community.”
New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan was quick to defend his town in an article in The News, serving Pictou County, Nova Scotia.
"We know these are difficult times and we are certainly willing to see what useful information can be gleaned from the evaluation. Many issues are much a broader purview than that of any small town and there also seems to be the challenge of MoneySense understanding what constitutes a community or a city....It would be helpful if MoneySense had a better understanding of the communities it is evaluating, especially the smaller ones and we welcome them to visit our town and our region. Maclean's magazine has done a lot of work with universities from coast to coast to make their universities ratings issue credible and perhaps if MoneySense had direct communications with the municipalities it is evaluating there would be better understanding of boundaries and population bases as well as the unique character and other important intangible qualities that impact quality of life."”
Kim Dickson, the town's director of marketing and communications, said it's a mixed blessing to be lumped in with much larger centres.
"One might consider it positive for New Glasgow to be on the radar with large urban centres such as Victoria, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver when you think of how many communities in Canada are not even evaluated. As a municipality the categories MoneySense evaluated are ones that we have no direct or indirect impact upon. It would be more realistic and paint a more complete picture to add or enhance categories that reflect the services that municipalities deliver directly."

Party to be held celebrating life of Derek Weiler, late editor of Q & Q

A party is being held in Toronto on Wednesday, April 29, to celebrate Quill & Quire's late editor, Derek Weiler. The event is being hosted by Pages Bookstore’s This Is Not a Reading Series and takes place at the Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen Street West, beginning at 8:00 p.m. and going until 1:00 a.m. Admission is free.

More information is available on the event’s Facebook page.

And you know how heavy elephants can be...

Things you wouldn't know if you didn't read the trade press: According to a news item in Solid Waste & Recycling, 50 million pounds of rechargable batteries have been collected since 1994 by Call2Recycle.
"The amount of rechargeable batteries recycled through the program is equivalent to the weight of approximately 5,000 elephants."

Is direct mail dead as a source of
new subscribers?

Interesting online discussion on the Folio: mediaPRO social network about whether -- or not -- direct mail is dead as a means of finding new subscribers. More interesting that it is largely between two of the best writers and designers of direct mail packages for subscriber acquisition.

The discussion is kicked off by a question from Kenneth Schneider of Houston, Texas, who says:
Those days of brilliant outers, gorgeous brochures, and well-written 4-page letters are long gone. Or are they? Have the realities of the "new" economy made them obsolete? Have years of mailing inexpensive voucher/Statement of Benefits packages forever weaned consumer marketers from packages, mini-magalogs, and bookalogs that actually sell content while capturing the tone and personality of the magazine -- and thus attract a more dedicated and loyal subscriber?
In response, Peter Lebensold of Toronto says:
It seems to me, Ken - and I hope this isn't merely wishful thinking - that, as the "business model" for magazines reverts to its roots (with readers paying a larger share of the shot, and advertisers less), there'll be a regained emphasis on obtaining *quality* subscribers - the kind that pay, convert and renew well ... that generate meaningful "lifetime value" ... that boast the kind of relationship with the magazine that no mere website can duplicate ... and that, in turn, will be that much more attractive to advertisers.
Schneider replied in part:
Business models simply must be rewritten to the new realities of the marketplace, i.e. the expense of conducting a truly significant -- and ongoing -- direct mail campaign must be recognized as part of the production process of business. Getting subscribers on the cheap has grossly failed the publishers who've succumbed to the attractiveness of that proposition. If magazines are going to survive, they HAVE to be "sold" to their target audience -- at a cost that OVER TIME builds a loyal and renewing audience.
And Lebensold responded:
Sadly, no one seems to be thinking "over time" any more: It's all about last quarter and this. It's going to require some changes (or changes *back*) at the top (among CEOs, Publishers, and the like), to encourage today's subscriber-acquisition practitioners to think more long-term. Perhaps a look at the ad-sales numbers might help them along! But I worry that - like educating subscribers NOT to wait for the final renewal effort (in the all-too-well-founded expectation that they'll get a more attractive offer the longer they wait) - it may take a generation. Einstein, I think, once said something about people never really changing their minds; all that happens is that those who used to think one way eventually die.

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Magazine world view

Readership is dodgy, but you've at least found a way to cut the postage bill...

We thought we were on top of all the various kinds of circulation strategies but, clearly, no. A Boston-based conceptual artist Tim Devin has come up with an idea that has gone global: Leaving magazines on park benches.

Every month or so about 50 copies of a magazine (yes, you read that right, 50 copies) called "I left this here for you to read" are placed on benches, in buses and in dentist's offices, free for people to take. The magazine is now on issue 24. It's completely handled by volunteers and some people have been so won over by the idea that they've started their own editions. For instance, in Darwin, Australia.

Anyone can submit written pieces (no more than 400 words) and black-and-white images. They can even submit small, flat and thin objects able to fit in a small envelope. Contributors receive two copies of the magazine.


Monday, April 27, 2009

KRW Awards finalists announced

The top 10 finalists in the 12 categories of the Kenneth R. Wilson Awards for business-to-business publications, have been announced by the Canadian Business Press (CBP). The awards themselves will be given June 1 in a ceremony at the John Bassett Theatre in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Early bird tickets are available until May 1 at $85 for a CBP member and $100 for a non-member. Master of ceremonies will be comedian Simon Cotter.


Canadian Family magazine finds its readers are sexual keeners, regular cleaners

Sex and money play a prominent role in the results from the annual survey conducted by Canadian Family magazine. It found that 83% of respondents (largely married women) are comfortable with their sex lives but that only half of them talk frankly with their children about the family's finances.

"The results of Canadian Family's reader survey, in our first ever Love Issue, really showcases the diversity of families in Canada. Our readers are keen to tell us what they think - now we know a lot about them - including some pretty juicy stuff!" says Jennifer Reynolds, Editor-in-Chief in a press release.

Among the other data -- gained from 3,751 readers -- that are carried in the May issue of the magazine:
  • 90% are willing to try some new stuff in the bedroom
  • 34% say they feel comfortable being naked with their partner
  • 70% say having kids doesn't affect their sex life negatively
  • 69% have kids who help with the cleaning
  • 91% clean green with environmentally friendly products, at least some of the time
  • 5% use a cleaning service, and could not live without it, whereas 12% actually like cleaning
  • 91% contribute to charity, either financially or through volunteering
  • 15% make sure their children are aware about their family financial situation
  • 30% think money matters should be kept private from friends
  • 12% are very affected by the economic downturn, and 12% haven't felt any impact at all
  • 96% think society needs to be less preoccupied with financial and material wealth

Supreme Court ponders "responsible
journalism" defence

The Supreme Court of Canada was last week urged not to create a new "responsible journalism" defence for media organizations because it would injure the ability of individuals to defend their reputations.

The Toronto Star was sued by businessman Peter Grant over a front-page story in June 2001 headlined "Cottagers teed off over golf course; Long-time Harris backer awaits Tory nod on plan". Grant claimed the story defamed him and his company. The Star had argued that stories in the "public interest" that are researched and published "responsibly," following all professional standards, should be shielded from lawsuits. However Grant won a jury award of $1.5 million, later overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal, which endorsed the Star's position.

Grant appealed this decision to the Supreme Court and a number of media organizations, including Magazines Canada, have given their support to the Star and its case. The Supreme Court, after Friday's hearing, reserved its decision as is customary. According to a report in The Star:

It is the second time in three months that judges have wrestled with the question of whether there should be a new legal protection against libel lawsuits for reporters.

If the judges agree, it would represent a sea change in Canadian common law that would protect media organizations from liability as long as they prove all fair and reasonable steps were taken to ensure a published story was fair and accurate, even if the truth of certain statements could not be proven.

There are already legal protections for stories that can be shown to be true, or which are fair and accurate reports of "privileged" parliamentary or court proceedings, as well as for stories that are "fair comment...."

Most of the judges' questions yesterday focused less on whether such a defence should be created, and more on how it would work – whether a judge or a jury should weigh what is or is not "in the public interest" and what practices should be considered "responsible journalism" and what should not....
The Star's lawyer, Paul Schabas argued that "The law is out of balance" as it stands now, and "allows reputation to trump free speech". Grant's lawyer, Peter Downard argued the notion of a new defence would allow reporters to "publish with impunity" articles that are not true.

National Post loses one-fifth
of daily paid circulation

[This post has been updated]The National Post has lost a fifth of its daily paid circulation (20.22% or 40,000 copies) in Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figures for the six months ended March 31. In 2008, its daily paid circ was 199,402; in 2009, 159,089. Its Saturday average was down 18.8% or 39,574 copies). In 2008 it was 209,595; in 2009, 170,021.

The Globe and Mail average weekday paid circ was down 2.7% (from 312,685 to 304,265). Its Saturday circulation was down 2.4%, from 385,703 to 376,467, compared to during the same period in 2008.

Despite the decline among national papers, local and regional dailies across the country did considerably better, according to a story in Media in Canada.

Meanwhile, Quebec readers appear thirsty for local news with the Montreal Gazette's weekday paid circ increasing by 13.05% to 176,976 readers, compared to 156,542 in 2008. Its Saturday circ also increased from 166,700 to 185,344. Weekday circ of Montreal's Le Devoir rose by 2.82%, and La Presse also increased by 1.19% from 205,997 to 208,439. Its Saturday edition, however, had a slight decrease from 273,858 to 271,289. Another Quebec daily that increased circ is Le Soleil at 0.52%.

The outlook on print seems bright in British Columbia too, where the Vancouver Sun saw an increase in weekday paid circ of 2.85%, to 177,793 from 172,874 in 2008. Its competitor, the Vancouver Province, also increased weekday circ by 2.16%, to 164,908 from 161,423.

In Alberta, Canwest's Calgary Herald raised its weekday paid circ by 3.58%, from 128,526 to 133,127. The Edmonton Journal saw similar success with an increase of 1.99% from 125,589 to 123,140.

In Manitoba, the Winnipeg Free Press's weekday circ rose by 1.86% to 108,884; in Nova Scotia, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald increased weekday paid circ by 1.33% to 108,884.

Overall, the Canadian newspaper market as audited by ABC fares much better than the United States, where only two of the top 25 dailies are seeing an increase in circulation, and it is by less than 1%. The New York Times's average weekday circ decreased by 1.7%, the LA Times dropped by 7.49% and the Chicago Tribune decreased by 4.5%.

[UPDATE: Phyllise Gelfand, Canwest Publishing’s director of communications told Marketing magazine that the company made strategic changes in the last year that it knew would have a negative impact on total circulation.

“What you are seeing is the result of a targeted circulation strategy,” she said. “It is exactly where we expected to be,” she said.

Canwest pulled the National Post out of some markets including Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Regina to focus on six core markets of Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.]

Portfolio magazine closed after
only two years

The most expensive magazine launch in the history of Condé Nast has fizzled out. The company today announced it was shuttering Portfolio, its struggling business magazine (in which $100 million was reported to have been invested), according to a story in Folio:.

The 450,000-circ magazine was launched in April 2007 and did some excellent editorial work. However, before it much got its legs under it, the recession struck and ad pages fell almost 61% in the first quarter of this year, according to Publishers Information Bureau figures.

[The pic above is the launch issue. Personally, I will particularly miss Jeff Bercovici's Mixed Media column and blog, which had a smart, informed take on the structural and economic aspects of this business.]


U.S. circulation spill into Canada continues to decline

US magazine circulation spill into Canada is continuing a steady downward slide, according to a report from Magazines Canada. Only three US titles -- National Geographic (35th); Cosmopolitan (61st); and People (97th) -- now make the list of the top 100 magazines in Canada by circulation.
Total US circulation, as measured by ABC, has declined by one-third whereas average circulation per US spill title has declined by one-half over a 25-year period. Average spill circulation is now 13,435 copies per average US issue.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

As the top 10 go, so goes the newsstand

Baird Davis has a comprehensive look in the trade magazine Audience Development at the newsstand situation in the U.S. , a situation that went flooey in the last half of 2008. The sales slide began in the first half, he says, and "accelerated liked a souped-up Maserati in the second half" as sales declines a record 10.1% and revenue was down 2.1%

Changes included a sharp decline in sales, a decrease in sales by the leading companies, an increase in average price of checkouts and a particular fall by the reigning royalty of checkout titles, celebrity magazines. Davis notes that, as the top 10 publications go, so goes the newsstand as a whole and here's what his analysis of changes since 2000 showed:
  1. Cover prices increased dramatically (in 2000, 8 of the top 10 were priced below $3; in 2008, only one was, and that was Woman's World at $2.99)
  2. Frequency increased (the average annual frequency increased from 41 to 47.6 issues)
  3. Unit sales decreased in lockstep with the market (top 10 decreased 28.9% from 2000 to 2008; so did all other audited titles)
  4. Top 10 titles' revenue increased; all others declined

Ad decline of 16.3% in Q1 for magazines measured by LNA

Advertising for many of the largest magazines in Canada has declined 16.3% in the first quarter of 2009, according to a report in Masthead, based on proprietary data from Leading National Advertisers. The data, using ad page counts from 71 consumer, custom and special interest publications, shows that 60 of the titles tracked losses of pages and 37 saw declines of 20% or more.

Revenue figures, arrived at by multiplying pages by rate card figures (therefore not taking account of discounting) show a decline of just over 15% or about $18.6 million.
Titles taking major blows this time around include Canadian Geographic (-56.3%), Teen Tribute (-50%), TV Hebdo/TV 7 Jours (-48%), Canadian Business (-45.6%), LouLou (English) (-44.6%), Vancouver (-41.6%), Report on Business (-40%), Western Living (-39.4%), Tribute (-36.9%), Moneysense (-35.2%), Affaires Plus (-35%), Explore (-34.7%), Financial Post Magazine (-34.2%), and Maclean’s (-30.3%).

In terms of revenue, the biggest drops came at Chatelaine (-$2.6 million), Maclean’s (-$1.5 million), Canadian Business (-$1.3 million), Reader’s Digest (-$1.1 million), Flare (-$1.1 million), Canadian Living (-$1 million), Report on Business (-$795,600), Canadian House & Home (-$738,600), Loulou (English) (-$675,600), and Financial Post Magazine (-$663,400).

Radical journal keeps stoking the flame
of activism

Interesting Q & A recently on with one of the founders of the radical journal Upping the Anti. In it, Tom Keefer told Jenn Watt that the twice-a-year journal began in April 2005 and is created by a loose coalition of activists from across Canada and around the world who have been working together in various capacities for the past 5 to 15 years.
"Mainstream culture devalues both reading and thinking. It’s therefore not surprising that people might find the kind of content we run to be 'difficult.' However, I think we need to be clear that this doesn’t make it “academic.” In today’s context, I actually think a little difficulty can be a good thing. We shouldn’t fetishize difficulty. However, we should recognize that confronting the scope and implications of capitalism and devising an effective response is going to be hard work.
He says the biggest challenge is not money (though that's always a challenge) but gathering and editing the material into a 200-page journal, twice a year. The journal prints 2,500 copies and generally sells half of those (for $5 each) before the next issue comes out. They also have a brisk trade in back issues.
"In addition to sales, we also enjoy extensive informal circulation through photocopies, Internet downloads, and lending libraries of various sorts," he said. "This is flattering, but we need to remind people that there will be nothing to photocopy if they don’t buy the journal."


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Magazine ad people being asked to support National Magazine Awards

Brian Stendel of Keystone Media Inc. is appealing to members of the magazine advertising community to help sponsor a National Magazines Awards category, similar to the pitch that Kim Pittaway did to the "creators" and I did to past presidents. Here's what he says:
The National Magazine Awards could use our help right now. I'm inviting the magazine reps of Canada to toss a little cash in the hat for the cause. It's tax deductible and frankly we can use the brownie points.

The goal is $1,500 and when we reach it, a 2009 National Magazine Award will be sponsored by the Magazine Advertising Representatives of Canada...I've gotten the ball rolling with the first $100 so we are already 6.7% to budget. All donations are welcome and $20 or more gets you a tax receipt. Sure commissions are down in this depression but brother, we can spare a dime, can't we? Spread the word! It's what we're good at. For a running total, check my Twitter (
If you're in the advertising community, follow magazines, wish the NMA's well, you can help by e-mailing Brian a pledge to brian[at]keystonemedia[dot]ca.

US postal service has a direct mail sale

Faced with a big gap in its mail stream in the first quarter of 2009, the US Postal Service (USPS) is doing the natural and sensible thing: it's having a summer sale. Canadian magazine publishers who do high volumes of direct mail solicitations for subscriptions would be hard-pressed to imagine Canada Post doing something so innovative.

According to an interview in the website Target Marketing:
After a decrease of 5.2 billion pieces of mail for its first quarter of FY2009, its eighth consecutive quarter with decline in volume, and the anticipation of an equally devastating second quarter, the U.S. Postal Service recently announced its desire to offer mailers a carrot instead of a stick to get volume going. If the proposed program gets enacted, the top 4,000 U.S. mailers will be eligible for a 20 percent to 30 percent discount on their postage bills for mail volume between June 15 and Sept. 15 that exceeds the baselines established by the Postal Service.
Jerry Cerasale, a senior vice president of government affairs at the Direct Marketing Association, said in a Q & A with the website that there would be at least an indirect benefit to all mailers.
This [proposal] is an attempt by the Postal Service again to grow volume in a slow period, in a period where they believe that they have some excess capacity. If this works, our view is that it will continue.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Truckers' magazine reports Alberta minister approves of pedal to the metal

A Missouri-based trade magazine for truckers, Land Line Magazine, reports that Alberta Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette rejects any idea of making commercial trucks observe the speed limits on the province's highways. He apparently made the remarks during an Alberta Motor Transportation Association conference last Friday.

"Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette announced that Alberta will not follow the provinces of Ontario or Quebec to make electronic speed limiters mandatory for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Ouellette has also taken a stand against electronic on-board recorders – EOBRs – and said Alberta will go its own way and opt out of adopting Canadian federal hours-of-service regulations...."

“Forcing trucks to stay below 105 kilometers per hour on provincial highways could potentially cause more collisions on roads while other vehicles travel at higher speeds. I believe it is safer to have trucks moving at the same speed as other traffic to reduce the collisions resulting from an increase in lane changing.”

BPAWW and CCAB certified to audit trade and consumer show attendance

Magazine audit firm BPA Worldwide and its Canadian division, CCAB, were recently certified to provide audits of attendance at trade and consumer shows. It thereby became the first auditor of media to be certified by the Canadian Event Audit Advisory Council (CEAAC).

The CEAAC, a not-for-profit organization formed in May 2008, is made up of a group of trade and consumer show professionals for the purpose of providing credibility and consistent standards to the Canadian trade and consumer show industries, and works to encourage industry adoption of independent event audits, said a release.

Not dead yet: UK Press Gazette bought and carries on under new ownership

Not so long ago, we posted a report of the demise of the UK Press Gazette magazine, which seemed a lamentable parallel to the end of the print editon of Canada's Masthead. Well, happily, just as word of Masthead's death was exaggerated and it has come back strongly as an online vehicle, now the Press Gazette has been bought by deep-pocketed investor Mike Danson (who recently also acquired full control of the New Statesman) and his company, Progressive Media and will carry on. See also a report on the resurrection from the Guardian's Roy Greenslade.

Curiously, one of the main money-making elements of the P-G was its British Press Awards, which have been retained by its previous owners, the Wilmington Group.

Herald Trib's nameplate changes as NYT
"tightens the leash"

A slight detour from this blog's usual fascination with magazines, into that delightful cul-de-sac of typography.

This time about the decision by the New York Times to essentially "tighten the leash" and remove distinctiveness of the International Herald Tribune newspaper by redesigning its nameplate and slugging it "The Global Edition of the New York Times". Plus redirecting people who go to the IHT website to the New York Times site, presumably in the interests of concentrating what advertising there is available on the mothership.

The logo evolution last year removed the dingbat in the middle and now it has been changed to emphasize the word "international".
It will somehow never have the glamour the, then, New York Herald Tribune enjoyed in the 1960Jean-Luc Godard film "A bout de souffle", starring Jean Seberg.
Thanks to Andrew Cusack's blog for the pix and a trenchant review of the new look.

Print papers see big online growth with complementary sites

The magazine Editor & Publisher has published a tally of the best-drawing US newspaper websites for the month of March and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which stopped its print edition March 17 has dropped out of the top 30 as a consequence of seeing its number of unique visitors fall by 23%.

This adds fuel to the controversy over whether digital-only publishing can ever replace the power of print to draw or help draw audiences. Virtually all of the top 30 offer both print and online access and there is more and more evidence that print presence drives online use.

By comparison with the P-I's results, over three-quarters of the top 30 online newspaper sites experienced double-digit growth, said E & P, and the New York Times, which still leads the list, was up 7%.

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More on Barbara Moon

For those interested in more background about the late Barbara Moon (see earlier post about her death), there is one of Sandra Martin's usual, excellent obituary articles in the Globe and Mail today, headed: She was tough and smart and (some) people loved her.


40 magazine jobs cut at Rogers Publishing

[This post has been updated] Masthead magazine is reporting that 40 jobs have been cut happening in the consumer and b2b magazines at Rogers, apparently as part of wider layoffs across all divisions.
Rogers Publishing Ltd. laid off about 40 staffers in its consumer and b-to-b publishing divisions this morning, a source close to the company tells Masthead. The figure represents about 4% of the Rogers Publishing workforce.
Suneel Khanna, senior director of communications for Rogers Consumer Publishing told Masthead the cuts related to the economic downturn and the particularly nasty effect it is having on magazine ad sales. “The drop in advertising spending has been even steeper than even we and other media had anticipated,” he said. An offer in January for staff to go on a voluntary four-day work week with a 20% pay cut was not implemented with specific metrics in mind, Khanna added, but only a “small number” of employees took the offer.

It was in December that Rogers cut about 100 jobs across all company divisions, including 40 in magazines and then in January offered the voluntary program.
After the last round of job cuts, [Rogers Publishing CEO] Brian Segal reportedly told employees there would be no more layoffs in 2009. “At that time we would have said we were right-sized for the current economy,” Khanna said. “I think we would say that again today. But that advertising drop-off has been much steeper than what we anticipated, so the situation we were dealing with at the end of last year is not the same as the situation we’re dealing with now.

Playboy may be stripped of NY stock
exchange listing

The mighty Playboy empire, built on the eponymous magazine, is in danger of being delisted by the New York stock exchange.
Playboy Enterprises Inc. has received notice from the New York Stock Exchange that it is not in compliance with the exchange's listing criteria, per a SEC filing [says a story in MediaDaily News.] Playboy's average market cap over a 30-day trading period fell below $75 million. Playboy's market cap was listed Tuesday at $69.5 million.

Playboy said it would comply with NYSE's requirement that it submit a plan to the Exchange detailing how it expects to comply with the listing standard within the next 18 months.

American ambassadorships often one step in a lobbying career path

Embassy magazine publishes a column about speculation of who will be the next U.S. ambassador to Canada; the smart money is on David Jacobson, a Chicago lawyer, fundraiser and "bundler" for Barack Obama. Columnist Leslie Campbell explores the career path of past U.S. ambassadors, many of whom wind up as lobbyists advising Canadian clients after their term is up.

Campbell is critical of the Harper government's recent hiring of lobbyists in Washington:
The Harper government's engagement of former White House spokesmen Mike McCurry and Ari Fleischer had many Washington tongues wagging. Beside the obvious question of what the Canadian Embassy in Washington's role is supposed to be, it beggars belief that Canada's status in the U.S. is so low that American flacks have to sell the prime minister to cable networks. Far from helping Canada's case, the McCurry/Fleischer hiring highlights Canada's fecklessness, not its strengths.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Walrus, L'actualité & Toronto Life lead magaward nominations

The finalists for the National Magazine Awards have been announced. Among the highlights:
Cynthia Brouse has been awarded The Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement for her exceptional contributions to the Canadian magazines community. 
The three finalists for the coveted award Magazine of the Year are AlbertaViews, Canadian Business and Spacing.
The winner of this year's award for Best New Magazine Writer is Kris Demeanor, for an article entitled "Get A Real Job" that appeared in Unlimited (Jan/Feb 2008). 
The 3 finalists for the NMAF's fourth annual award for Best Student Writer are Canice Leung (Ryerson Review of Journalism), Laura Trunkey (Prairie Fire) and Chris Watt (Maisonneuve). 
First-time nominated magazines this year include Best Health, CARP, Canadian Running, Géo Plein Air, Kingston Life, Globe Investor and Worn Fashion Journal.
13 French-language magazines received a record 50 total nominations 
From more than 2000 individual entries nationwide, the NMAF's 210 volunteer judges nominated a total of 341 submissions from 79 different Canadian magazines for awards in 36 written, visual and integrated categories. The results will be announced at the awards gala on June 5 in Toronto.  Top nominated magazines were:






The Walrus










Toronto Life










Report on Business















Cottage Life















Other major nominated magazines: Swerve (9); Québec Science (7); More (7); Malahat Review (7); Canadian Business (6); Glow (6); Vancouver Magazine (6); Canadian Home & Country (5); Outdoor Canada (5); Prairie Fire (5). 
French language magazines with multiple nominations included  L'actualité (28) and Québec Science (7). Also nominated this year are: Revue Commerce (2), Clin d'oeil (2), Jobboom (2), Ciel Variable (2).
The individual writer with the most nominations was Chris Koentges with 5, followed by Valérie Borde, Gerald Hannon and J.B. MacKinnon with 4 nominations and Mark Anderson, Kim Pittaway, David Hayes, Jay Teitel, Don Gillmor and Sophie Doucet with 3 each. 18 other writers are nominated at least twice.    
Three articles have been nominated for writing awards in 2 categories:
"Sins of a Mother" by David Hayes in Chatelaine (Society and Investigative Reporting); 
"Requiem for a River" by Mark Anderson in Outdoor Canada (Travel and Sports & Recreation); and 
"Helen Koentges" by Chris Koentges in Swerve (Personal Journalism and Health & Medicine). 
Photographers Natasha V and Stacey Haines are each nominated 4 times. Roger Lemoyne, Martin Tessler and Chris Nicholls each received 3 nominations for their photographic work. Among illustrators, Sam Weber, Dan Page and Kagan McLeod each received 2 nominations.
The NMAF will present Gold, Silver and Honourable Mention awards at the 32nd  annual National Magazine Awards gala, June 5, 2009 at the Carlu in Toronto, presented by CDS Global. 
For tickets and other information, including bio of outstanding achievement award winner,  nominated student work  and the text of the winning entry for the best new magazine writer visit