Friday, August 29, 2014

John Macfarlane tells The Globe he found The Walrus teetering, but now it is on solid ground

John Macfarlane
It's a natural story for the Saturday Globe and Mail: a retrospective look at the career of John Macfarlane as he comes to the recently-announced resignation of his editorship of The Walrus. The story in tomorrow's Globe by James Adams asks Macfarlane to select examples from his career and comment on favourite or significant issues.

Among the most interesting, though not surprising, is the choice of The Walrus's October 2013, its 10th anniversary issue, which he said was emblematic of the more secure circumstances of the magazine he's helped to turn around as co-publisher and editor (with co-publisher Shelley Ambrose) and why they can pursue a successor with confidence.
"We’ve established a business model that works. We’ve demonstrated that if you want to do a magazine like The Walrus in this country, you can’t make it viable with just circulation and advertising. The third leg of the stool is philanthropy and events: fundraising. 
"Five or six years ago, if Shelley had gone to somebody else and said, “We’d like you to edit the magazine,” that somebody likely already had a job, maybe a mortgage, maybe kids to educate, and he or she would have asked, “Will The Walrus be around in a year?” and Shelley couldn’t have looked that person in the eye and said, “Yes.” Now we can. Five or six years ago, we were pretty close to shutting the place down. Today we can look for an editor who has skills I don’t have and we’ll be able to say to that person, 'The Walrus will be here 10 years from now and we’ll be able to pay you what you’re worth.'

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Geist contest pays tribute to the smoking life (and draws in subscriptions, too)

Geist magazine of Vancouver is well-known (and regarded) for its eclectic and fearless literary content but also for its quirky and off-the-wall competitions,such as the postcard story contest and the erasure contest. It may have come up with the off-beatest of all with its Tobacco Lit Writing Contest, for which the extended deadline is now September 15. 
It calms, soothes, relaxs, smells great, tastes better; loosens muscles, heightens focus; makes you look older, makes you look cooler; dulls taste buds, shortens your breath; yellows teeth, blackens lungs; cripples your heart, fries your brain, and of course, it kills you. To the cigarette, for all that it does, it is time we pay tribute. 
Entrants are asked to send $20 ($5 for each additional entry) and to write 500 tobacco related words (or fewer) in any genre, so long as it's original. First prize is $500, second $250, 3rd $150 and honourable mentions $100. All winning entries will be published in Geist and on Every entry includes a one-year subscription to Geist, (which, we suspect, is half the reason for doing this.)

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Star Media's digital/print beauty and fashion publication The Kit is being expanded and relaunched

The Kit, the beauty and fashion title from Star Media Group is relaunching all of its platforms. Starting in September, the magazine title will have a new website, the digital magazine version will morph into a series of seven beauty guides, there will be a weekly "shoppable" e-newsletter and the weekly newspaper print supplement that is distributed with the Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal and Vancouver Sun will carry more original material. The changes reflect a new strategy designed to tailor content to the habits and interests of its largely women readers.
“Just as the styles we report on are always changing, so are we,” said publisher Giorgina Bigioni. “We’re always trying to stay ahead of what’s next, and it’s important that all of our platforms allow for the best reader experience. For advertisers, unexpected ad placements across multiple platforms, that are both meaningful and engaging, will enable brands to reach and interact with readers.”
The Kit’s digital magazine becomes a series of free, interactive beauty guides, available for download by tablet and mobile phone readers on Apple Newsstands. The first, a fall hair guide, debuts Sept. 15 and includes features on the season’s best ponytails, a hair damage decoder for women of every age and a profile of Grace Mahary, Canadian model and runway darling. It will be followed by a winter skin guide and holiday survival guide. A browser version is available on    

The Kit publishes French-language digital and paper editions once per month; Le Kit paper is available via Journal Metro in Montreal and Le Kit magazine is available free on Apple Newsstand. The Kit publishes a Chinese-language paper edition once a month, through Sing Tao Daily

The Kit was started in 2010 as an independent digital-only beauty magazine by a team led by Bigioni, formerly the publisher of Fashion magazine (St. Joseph Media). It was acquired by the Star Media Group in 2011 and soon thereafter extended its mandate to encompass fashion and to launch the weekly print edition. 

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Still time to make a "People's Choice" in Manitoba mag awards

As part of the Maggies, the annual awards of the Manitoba Magazine Publishers Association,readers are again being asked to cast their votes online in the selection of the People's Choice award for all magazine of the year entrants. Voting closes September 12. Voters are eligible win a subscription to the Manitoba magazine of their choice. Twenty-one magazines have made 86 individual entries in 16 categories in the Maggies.   

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Canada Post making money again, but delivery to the door? Still doomed

They have barely started making us walk to community mailboxes at the end of our streets instead of getting our magazines home delivered, and already Canada Post is making money again. In a release it said that it made a profit before tax in the 2nd quarter of $53 million, compared with a loss of $104 million in the same quarter of 2013.
The results were primarily due to the impact of lower employee benefit costs, continued growth in the parcels business and new pricing measures for transaction mail [what the post office calls letters, bills and statements] contained in the Corporation’s Five-point Action Plan. 
The number of pieces of mail continued to fall, by 38 million or 2.3 per cent in the 2nd quarter (a total of 117 million pieces or 4.7 per cent in the first half of the year.)
Domestic parcels, the largest part of the parcel category, increased by 10.9 per cent and volumes grew by 2 million pieces or 9.7%. Over all, parcels grew by 11.3 per cent to $353 million compared with the same period last year. 
About a quarter of a million addresses will be moved to community mailboxes in early 2015 and a total of 1.17 million by the end of next year, leaving about one-third of Canadian addresses with door-to-door delivery to be converted in the remainder of the five-year period. 
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How long is the next streetcar?

The new Bombardier streetcars that will soon be on the streets of Toronto are celebrated by Spacing magazine with T-shirts that illustrate how long the new vehicles are by having them wrap around to the back of the shirt. 

The T-shirts are available for pre-order for $30 from Spacing's online store and will be shipped in mid-September. They will be officially launched at the end of October at the magazine's new retail store at 401 Richmond Street at the regular $35 price. So it's a really good way to celebrate a bold initiative by the magazine and a step forward in public transit. There is also a T-shirt that shows the various generations of streetcars that have gone before.

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Tickets available for Western Magazine Awards gala September 26 in Vancouver

The 32nd annual Western Magazine Awards are to be presented on September 26, 2014 at a gala at the Renaissance Harbourside Hotel in downtown Vancouver. The finalists in the 30 categories of entry represent some 136 submission from across the four western provinces. The gala consists of a reception at 6 p.m. with cash bar, a sit-down dinner at 7 p.m. and the award presentation at 8.  

Tickets are available now and until September 24. A table of eight is $860 and single tickets are $115. 


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mag world view: Medium music mag; digital docs mag; Organic Gardening reboots; Increasing single sales; Locking in social media

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Nub's app-based writing competition is a new twist on indie cultural audience-building

It's not unusual for literary or cultural magazines to use a writing contest to build their subscribed audience. A little more unusual is an app-based competition run by Broken Pencil magazine on the indie arts site The Nub. Its goal is clearly to build the number of people who follow it. The contest is free to enter; entrants must set up an account and download the app to submit. 

The theme is "Anything Underground". The deadline is November 20 and there are two categories: for university students and for general writers. Each grand prize winner gets $400 cash, publication on The Nub: Indie Arts Hub, a $200 Broken Pencil prize pack, including a BP subscription, T-shirts, buttons and stickers, The Program (a novel by BP founder Hal Niedzviecki and something called "surprise weirdness". The top 5 stories will be published on The Nub.

The NUB: Indie Arts Hub is an app compatible with iPhone/iPad and Android that provides a digest stream of independent arts and culture content from Broken Pencil: The Magazine of Zine Culture and the Independent Arts; Geist Magazine; Subterrain Magazine; Matrix Magazine; and Taddle Creek Magazine.


Quote, unquote: Tablets should work for readers, not publishers

"There are some real opportunities to rethink the idea of a tablet magazine in order to recreate something that’s compelling. A tablet magazine should be smarter than the current set of publications. They should give me options about what content I receive and how and when it’s delivered. To do that, content has to be more modular. Today content is wrapped up in a magazine format, where everybody gets the same product. It really should be mixed and matched based on what works for me, not what works for the publisher."
-- Joe Zeff, vice-president of tablet app software company ScrollMotion, talking to Digiday about the tablet problems of magazine publishers. Zeff was a tablet pioneer, helping launch apps for Fast Company and National Geographic.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quote, unquote: On doing more in a day than a week

" What most people don't realize is that TIME is now producing more than 150 pieces of content per day and reaching nearly 50M unique visitors per month.We are doing 24/7 what the magazine has always done for the week. We can now say we are a global news site whose coverage is commensurate with the power of our brand."
-- Callie Schweitzer, director of digital innovation at TIME, telling Capital New York how things have changed.


Mag world view: WWD group sold to Penske; Donnelley's got pesticide problems; AMI rejigs...again; Intercourse, the magazine

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Tyee goes national, putting a full-time investigative reporter in Ottawa

The Tyee, the BC-based news site, has realized its plan to go "national", with the appointment of Jeremy
Jeremy Nuttall
Nuttall as the publication's reporter in Ottawa. It was made possible by pledges from Tyee readers to pay monthly amounts to put him there. The organization raised more than $100,000 in three weeks. Editor David Beers said
Those resources create a job for Jeremy Nuttall -- living wages and expenses -- which is a hopeful development given that the nation's largest news chain Postmedia has eliminated its parliamentary bureau, the CBC is rocked by cuts, and most other media orgs are downsizing. Hopeful, too, because Jeremy will arrive in Ottawa with a stellar resume that includes freelance reporting from China and positions with the CBC, the Canadian Press and 24Hours Vancouver, as well as the dozens of stories he filed for The Tyee in his groundbreaking investigation of the federal Temporary Foreign Workers Program (see his bio and all his stories for The Tyee to date here). 
Even more hopeful because Jeremy brings to Parliament Hill a mandate from you Tyee readers. It's to cover what the rest of the media either lacks the guts or resources to investigate. He has the experience and skills to lay bare complex international business deals, cover labour issues in-depth, cut through politicians' smokescreens, and represent a British Columbian point of view in the nation's capital.


John Macfarlane stepping down as
editor of The Walrus

John Macfarlane, the editor and co-publisher of The Walrus magazine since July 2008 is to retire at the end of the year. The search is on to replace him in a newly named position: editor-in-chief, content platforms.
“More than five years ago, I came on board as interim editor for six months, and suddenly it’s five years later,” said Macfarlane [in a release]. “The world of journalism has changed in the last five years, and although I’ve enjoyed every minute here the time has come, as the Walrus said, for a new kind of editor—an editor of all Walrus platforms. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and decided the timing is right—for me and for the organization.”
Macfarlane has been an important player in the Canadian magazine industry since he was associate editor of Maclean's magazine 1970-72. Since then he has been editor of Toronto Life twice (72 - 74 and 92 - 2007). He was managing director of news, features, and information programming at CTV (1991-92); publisher and editor-in-chief of the Financial Times of Canada (1987-90); publisher of Saturday Night magazine (1980-87); editor of Weekend Magazine (1976-80); executive editor of Maclean’s (1975-76); president of Analytical Communications Incorporated, a public relations company owned by Vickers & Benson (1974-75); and associate editor of Maclean’s (1970-72). He was also entertainment editor of the Toronto Star (1968-70); entertainment editor of the Globe and Mail (1967-68); and editorial writer at the Globe and Mail (1965-67).

In 2007, he received the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement from the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

The power of insta-mags to deliver "quick, consumable content"

Mazda is launching a new model in 2015 called the MX-5 Roadster. But ahead of the launch it is issuing a series of "insta-magazines" through September 3,which combine static imagery and video, delivered to smartphones on Instagram. They are aimed at 18- to 35-year-olds. According to a story on Strategy
Launched last week, the “magazines” actually consist of a nine-panel shot that fit together to make a cover. Each individual image is a video, [say Michael Tsang, supervisor of interactive marketing, Mazda], giving a short history vignette into the brand’s past. One magazine will be revealed per week until Sept. 3, when the new model is unveiled. 
Because the car itself won’t actually be available for purchase until 2015, this is a soft launch, Tsang says, simply revealing the new look. As such, the campaign will largely live on social, supported by Facebook and Twitter, with no mass media push (though he says next year, there will be a traditional marketing campaign). 
The brief to the agency was for “quick, consumable content,” that “celebrated the history” of the car.
Could this be an acknowledgement of the power of the magazine form? We can hope. 


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Editors' Association of Canada rebranding to become Editors Canada

The Editors' Association of Canada (EAC) has rebranded itself and is henceforth to be called Editors Canada  (in French, Réviseurs Canada.)
"We're the same organization that's driven to advance, support, educate and inform editors, but over the coming weeks we'll be rolling out a new visual identity (including a brand new website) and voice. As always, we're committed to community, conversation and collaboration," says  Communications Manager Michelle Ou in a Facebook post.
The association, which describes itself as "Canada's only national editorial organization", has published a PowerPoint presentation to outline how and why the change has been made. Among the reasons: to increase membership, to keep members and "because it's time". 

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Addendum, Western Mag Awards: best art direction, cover

Apparently, the announced finalists for the Western Magazine Awards did not include the best art direction, cover category. Herewith:
  • Designers of the Year, Paul Roelofs Western Living (Sep 2013)
  • #64, Derek von Essen Sub-Terrain (Spring 2013)
  • Top 100, Catherine Mullaly BC Business Magazine (Jul 2013)
  • Man Down, Kim Larson Eighteen Bridges (Spring 2013)
  • Made in Vancouver Paul Roelofs Vancouver Magazine (Nov 2013)


Replica digital editions of British mags average 2.5% of total print circulation

Interesting information out of Great Britain and data from ABC UK. It shows that replica digital edition sales for 94 magazines which do them (of the 214 mags ABC measured in the first half of 2014) average 2.5% of total print circulation. According to a story in Press Gazette, the outstanding performer is The Economist, United Kingdom edition, which has 21,780 digital edition circ, about 16% of its print circulation. The top 10 in digital circ average 9%.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kobo and MagsCan team up to sell discount online subs for list of literaries

Magazines Canada's Genuine Canadian Magazines program has struck a deal with e-reading company Kobo whereby an impressive list of cultural magazines are available for online subscription on tablets, smartphones or e-readers at up to 50% off. For instance, The Walrus is $19.99 a year and Broken Pencil $12.99.

The literary mags available now (more may be added) are:
  • The Antigonish Review
  • Brick
  • Broken Pencil
  • Canada’s History
  • The Capilano Review
  • The New Quarterly
  • Open Minds
  • Prairie Fire
  • Visual Arts News
  • The Walrus
[Disclosure: Magazines Canada advertises its Genuine Canadian Magazines store here.]


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

OWL magazine relaunches with new logo, new mascot and new content

OWL, the magazine for children 9 to 13, has relaunched with new content and a design update. The relaunch follows STEAM principles.
"STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics to help teach and inspire students," explains Jennifer Canham, group publisher, Owlkids. "Innovation is driving the future, and by using STEAM to develop our content we're encouraging our readers to learn through creation and discovery."
The redesign includes a refreshed logo and new mascot. The September issue, which hits newsstands on August 18 at a promotional $2.50 price, features former Commander Chris Hadfield, who serves as guest editor and takes readers on a special space journey. OWL also introduces its Advisory Board, a group of experts who will contribute to the magazine over the coming year. This board includes Dr. Jennifer Gardy(BC Centre for Disease Control), Jonathan Moneta (MAKELAB), Ziya Tong(Daily Planet co-host) and Raymond Wang (Canadian Young Scientist Journal).
Complementing the relaunch issue's space theme is OWL's exciting "Out of this World" contest, inviting Canadian families to enter for the chance to win their very own space adventure to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
OWL is published by Owlkids, a division of Bayard Canada and also publishes Chirp (ages 3-6), chickaDEE (ages 6 - 9) as well as Owlkids Books. 


Mélanie Frappa named EIC of ELLE QUÉBEC

Mélanie Frappa has been appointed editor-in-chief of ELLE QUÉBEC at TC Media. She has been beauty editor-in-chief since joining the magazine in 2011 and previous to that worked for TVA Publications, and evolved through various positions in communications. She has a BA in Political Science and an MA in Communications.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

House & Home releases
iPhone app with August issue

House & Home magazine has rolled out iPhone- and iPod-friendly versions, starting with the August issue; this goes along with its previously released tablet app which won the magazine 2012 National Magazine Award for tablet of the year. According to a story on Masheadonline, House & Home is working on an Android app, too. 

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After short tenure at Next Issue Canada, Ken Whyte shifts to SVP policy job; Steve Maich
takes over

Ken Whyte
[This post has been updated] Fronting recent announcements about Next Issue Canada, the digital newsstand subscription service has been Steve Maich as spokesman. It made one wonder where was Ken Whyte, the putative president of Next Issue Canada? 

Well, it seems that Maich as senior vice president of publishing at Rogers Media is now also in charge of Next Issue and Whyte has quietly moved to a new position as senior vice president of public policy for Rogers. Whyte had become president of NIM in September, relinquishing his role as head of Rogers Publishing LimitedAccording to a story in Media in Canada, [Update: this story was published June 17; we only caught up with it now.]
The changes to leadership at Next Issue Canada and integration of the service into the media co’s publishing side have been made in order to follow through on the new priorities for Rogers that have been laid out in its “Rogers 3.0″ plan by incoming Communications CEO Guy Laurence, according to a representative from the company.
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Monday, August 11, 2014

Western Magazine Awards nominees announced

The finalists in the Western Magazine Awards 2014 have been announced; the winners will be named Friday, September 26th, 2014 at the Renaissance Harbourside Hotel in downtown Vancouver. 

The nominees for Magazine of the Year are:


  • Alberta Views magazine
  • Eighteen Bridges
  • Swerve
  • Up Here
  • Up Here Business
  • BC Business Magazine
  • British Columbia Magazine
  • MONTECRISTO Magazine
  • Vancouver Magazine
  • Western Living
  • Border Crossings
  • Canada's History
  • Prairie Fire
  • The Cottager
  • Farming For Tomorrow
  • Saskatoon HOME Magazine
  • Westworld Saskatchewan
  • Glass Buffalo
  • Homes & Living Magazine - Calgary
  • NICHE magazine
  • Kerrisdale Playbook
  • Vitamin Daily
  • AgAdvance Journal
  • Border Crossings
  • Just for Canadian Dentists
  • Oilsands Review
  • Oilweek

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Lucky magazine becomes even more about

When Lucky magazine launched in December 2000, it was such a fresh, original idea that the magazine soared in sales and circulation. The idea was simple: shopping was a recreation for its target audience and the combination of editorial and shopping would be (and was) irresistible. A magazine unabashedly about shopping.

It went quickly from 500,000 to more than 1.1 million circulation. Lucky was the Magazine of the Year in Advertising Age in 2003. 

It contained a sheet of "Yes" and "Maybe" stickers that readers could use to bookmark items that interested them. The focus of the magazine was to be a helpful friend to sometimes clueless shoppers who didn't know what skirt went with what top, where to buy it and what colours and styles suited them. For a good while, the Lucky formula gave it an edge in the crowded women's and fashion category.  

So successful was the idea that Rogers Publishing in 2004 launched LouLou in both French and English as a virtual Canadian clone

Like many hot ideas, Lucky has cooled down and the most recent evidence of this is that publisher Condé Nast has just announced its spin off into a new, joint venture with e-commerce platform BeachMint. Called The Lucky Group, it is thereby turning into a new, online shopping destination targetted at BeachMint's 8-million fashion-focussed subscribers. According to a story in Minonline (MIN). 
This decision to join Lucky’s print and digital assets with a shopping outlet is likely step one in either taking Lucky wholly digital or shutting it down completely, though nothing has been confirmed yet.
Lucky has been losing ground with advertisers. In the past year, total ad pages dropped 34.3% and in August alone, 9.8%. 


Thursday, August 07, 2014

Slump in paid-for sales reported in Magazines Canada cultural magazine benchmarking study

Magazines Canada has published a new benchmarks study about the cultural magazines, based on grant applications to the Canada Council, with data from the 2012 funding round, covering 72 English titles and 32 French titles. Total revenue for the magazines is about $14.4 million, spread over about half a million print copies (519,851). The number of copies were down 19.5% from  the last benchmark study in 2010.
"This constitutes a dramatic drop in paid-for sales," say the authors, "which, after some sleuthing, turns out to be accountable to two factors: the loss of titles in the program and a fall in non-subscription sales for English-language magazines."
The estimate is that, on average, there are 1.56 million readers reached, 1.2 million by English titles and 360,000 in French. Paid subscription copies reach over 80,000, 66,000 in English and 14,000 in French. Single copy sales are 40,000, 30,000 of which are English and 11,000 for French. 

The data was compiled in a collaboration among the Canada Council for the Arts, Simon Fraser University, Rowland Lorimer and Stephen Osborne, the editor of Geist.

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New men's fashion mag TOM* to launch Aug 11

Toronto Men's Fashion Week is launching a twice-a-year magazine called TOM* to be the
official publication of the celebratory showcase for menswear design.It will be unveiled at an opening night party at the Audi Downtown Toronto Showroom (328 Bayview Ave.) on Monday August 11th at 7pm. The event itself will run from August 11th-15th with runway presentations on the 12th-14th, 2014 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel (100 Front St. W., Toronto).
"… I (in)tend to shape and bring something different to the table. I hope to help build the industry and progress TOM* to a higher level … through immediate fashion news and guides to seasonal trends," says editor-in-chief, Danyl Geneciran.
Jeff Rustia, executive director/founder of TOM* says a magazine was always part of the vision for the non-profit organization aimed at promoting the industry.  

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Mag world view: China's $56 billion; right to report; 1H circ down 1.9%; Source bought by Observer Capital; enough moguls?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Proposal made for federal subsidy to create sustainable artists' insurance

A coalition of arts associations has made a proposal to the federal finance ministry for a $10 million subsidy program to increase the number of professional artists -- including freelance writers -- who can enrol in medical, dental and life insurance. They are hoping to create the Healthy Artists Trust or HEART, which would underwrite part of the cost of enrollments on a declining scale over 10 years.

The coalition includes the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), The Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC), The Actors’ Fund of Canada. the Canadian Dance Assembly, the Canadian Media Guild and CARFAC Ontario.

There already is a program called the Writers Coalition Program or the Arts & Entertainment Plan, run by the ACTRA Fraternal Benefit Society. But the proposal to the federal government says a subsidy would make a major difference in scale. In a letter to various associations across Canada, the coalition says
"We calculate that a $10 million investment would ensure that a critical mass of subscribers will be achieved in one or more of these insurance program to make them self-sustaining." 
Without federal help, the coalition estimates that the number of subscribers to insurance programs would reach about 500 and grow slowly. With it, the number would increase ten-fold in the 10 years after HEART was launched. 

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Saturday, August 02, 2014

Mag people: Uncles to Maclean's; George to Chatelaine; Lamadrid leaves TC Media; Doucet joins Professionally Speaking

  • Alison Uncles, who had been associate editor weekends and features at the Toronto Star, is joining Maclean's magazine as deputy editor. 
  • Lianne George, who was editor of The (late) Grid, is joining Chatelaine as editorial director. 
  • Carlos Lamadrid steps down as senior vice-president consumer solutions for TC Media. 
  • Kristin Doucet, who had been editor of FORUM magazine and communications director at Advocis, the Financial Advisors Association of Canada, has joined Professionally Speaking magazine as its new managing editor.