Masthead News Archives
September 2004
September 30, 2004
Churn continues at The Walrus
TORONTO—Walrus deputy editor Sarmishta Subramanian and senior editor Lisa Rundle will be leaving the general-interest monthly at week’s end. Only creative director Antonio De Luca and associate editor/head of research Joshua Knelman remain of the original editorial team assembled by founding editor David Berlin and publisher Ken Alexander.
Editorial staff turnover at The Walrus, which marked its first anniversary this month, has been high. Berlin, now only a contributing editor, resigned after three issues. His successor, industry veteran Paul Wilson, resigned after just two issues, citing editorial interference from publisher Ken Alexander. Alexander appointed himself editorial director following Wilson’s departure. Rundle’s decision to leave was “an incredibly complicated choice,” she says. “It wasn’t a viable work environment for me…I’d rather say less than more.” Subramanian could not be reached for comment. Walrus watchers have remarked that the departures of seasoned veterans from the magazine suggests a clash between the “professional” magaziners and Alexander, a relative neophyte whose background is teaching and broadcasting (he was a producer for CBC Television’s Counterspin). “I was hardly blindsided by this,” said Alexander of these most recent departures, indicating that he’s been asserting his vision for the magazine since taking over as de factor editor in June, making the magazine “edgier, more provocative, more about conversations that people are having, more topical.” As for the ego clash between the pros and the rookie, Alexander said: “I think it also fair to say that there’s a view that the only person who can possibly direct or edit a magazine is a person who comes from the professional editorial core. I do not come from that core.” With the departures come arrivals. Former Maclean’s section editor Tom Fennell joined the magazine last month and is to become deputy editor; Catherine Osborne, editor of now-defunct arts mag Lola, becomes managing editor; and former Time (Canada) publisher Martin White came aboard as associate publisher earlier this year.

September 28, 2004
Intellectual journals have it rough
TORONTO—A panel discussion last weekend at the Word on the Street festival attracted an overflow crowd at the Canadian Magazines Tent. The subject: Hearts and Minds: The struggle of Canada’s thinking persons magazines. The panel featured new Saturday Night editor Gary Ross, This Magazine publisher Joyce Byrne, Maisonneuve editor-in-chief Derek Webster, Geist managing editor Barbara Zatyko and Ken Alexander, editorial director at The Walrus. Moderated by former eye editor Bill Reynolds, the discussion touched on a host of challenges facing such magazines. Alexander expressed an embattled commitment to long-form journalism, which is hardly in vogue in these days of whittled attention spans. Ross pointed out that the battleground is “not the information economy, it’s the attention economy,” and the trick is to engage people with provocative covers, stories, authors and even sensational display copy. “That’s the game we’re in,” he said. Webster and Byrne said they’ve both invested in their Web sites as a means of reaching younger, online-savvy readerships. Ross said that Saturday Night’s Web presence, currently negligible, will relaunch under his watch to reflect the “messy vitality” of the online environment. Cash flow, however, remains the biggest challenge. Zatyko, Alexander and Webster are all in the process of attempting to secure charitable-foundation status from the federal government—and so be able to offer attractive tax deductions to donors—but they’re not certain their applications will be successful. The laws concerning charitable status have to “catch up” with those south of the border, said Alexander, against whose titles Canadians must compete, for now, on an uneven playing field.

September 23, 2004
Festival of print set for this weekend
TORONTO—In five cities across the country, Canadians are set to celebrate magazines and books. The 15th annual Word on the Street will be held simultaneously this coming Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., in Vancouver, Calgary, Kitchener and Toronto. The event was held last Sunday in Halifax at Pier 20. Locations are as follows: Vancouver (Library Square and CBC Plaza), Calgary (Eau Claire Festival Market), Kitchener (Victoria Park) and Toronto (Queen’s Park). The Canadian Magazine Publishers Association, and its affiliates across the country, will be promoting magazines by organizing readings and panel discussions. For more info, visit www. thewordonthestreet.ca

Deadline notice: As part of its ongoing industry support, the Ontario Media Development Corporation is offering to help up to five Ontario publishers attend the Folio: Show in New York on Nov. 15 to 17. The OMDC will cover the US$1,275 registration fee and contribute $750 toward travel expenses. Deadline for applications is Oct. 12, 5 p.m. For more info, visit www.omdc.on.ca and search for “market access program.”

September 21, 2004
Metroland to acquire World of Wheels?
DELHI, Ont.—Four years after acquiring it, Annex Publishing and Printing, based here, is rumoured to be selling World of Wheels to rival Formula Media Group. A deal could be reached as soon as today, a source says. World of Wheels publisher Niel Hiscox has been aggressively promoting the title on newsstands during the past year following an April 2003 redesign. He told Masthead in March that subscriptions to the CCAB-audited, 36,000-paid-circ title had jumped 44.6% as a result. Annex acquired World of Wheels from Toronto-based Helpard Publishing in July 2000, along with French sister-title Le monde de l’auto, Canadian Auto World, L’actualité automobile and Plant & Garden. Formula, a division of Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing, publishes Carguide magazine, which is not audited and claims a controlled circ of 87,000. Annex president Mike Fredericks declined comment. A spokesperson for Formula could not be reached for comment.

September 16, 2004
Black sues Toronto Life for $2.1 million
TORONTO—Conrad Black, through his lawyer Edward Greenspan, has served Toronto Life with a notice of his intention to sue for libel. The offending piece, “A Toast to Lord Black On his arrival in Hell,” was published in the July 2004 issue. Named in the suit is editor John Macfarlane, writer Robert Mason Lee and illustator Barry Blitt, who portrayed a smiling Black arriving in Hell, standing up in a convertible limo giving a thumb up to a welcoming party of cheering demons who hold placards declaring “Way to be” and “Black is beautiful.” The scathing 4,500-word article, set in Hell, is a speechified toast delivered by a resident of Hell, outlining the controversial acts and attitudes of both Black and wife Barbara Amiel. Parenthetical audience reactions are sprinkled throughout the piece, including “huba, hubas” when Amiel’s presence is acknowledged. Black is currently facing lawsuits that allege he and his associates received illegal payments from his public company, Hollinger, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. Black’s suit claims that the article portrays him as “so irredeemably evil that he should be consigned to Hell” and that his “conversion to Catholicism was a hypocritical sham.” The notice, filed July 13, seeks $2.1 million. Greenspan could not be reached for comment. St. Joseph group president Greg MacNeil declined comment.

September 14, 2004
Maclean’s to get its own stamp
TORONTO—In honour of its 100th anniversary next year, weekly newsmagazine Maclean’s will be featured on a 49-cent commemorative stamp to be unveiled by Canada Post next April, says Rachael MacKenzie, group director, marketing communications at Rogers Publishing. About three million specimens will be printed. Around the same time, and also in keeping with the centenary celebrations, Vancouver-based publishing house Douglas & McIntyre will publish Canadian Obsessions, an over-sized, soft-cover coffee-table book featuring 100 Canadian obsessions—leitmotifs that have surfaced with regularity in the magazine’s pages since its debut issue on Oct. 5, 1905. Think of things like hockey and the weather, MacKenzie says. And constitutional debates? “A little more sexy than that,” she promises.

September 10, 2004
Transcon targets Anglo teen girls
MONTREAL—Quarterly Elle Quebec Girl will be spinning off an English counterpart next March. Transcontinental Media, as part of its licensing arrangement with Elle-brand owner Hachette Filipacchi Médias, will launch Elle Canada Girl with a target circ of 60,000, including a national newsstand presence. Only one issue of Elle Canada Girl is planned for 2005.

September 8, 2005
Paper prices expected to rise 10% in 2005
TORONTO—Publishers should brace themselves for a hefty price increase in both light-weight coated paper and coated freesheet next year. Recovering print-media advertising and strengthening European demand is tightening supplies, says commodities analyst Patricia Mohr, vice-president, economics, with The Scotiabank Group. Mohr forecasts that the price of 34 lb. lightweight coated paper will rise 11% next year while 60 lb. coated freesheet #3 will rise by 10%. Supercalendered paper prices are expected to rise by 9%.

September 2, 2004
OMDC to pump additional $200k into magazines
TORONTO—Remember Volume One? The Ontario Media Development Corporation program handed out $75,000 to each of three new magazine start-ups last year (The Peer Review, 2 and Boating Industry Canada). There were rumours that the provincial government agency was going to reduce funding levels or kill the controversial program outright (controversial because the agency was seen to be funding potential competitors to existing magazines.) The rumours were half right. While Volume One is now history, the OMDC has announced that Volume Two will distribute $425,000 in project-based funding next year, an increase of 89% over Volume One. Publishers are being offered anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000—or 75% of the cost of a proposed business initiative. Such as? A new magazine or section, circ and advertising projects and Web development, to name a few. “I’m confident there’s a lot of pent-up demand,” says OMDC co-ordinator James Weyman. To be eligible, projects cannot already be underway; they must also be designed to yield measurable results by either increasing sales or improving efficiency and productivity. However, individual applications from publishers whose circ is lower than 2,500 need not apply, nor need those whose titles are on average less than 32 pages. Application deadline is Oct. 2. For more info, visit www.omdc.on.ca and search for Volume Two.

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