Masthead News Archives
July 2003
July 31, 2003
Burnout, cash woes prompt Lola to fold
TORONTO-Lola, the feisty quarterly covering the city's visual arts scene, has stopped publishing after 16 issues. Founded in 1997 by editor Catherine Osborne, art director Sally McKay and John Massier, Lola had been growing steadily. The title increased to quarterly frequency this year and gained eligibility for Canada Council funding ($20,000 last year) as well as $80,000 in multi-year funding from the Canada Magazine Fund to convert its 10,000-largely-controlled circ to paid. "We're certainly open to selling the magazine," Osborne stated in an e-mail. "If someone's interested, we're all ears." In a released statement earlier this week, Osborne said the last couple of years have been a slog for her. "Indie publishing is a tough but loveable business, and you can find yourself moving toward an extended low-grade burnout..." Lack of financial resources was also part of Lola's problem, says publisher Sharon Salson Gregg. To build ad rates requires growing circulation, she stated in an e-mail. "Building circulation is the costliest aspect of magazines and would require significant investment. We did not have the resources for that [and] had arrived at a point where we'd taken it as far as we could on our own and were simply ready to move on." Lola was nominated magazine of the year by the National Magazine Awards Foundation in 2001 and 2002. Interested parties can contact the publisher at

July 29, 2003
Capital purchases two titles
OTTAWA-Due West and City Woman magazines, published by Ottawa-based Warrenty Communications, have been purchased by Capital Publishers. Capital's best-known title is Ottawa City magazine. City Woman, a 30,000-circ quarterly, will become Ottawa City Woman this fall and be distributed as an insert to The Ottawa Citizen. Capital also plans to launch a new annual title this coming February called Ottawa City Interiors, to be distributed at the Capital Interiors and Design Show and through retailers. Due West is a standalone service-oriented lifestyle publication for regions west of Ottawa. St. Joseph Media is the majority owner of Capital Publishers.

July 24, 2003
Chapters/Indigo inks exclusive-supplier deal
TORONTO-Magazine distributor Gordon & Gotch Periodicals has been granted an exclusive contract to supply national retailer Chapters/Indigo with specialty and low-volume import magazines. The News Group will continue to provide the retailer with popular, mass-market magazines-both domestic and foreign. It's hoped the move will reduce the level of handling and increase efficiency at the 277-store national chain. After Sept. 1, magazines from suppliers other than The New Group and Gordon & Gotch will be refused, sources say. The retailer recently sent a letter of explanation to those distributors and publishers affected by the deal. Both Chapters/Indigo and Gordon & Gotch declined to comment.

July 22, 2003
Spin-off to help gays get hitched
TORONTO-As gay couples celebrate their recent legal right to wed in Ontario, Brandon Jones is busy preparing a special wedding planner for same-sex couples. Jones, publisher of Wedding Essentials magazine, will launch Wedding Essentials for Gays in February 2004. The 40,000 controlled-circ annual will distribute in the Greater Toronto Area as an insert to either Xtra! or Fab-negotiations are in progress. Jones says he's looking into a similar distribution model for U.S. penetration in such cities Los Angeles and New York. "As soon as word came down that this was legal in Ontario," recalls Jones, "we were approached by a couple of advertisers who said, 'Gee, we'd really like to [be a part of] this if you get into it.'" Gay American readers of Wedding Essentials were also calling with inquiries, Jones says. From June 10 to July 15, the City of Toronto has issued 362 marriage licenses to same-sex couples, 56 of them to Americans.

July 17, 2003
CDS is prepared for possible postal strike
VANCOUVER—Not everyone is worried about a possible postal strike at Canada Post. The Crown corporation would like to avoid another strike—it hasn’t been able to regain the business it lost since its last one in 1997—but there is no guarantee what the Friday-morning strike deadline’s outcome will be. If the Canadian Union of Postal Workers strikes, Chris Wood is ready. The president of Vancouver-based Canadian Delivery Service says it has the capacity to handle 100 million publications a year or five times its current capacity, says Wood. Established in 1988, CDS services the greater Toronto area and lower mainland British Columbia. According to CDS it provides a faster service with rates for small packages and publications that are 20% lower than Canada Post. Since the strike talk began Wood has been quoting 10 to 12 different first-class mail delivery jobs a day, mainly to utility companies anxious to mail their invoices. He says he’s surprised, however, that “the publishing community has not been overly concerned [about the postal strike].” Whereas monthly and quarterly magazine publishers might be able to wait it out, if there’s a strike this Friday Wood expects to receive more phone calls from panicked weekly publishers. Even those publishers who receive Publications Assistance Program mailing subsidies, which are linked to using Canada Post, will need to get their product out, says Woods, which is definitely good for his business. “It accelerates our growth... It gives [publishers] an opportunity to see how efficiently another delivery vehicle can operate.”

July 15, 2003
Strategy takes double hit
TORONTO-As a result of last week's changes to the Canada Magazine Fund, the dynamic of at least one magazine rivalry has been affected. As a controlled-circ title, Brunico Communication's Strategy magazine is no longer eligible for funding under the CMF's support-for-editorial component (SEC) yet Rogers-owned glossy tab Marketing magazine, a direct competitor, will continue to receive SEC cash since its circulation is mostly paid.
(Last year Marketing received $201,000). Brunico president Jim Shenkman says he's taken a "double hit" in that not only has he lost funding he has also had to pay $30,000 per year to have his fortnightly newsprint tab saddle-stitched to meet the government's definition of a magazine.
(Strategy was deemed a non-magazine last year and so missed out on SEC funding; the title received $107,000 in SEC funding in 2001.) Shenkman says he's pursuing legal recourse to recover last year's missed funding. He says he can live with the new funding cuts but only if his competitor must endure the same circumstance.

July 10, 2003
Controlled titles lose millions from CMF, get PAP break
OTTAWA-Controlled-circ trade and consumer magazines have lost millions in funding under the Canada Magazine Fund, deep cuts to which were announced two days ago by Department of Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps. With few exceptions, such as Marketing and Quill & Quire, virtually all trade magazines are based on a controlled-circ model and received at least $7 million in CMF funding last year under the support for editorial content (SEC) component of the fund. That's now gone. A small consolation is that trade and consumer titles with request circs exceeding 50% will be eligible for Publications Assistance Program support amounting to 25% for the first 30,000 copies. This is expected to claim $1.4 million of the total PAP pie which jumps from $45.5 million this year to $49.4 million for the next two years to accommodate newly eligible ethnic publications and community newspapers (both of which must meet the standard 50% paid-circ criteria). PAP subsidies to more than a dozen television listings publications, valued at more than $5 million, will be completely phased out by October 2005.

Controlled-circ consumer title recipients such as National Post Business (which received $243,962 last year towards its editorial costs), Elm Street ($174,568) take the biggest hits. A host of city magazines in Calgary, Ottawa, Vancouver, Hamilton and London have lost funding. Consumer titles with paid circs greater than 50% (such as Maclean's and Canadian Living) will continue to draw from the SEC component, but will see their grants drop since the SEC component has shrunk to $10 million from $25 million. Overall, the CMF dwindles 49% from $35 million this year to $18 million next year but more small magazines will be eligible to draw from it. The fund, originally capped at $50 million annually when it was introduced in 2000, was reduced by $15 million in February. The Canadian Magazine Publishers Association called the cuts "stunning." Noting rising postal costs out of whack with inflation and intensifying foreign circ efforts within Canada, CMPA chair/Canadian Geographic publisher John Thomson called the cuts "a step in the wrong direction." Canadian Business Press president Phil Boyd called the cuts "huge." Allan Clarke, director of publishing policy and programming and the chief bureaucrat overseeing PAP and the CMF, said the "rebalancing" of funding commitments in favour of smaller arts, cultural and ethnic titles as well as community newspapers reflects the government's desire to support diverse media landscape. Also, the fact that much-feared split-runs are virtually non-existent having had three years to show themselves was a factor in reducing the CMF's total purse. The CMF was initially conceived and designed to reinforce magazines against incursions by foreign publishers, he said.

For industry reaction see the July/August issue of Masthead, available early August.

July 8, 2003
Saturday Night to go monthly
TORONTO-Advertiser demand has convinced St. Joseph Media group publisher Marina Glogovac to boost the frequency of Saturday Night in 2004 from six to 10 times a year. The January/February and July/August issues will be combined. While the glossy, general interest title will continue to distribute with the National Post, its controlled circulation will be honed down from 300,000 to 200,000, says Glogovac, who adds that she reached her decision after extensive consultation with the advertising community. "I talked with every senior person at the agencies, and everybody understands that we have to make this magazine work, to sustain it and nourish it." Many agency types feel that the magazine's bimonthly publishing cycle relegates it to a place of underwhelming prominence on the mediascape, Glogovac says.

July 3, 2003
Shearer moves from Applied Arts back to Totum
TORONTO-Jeffrey Shearer's decision last month to step down as publisher of Applied Arts and return to his former job as director of Totum Media Marketing had many wondering why. After all, it was just one year ago that Shearer took the post along with an equity stake in the oversized bimonthly owned by founder/art director Georges Haroutiun. Were the two partners unable to get along? "There was no nasty parting of the ways, and we continue as good friends," says Shearer. "I understand why people would immediately figure there was some sort of problem, but there wasn't." While he's no longer a shareholder in the magazine, Shearer will serve as consulting publisher; Haroutiun, who could not be reached for comment, assumes operating control. Shearer implemented ambitious expansion plans for the magazine, starting with a readership survey last fall that later informed a redesign, editorial enhancements and brand extensions. "The major work at the magazine is complete," he says, noting that his job with Totum will allow him to work with a variety of magazines. Totum specializes in business planning and research for magazines, newspapers and other media companies.

July 1, 2003
Cultural mags receive PAP, CMF support
OTTAWA-Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps announced at the end of last week that the Publications Assistance Program and the Canada Magazine Fund will both be changed to accommodate 250 ethnocultural magazines newspapers. The changes to PAP will concern eligibility requirements. Roughly $1 million will go toward PAP funding for 150 ethnocultural magazines. Further, a new component of the Canada Magazine Fund is expected to roll out this month which will deliver new funding to cultural and literary magazines to support training, professional development and business development initiatives. Officials from the Department of Canadian Heritage could not be reached for comment. PAP has been in a state of overhaul since at least June 2001. Meanwhile, the Canadian Business Press is waiting for word on its proposal that would see postal subsidies restored to trade magazines with a request circ exceeding 50%. The new PAP may be announced this year.
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Jaded says:
Wow, Torstar really seems to be on a mission to bankrupt one magazine after another....
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