Masthead News Archives
August 2005

August 30, 2005
Union drive in the freelance community
OTTAWA— The country’s largest media union will begin a promotional blitz in early September in an effort to organize disenfranchised freelance writers, editors, designers and other communications professionals. The Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada already represents about 26,000 media industry workers, including staffers at Maclean’s and Now magazine, says CEP vice-president, media, Peter Murdoch. “We’ve been thinking about this for a few years, on and off. Their [freelancers’] lot has been driven down by corporate ownership.” It’s true that freelancer rates haven’t budged in decades—a very sore point in the freelance community. According to the CEP website, the Canadian Freelance Union will “negotiate decent minimum rates…establish benefit plans and bargain copyright provisions that protect the interests of our members. It will represent members in ‘grievances’ and lobby governments. It will provide ongoing professional training and advice. It will promote strong ethical and professional standards. It will offer press cards to its journalist members. The CFU will advertise members' skills and act as a buying agent for everything from supplies to hotel rooms to obtain best prices.”
But before such a union can form, freelancers need to be recognized under the Status of the Artist Act, which identifies professional categories—a key step that would allow the CEP to serve as their bargaining agent, Murdoch says. It’s believed a critical mass of about 400 members would be necessary to sustain a fledgling CFU. Murdoch says the CEP doesn’t want to step on any toes with regard to other organizations that currently serve the interests of freelancers, including the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Periodical Writers Association of Canada. The CEP will seek to work with such groups once the push begins in earnest— after Labour Day weekend.

August 25, 2005
Paper prices to stabilize in 2006
TORONTO—After absorbing double-digit increases in magazine-grade papers this year, greater supply and softer demand will exert downward pressure on prices next year. Patricia Mohr, vice-president, economics, at Scotiabank predicts that the price of 60 lb. coated freesheet No. 3. will decline by 1.2% next year to US$855 per short ton; prices for light weight coated No. 5, 34 lb. (a thinner grade of paper, of the sort that Maclean’s uses) will decline by 0.5% to US$985 per ton. Mohr predicts that supercalendered paper (glossy newsprint-grade stock used by the likes of National Enquirer) will rise by 2.6% to US$970 per ton. “We expect 2006 to be a down year for paper markets,” she said, with the exception of supercalendered stock. A complete forecast of Canadian magazine market conditions in 2006—including ad sales projections for consumer and trade publishers as well a developing trends in circulation, production, content and government policy—will be published in the September/October issue of Masthead.

August 23, 2005
Canada Post trolling for a publishing partner
OTTAWA—The single-largest supplier to the Canadian magazine industry appears poised to get in on the action. Canada Post Corporation, which enjoys a virtual monopoly on publications mail, sits on a database of roughly 1.3 million names of people who have recently moved. Tomorrow, the Crown corporation will send out directed requests for proposals to about 14 publishers operating in the shelter category, says Canada Post spokesman John Caines. “We will not be purchasing anything, but rather looking to partner with a consumer-based Canadian publisher with experience in lifestyle or home themes.” Caines says the exact business model has yet to be determined. Canada Post, he adds, is “not interested in publishing a magazine. That wouldn’t be us…but we could be the partner who provided the list.” Currently, Canada Post’s RFI (request for information) is making the rounds within the shelter publishing community. If the government agency does find a partner, Caines says it would like to have a magazine ready to roll by the next moving season, or May 2006. The situation is reminiscent of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario’s Food & Drink magazine and the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation’s Occasions magazine—both of which utilize their respective monopoly positions to enter the world of magazine publishing. Magazines Canada, representing the interests of consumer magazine publishers, has taken a dim view of such activity in the past. “Magazines Canada is in the process of collecting information on this initiative,” says chair Deborah Rosser. “Once we have all the information and have reviewed it with our members, we will have a statement.”

August 18, 2005
New chief at St. Joseph Media
TORONTO—After a corporate restructuring process eliminated her position as senior vice-president, women’s group, at Rogers Publishing last November, Donna Clark has resurfaced to take the throttle at the country’s fourth-largest consumer publisher. Clark succeeds Greg MacNeil as president of St. Joseph Media on Sept. 12. MacNeil was let go on July 1 after irresolvable job-contract renegotiations. St. Joseph also did a little poaching over at Transcontinental last month by hiring Sharon McAuley as group publisher of Saturday Night and Toronto Life. McAuley, who takes up duties on Aug. 29, was Transcon’s director of brand marketing, consumer publications. It’s a coming home of sorts for the recent executive MBA grad, as she had a long run with Key Media, rising to publisher of Quill & Quire before moving to Transcon. (Key was acquired by St. Joseph in February 2002.) In a released statement by St. Joseph earlier this week, the company announced that it’s “focusing on enhancing existing brands and launching and/or acquiring new ones; creating dynamic online brands; and funding and supporting the growth of paid circulation.” St. Joseph publishes such titles as Saturday Night, Toronto Life, WeddingBells, Fashion, The Look, Quill & Quire, Where Toronto, Leafs Nation, Wish, Canadian Family, Mariage Quebec and Ottawa magazine.

August 16, 2005
OK! pledges $2 million for Canadian penetration
NEW YORK—Christian Toksvig, chief executive of the freshly launched North American edition of Britain’s soft-touch Ok! Magazine, believes in advertising. He says about 10% of the celebrity weekly’s C$20 million marketing budget for this year will be spent in the Canadian market. Responding via e-mail, he writes, “The brand OK! is a household name in the U.K. [but] it is not yet established in North America. Therefore consumer marketing is crucial.” Toksvig describes the operation as “the largest launch ever in the history of North America,” alluding to published reports that OK! has dedicated US$100 million over the next six years to ensure success. OK! will soon have a weekly Canadian rival in Torstar’s Weekly Scoop, which is set to launch Oct. 3 and, like OK!, aims to occupy thousands of check-out pockets. Toksvig says he’s secured 10,000 Canadian pockets so far and anticipates that Canada will account for 10% of OK!’s 350,000 ratebase, with an 80-20 split between single copy and subs. There is no split-run Canadian edition, he says.

August 11, 2005
U.S. firms buy Canada’s largest contract publisher
WINNIPEG—Founded in 1969, Naylor Publications has grown to become a powerhouse, supplying publishing services to more than 400 associations across North America. It has been sold to L.A.-based equity firm Clarity Partners and ZelnickMedia, a New York media management firm. “We received extraordinarily strong interest from several private equity sponsors,” said Brent Naylor, the company’s founder and majority shareholder in a statement released last week. “We chose the Zelnick-Clarity team because of the breadth of their media industry experience and the depth and credibility of their commitment to building aggressively upon the foundation we have established.” The deal was brokered by Jordan Edmiston Group, a New York media investment bank. In an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press, Zelnick partner Jim Friedlich said the company is “strongly and fully committed to Winnipeg,” home to about 200 of Naylor’s 400 employees, as well as Naylor’s 80,000-sq.-ft. printing facility. In 1994 the company opened a large office in Gainesville, Florida, where about 150 employees are based, and maintains sales offices in Toronto, Baltimore and Sacremento, the Free Press reports.

August 9, 2005
Publisher sues local liquor board
HALIFAX—Following the recent launch of Occasions, a quarterly food-and-drink glossy offered by the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, local publishers said enough is enough. A lawsuit against the provincial agency has been filed in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court by Saltscapes publisher Jim Gourlay, who claims that not only has he lost 100% of his beverage advertising to the new magazine, but that the NSLC stole his idea for a food-and-drink magazine that he originally pitched to them back in 2002. He also says the NSLC tried to poach his sales staff. The publishers of Cape Bretoner, Where Halifax and Progress have joined with Gourlay to form the Nova Scotia Magazine Publishers Association to “object in the strongest terms to the entry of the provincial Liquor Corporation into the ‘lifestyle magazine’ industry by selling advertisements in direct competition with the private sector.” Gourlay estimates that Occasions “has the potential to divert $800,000 or $900,000 in advertising revenues out of the market,” the effect of which could be “catastrophic” to private-sector publishers. Rick Perkins, vice-president of communications for the NSLC, could not be reached for comment.

August 4, 2005
Doc on “great magazines” to air early 2006
MONTREAL—Two filmmakers based here promise to take viewers “into the editor’s suite, on location, to the interviews, on the photo shoots and to the parties of the greatest magazines in the world,” including Playboy, Ebony and Ms. The three-hour documentary is called “Inside the Great Magazines,” directed and produced by the husband-and-wife team of Abbey Jack Neidik and Irene Angelico of DLI Productions. Filming is due to wrap up next month; the project will air in three parts on Global, TVO/TFO and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “It’s quite a huge project,” says production co-ordinator Nancy Alilovic, who notes that Canadian content includes interviews with Bonnie Fuller, Shift co-founder Evan Solomon, Wallpaper founder Tyler Brûlé as well as documentary footage from the launch phase of Toronto-based FQ magazine, which debuted in 2003. Now-defunct federalist organ Cité libre will also be featured. The three parts will be called: The Power of the Image, Igniting Social Change and Mags Inc. International. MastheadOnline will publish the air times when they become available.

August 2, 2005
CBP to allow unaudited publications to join
TORONTO—The Canadian Business Press, the association representing business-to-business publishers, has approved a “landmark” bylaw change that will permit publications with unaudited circulations to join. The change reflects the CBP board’s commitment to better represent the 700-plus business-to-business titles in Canada. Currently, CBP has about 150 publication members. “The change in policy is designed to accommodate publishers who do not currently commission a circulation audit,” CBP said in a release. “To maintain the high standards of integrity and quality required of member publications, the circulation claims of each applicant publication will be rigorously tested annually by trained CBP staff.” The new membership criteria will be posted on the CBP web site ( this month. The new bylaw states that “publications with unaudited circulation/audience data applying for CBP membership must provide the following with their application and annually thereafter: (1) a sworn notarized publisher’s distribution statement; (2) a copy of the publication’s current listing in CARD; and (3) Canada Post or distributor invoices/receipts and matching printer’s invoices for two recent issues of the publication determined at random by the CBP Membership Committee.” CBP president Phil Boyd said he’s already had inquiries from unaudited publications about joining. The rule change was approved at CBP’s annual meeting at Mags University in June.

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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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Full of terrific information, Thanks!...