[This story has been updated.]
Transcontinental Media is merging the editor-in-chief, managing editor and art director roles at Canadian Gardening and Canadian Home & Country. The changes, effective Oct. 20, were prompted by CG editor-in-chief Aldona Satterthwaite’s decision to leave the magazine in January 2009.
Erin McLaughlin, currently Home & Country’s EIC, will take over the top editorial position for both titles, while Jose Woertman, currently Home & Country’s art director, will handle the creative work. CG art director Bonnie Summerfeldt will move within Transcontinental to become art director for the custom publishing division. Suzanne Moutis, executive editor for Home & Country, will double up that role with CG. Helen Catellier, managing editor for CG, is currently on maternity leave. Her role will be reassessed when she returns to work mid-2009.
Deborah Trepanier, group publisher for CG, Home & Country and Style at Home, offered this explanation for the changes: “When we agreed to the timing [of Aldona’s departure], obviously we needed to make a change in the editor’s position and Erin is a great choice,” Trepanier said. “She’s full of ideas and talented and all those good things. It makes a lot of sense in terms of her position and the opportunity to have leadership for Canadian Gardening and Canadian Home & Country with Erin. And Jose is someone who’s worked with Erin on Canadian Home & Country so there’s an opportunity to create some synergies.”
Asked whether she thought doing “more with less” would affect the editorial quality of the respective publications, Trepanier replied, “No. Not at all. I think our quality will remain as high as it is now…Obviously there’s a lot of work there but there are a lot of talented people associated with both these publications and they’ll certainly be able to manage the job.” The frequency for both titles will be reduced next year, Trepanier said: CG will go from eight to seven issues per year, while Home & Country will drop from nine to six.
Was this a cost-cutting measure? “We’re reviewing all of our operations to make sure we’re being efficient as we can,” Trepanier said. “This is a plan that allows us some of that efficiency but it is not in any way a reduction on the emphasis or on the quality of the products being produced."
"A monthly plus an SIP"
[Update] Erin McLaughlin, who has been the editor of Home & Country for eight years, admits the dual role will be challenging but says she's "ready for it."
"Collectively, we’ll have 13 issues. That’s essentially a monthly magazine plus an SIP in another world," she says. "Definitely there’s challenges having two very distinctive content [areas]. The gardening magazine is a very deep, in-depth topic. Decorating has a lighter approach, for sure, but there’s definitely complementary aspects to both titles.”
McLaughlin's resumé also includes TV Guide, where she was a staff writer, and Redwood Custom Communications, where she worked as features editor, then deputy editor of Real You magazine, published for J.C. Penney. In 2000, she was hired by Avid Media to edit Century Home magazine, which was soon rebranded as Canadian Home & Country.
Asked whether she expects to be working longer hours, McLaughlin laughed before saying, "I'm someone who seems to work a lot of hours anyway. It's hard for me to turn my brain off magazines. It's a welcome change for me.
"Will I be working more hours? I think it's just how I delegate my time—that's obviously going to change. There's going to have to be changes at Home & Country—I won't be able to go on as many shoots as I go on, I'll have to delegate a lot more of that work. But more hours? No, not necessarily. I think just richer hours." [/Update]
Satterthwaite goes out “on a high note”
Aldona Satterthwaite has been Canadian Gardening’s editor since 2001. “It’s possibly the best job I’ve ever had, in terms of personal satisfaction,” she says.
Of her decision to leave, she says, “It’s better to leave when you’re high on the hog. Stay too long at the dance and you get that ‘don’t let the door hit you on the way out’ kind of deal.”
In 2007, Satterthwaite co-won the Editor of the Year award handed out by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors. The certified master gardener says she will do some traveling, writing (maybe even blogging) and gardening next year. But nothing is planted deep in the ground just yet. “I feel confident, buoyant and joyous and ready for this next phase of my life—wherever it’s going to take me,” she says.