[This story has been updated to include additional information.]
Did Ken Alexander resign as editor of The Walrus to protest demands from the magazine’s board of directors to cut the magazine’s budget? The prospect was raised in an article published on the Canadian Magazines blog yesterday:
Sources familiar with the magazine say…the board, which is chaired by pollster Allan Gregg, had instructed publisher Shelley Ambrose to make sweeping cuts in the magazine's budget ($1 million is mentioned) and that Alexander was not willing to comply.
In an interview with Masthead today, Alexander said budget issues did not affect his decision. “There are various deliberations by the board and by the publisher, but my resignation has nothing to do with that whatsoever,” he said. " I’m only the editor—I’m an employee. So what budget we have is not part of my purview. I don’t set budgets." Personal and professional reasons (“I’ve been working like a dog for many years now”) were cited as the reasons for his departure.
Publisher Ambrose had this to say. “The board has made no demands… We are budgeting constantly. This year we have a 12.5% increase in paper, a 20% increase in rent and a 10% increase in shipping because of oil and gas prices. All of those things mean I have to budget constantly. We’re constantly finding ways to do it as cheaply as we can, maintain the quality [of the magazine] and raise more money.”
A story in the Globe and Mail published on June 12 adds input from an annonymous Walrus Foundation Board member, who "confided that Alexander, far from resisting budget cuts, had submitted a 'very detailed proposal' for how editorial costs could be trimmed to help close the gap between income and expenses."
Alexander confirmed that he had made such a proposal and that he had never before submitted his resignation. He conceded that there had been "endemic problems," but he said "my resignation has nothing to do with the financial side."
Ambrose conceded that the five-year-old magazine remains in a financial crisis, but she added: "It's the same today as it's been for every day of the past five years."
- "Burnout behind Walrus resignation" [Globe and Mail]
- "Alexander quits as Walrus editor" [Globe and Mail]
- "Q&A with Ken Alexander of The Walrus" [National Post]
- "A three-sheet salute to The Walrus's Ken Alexander" [Spectator]