Masthead News Archives
February 2001
February 28, 2001
Multi-Vision gets strong, silent majority partner
TORONTO—The beating of jungle drums can be heard faintly in the distance. Custom publisher Multi-Vision Publishing, owner of Elm Street and Shift magazines, is poised for rapid growth in the consumer category. The Toronto-based publisher has sold a “clear majority” stake to Concord, Ont.-based St. Joseph Corp.—Canada’s sixth-largest printer with marketing and prepress operations generating revenue last year of $283 million, says St. Joseph CEO Tony Gagliano.

The deal closed last Thursday and finally gives St. Joseph a toehold in the Canadian publishing landscape. St. Joseph unsuccessfully bid for Telemedia’s 11 consumer titles last year, losing out to printing—and now publishing—rival Transcontinental Group.

“We really liked the people involved in this company from day one,” says Gagliano. “Over time, hopefully we can grow this group into a contender among the top organizations in this country.” MVP CEO Greg MacNeil says the deal will add considerable muscle to the company’s growth strategy. “What we’ve lacked are [financial] resources,” he says. “This is a very good, important deal for us and one we’re excited about.” MVP generated revenue last year approaching $20 million.

The two companies deepened their relationship last fall when MVP terminated its printing arrangement with Transcontinental Printing in favour of St. Joseph Printing following Transcontinental’s acquisition of the Telemedia properties. The Telemedia deal put MVP’s women’s titles (Elm Street, Images) on a competitive footing with Transcontinental Media’s women’s books (Canadian Living, Homemaker’s), ergo the switch to St. Joseph.

Terms of the deal are confidential but Gagliano says St. Joseph will acquire MVP’s minority interest after “five-plus years.” He made clear that he hopes MVP executives will stick around. “I am not the expert in publishing,” Gagliano said. “They are.”

February 27, 2001
Now magazine shares content
TORONTO—Has someone walked off with your highlighted adult classifieds—again? Not to worry. Just fire up your Rogers AT&T Wireless phone and access the needed data care of Toronto-based alternative weekly Now magazine.

Effective this month, Rogers’ 2.9 million cell phone users can view the magazine’s listings content on the display screens of their hand-held digital phones. The content-sharing agreement includes listings info on night clubs, restaurants, concerts, theatre performances, book readings and adult classifieds. The magazine’s content is uploaded to a special Rogers-run portal which is then accessed via wireless devices.

Now magazine has similar agreements with TELUS (Clearnet), Bell Mobility and Microsell’s Fido network. The magazine also has a significant content-sharing arrangement with the TELUS Web site

February 26, 2001
Search narrows for Maclean’s editor
TORONTO—Rogers Media has entered the final stage in its hunt for a successor to Robert Lewis as editor-in-chief of Maclean’s, Canada’s weekly newsmagazine. A short list of candidates has been compiled. Interviews will be conducted this week and next, says Maclean’s director of marketing Rachael MacKenzie. A decision could come as soon as the end of next week.

February 23, 2001
New typefaces offered
SAN JOSE, Ca.—More than 300 new typefaces hit the market earlier this month with the release of Adobe’s Font Folio 9.0, a new collection which includes 2,750 Type 1 fonts. The software also ships with new versions of Adobe Type Manager (ATM) Deluxe. New features include the new Euro monetary symbol, ornamental and handwriting typefaces. Font Folio 9.0 sells for about $13,000 (Canadian), with reduced upgrade pricing available. An optional 20-computer license is offered.

February 22, 2001
Canine title “kicks some butt”
NEW YORK—A Canadian magazine for dog enthusiasts and kennel owners was handed three awards from the prestigious Dog Writers Association of America at a Feb. 11 ceremony in New York City. Dogs in Canada magazine, circulation 30,000, won Best All-Breed Magazine, Best Colour Photography and the Elsworth S. Howell Award for Outstanding Dog Show/Conformation Reporting.

“It’s kind of nice when a tiny magazine from the frozen north goes down to the U.S. and kicks some butt,” said editor-in-chief Allan Reznik. Dogs in Canada, a glossy monthly, was a finalist in seven categories.

February 21, 2001
Satirical magazine in new hands
HALIFAX—A 13-year veteran of the Maritime edition of Frank magazine now owns a chunk of the muckraking biweekly. Clifford Boutilier, 41, confirmed today that he has acquired an equity stake in Frank from co-founders David Bentley and Lyndon Watkins. The deal went down last September. “I can’t see the product changing dramatically,” said Boutilier during a brief interview this afternoon.

Those who know Boutilier approve of the development. “David and Lyndon wouldn’t have walked away from their magazine and left it in just anyone’s hands,” said Brendan Elliott, a former Frank reporter and personal friend to Boutilier. “He’s certainly got a nose for news.”

Frank co-founder Dulcie Conrad, who sold her share in Frank in the mid-1990s, worked with Boutilier for about seven years. She recalls him as constituting the “backbone” of the magazine. “Cliff did the day-to-day work and got the show on the road,” said Conrad during an interview this afternoon from her home in Halifax.

February 20, 2001
Shift going for “startling” redesign
TORONTO—When Shift magazine hits newsstands mid-May it will be sporting a stem-to-stern redesign. “Our covers may be a bit startling,” warns associate publisher Kevin Siu, suggesting that limits will be pushed. Siu confirms that art director Malcolm Brown and senior designer Christine Stephens—both of whom are Shift veterans—have been retained to produce the Spring (May) and Summer (June) issues. Eng Lau, a senior designer with Multi-Vision Publishing sister title Elm Street, is also on the design team. The troika of aesthetes will commence brainstorming next week.

“Shift is known for its innovative design,” says Siu. “A lot of other magazines are catching up to things that we introduced, so I think we have to take the next step now.” He added that will also relaunch mid-May, offering better interactivity and a secure e-commerce option for subscribing to the magazine.

February 19, 2001
Concentration of media heavyweights
TORONTO—The Canadian Media Directors’ Council has lined up an impressive list of presenters who will speak in some way to the question: Convergence—Is it a big deal? Those scheduled to appear during the one-day event include BCE chief executive Jean Monty, Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau, CanWest Global Communications CEO Leonard Asper, CBC president Robert Rabinovitch, Time editor (Canadian edition) George Russell and former Maclean’s editor-in-chief Robert Lewis, now Rogers Communications vice-president of content development. The event will be held on April 3 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Contact: 416-480-6656

February 16, 2001
Elle Canada gathers pre-launch momentum
MONTREAL—Advertiser interest in Elle Canada has exceeded expectations by 30% and circulation will be 67% greater than originally planned, says Elle Québec/Elle Canada publisher Francine Tremblay. Elle Canada is set to hit newsstands March 14. Look for full coverage in the March issue of Masthead magazine.

February 15, 2001
Mag hooks distribution deal with Canadian Tire
BURLINGTON, Ont.—Next time you’re in Canadian Tire, stroll over to the fishing tackle section and help yourself to a free copy of Bob Izumi’s Real Fishing magazine. Publisher Fred Delsey confirmed today that the bimonthly has struck a national distribution arrangement with the 450-store retailer. “We’re just trying to establish the brand,” says Delsey. More than 50,000 copies of the March/April issue have been dropped off at the retailer’s central depot in Mississauga. The magazines will be displayed on racks at participating stores. Real Fishing launched in 1995 and has a total print run of 65.000.

February 14, 2001
Saturday Night’s win-win
TORONTO—Nietzsche was right: what things are called is sometimes more important than what they actually are. In the case of Saturday Night, so long as its owners consistently refer to it as a magazine, it can vie for National Magazine Awards, says National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF) president John Macfarlane.

Macfarlane’s statement resolves a brief state of confusion created by the magazine’s first-ever entry into National Newspaper Awards (NNA) competition. (See Daily News, Feb. 12) Saturday Night’s National Magazine Award (NMA) eligibility was up in the air earlier this week and was dependant upon how the publication had referred to itself before the NNA board last month when it was applying for admission. Had it passed itself off as anything but a magazine, it would have been disqualified from NMA competition.

As it turns out, Saturday Night did indeed approach the NNA board as a magazine, said associate publisher Gordon Fisher during an interview today, adding that his title is an “integral” part of The National Post and “a key weapon in our strategy to win the newspaper war.”

February 13, 2001
$780,000 libel ruling reveals dangers of sensational journalism
TORONTO—A recent libel ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal relating to a series of sensational articles about development scandals in the burgeoning suburbs north of Toronto has cost The Globe and Mail $780,000 in special and general damages.

The Court ruled that a finding of actual malice is fatal to the defences of fair comment and qualified privilege. Even though a defendant in the case, journalist Jock Ferguson, may have borne no personal grudge against the plaintiff, the Court found that actual malice existed because the story was deliberately sensational and engaged in systematic reporting of one side and non-reporting of the other.

"The judgment should serve as a warning to journalists and publishers operating under strict deadlines," writes lawyer Daniel Urbas. You can read his full review of the fascinating and instructive case in this month’s Publishing Law column on

February 12, 2001
Saturday Night’s award-winning dilemma
TORONTO—Saturday Night, a monthly magazine that converted to a weekly insert to The National Post last May, will be excluded from National Magazine Awards competition if it refuses to withdraw its entries to the National Newspaper Awards, says Pat Kendall, executive director of the National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF). “They’ll have to choose which [awards program] to participate in,” she says, adding that the NMAF has long maintained a unwritten policy barring NNA contestants from NMA consideration.
The magazine received the go-ahead to compete in this year’s NNAs on Jan. 29 following a 6-3 decision by the NNA board of governors. Monthly Globe and Mail insert Report on Business Magazine has not sought admission to the NNAs, says NNA secretary Bryan Cantley.

February 09, 2001
The poop on Crap
TORONTO—Remember John Doyle’s “Crap” column that ran briefly last year in the Globe and Mail’s television guide Broadcast Week (now called Globe Television)? As one might guess, Crap’s mandate was to identify what Doyle considered to be lousy content. The column ran less than 10 times before getting flushed for good last spring by Globe and Mail publisher Phillip Crawley. In an interview today, Crawley explained that it was the column’s name that led to it cancellation. “John can write what he likes about television but I’m not happy about any publication that The Globe puts out which resorts to a four-letter word as its title,” he said. “We review movies every week. We say some of them are awful but we don’t say some of them are crap. I’m sorry, I just have an aversion to four-letter words appearing in print in capital letters.”

While the column might have been received by some with good humour, Crawley said “it’s not one I was prepared to run with. So blame the publisher [for its cancellation].”

February 08, 2001
Departure of Shift’s top designer foretells a makeover
TORONTO—Expecting fundamental changes at Shift under the aegis of new owner Multi-Vision Publishing, award-winning designer Carmen Dunjko bids the book farewell. “The infrastructure, obviously, is needing to be completely rebuilt, and I anticipated a lot of frustration,” she says, referring to the change in ownership, the aborted American expansion and Shift’s reduced frequency from 10 to six times a year.

As creative director since 1996, Dunjko attracted critical acclaim for her avant-garde use of typography and geometrics, netting six golds, three silvers and 13 Honourable Mentions at the National Magazine Awards. She’s currently considering a position with an Toronto-based cultural institution (she wouldn’t say which), but notes: “I’m not finished with magazines.”

New Shift editor Neil Morton says Dunjko’s successor may be hired as soon as next week. “Obviously, we’re not going to try to replicate what Carmen did,” he says, admitting that the redesign “could be dramatic” but will likely unfold over an extended period.

February 07, 2001
Magazines on the NASDAQ
MONTREAL—Look for Media Group 2000 to be listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange sometime this March or April, says Martin Wardman, publisher of Montreal-based lifestyle title Ocean Drive, which borrows its name and editorial concept under license from its American counterpart.

The proposed company, which Wardman says has already raised $2 million from investors, will have five divisions, chief of which being an international magazine group consisting initially of five titles: Ocean Drive, Quebec-based French-language Luxuria (which is in the process of being acquired), and three other titles yet to be purchased—one likely in Toronto, one in the U.S. and another in London, England.

The other four divisions include a medical CD ROM publishing service aimed at U.S. health professionals; a promotional operation; a collection of residential land assets in New Mexico to be liquidated on a cash-needed basis; and an importing/distribution operation with Swiss connections.

The magazine group will join with advertisers and hoteliers in various cross-promotional ventures, says Wardman, who will be a Media Group 2000 principal.

February 06, 2001
Globe magazine supremo heading back to Jolly Old
TORONTO—British newspaper/magazine veteran Nigel Horne, recruited by The Globe and Mail last February as editorial director of Report on Business Magazine and Globe Television, has announced that he’ll be returning overseas to London at the end of March. Horne informed staff on Feb. 2, confirming a rumour that had been swirling about for the past couple of weeks. Horne says he’s completed the task he was hired to do—refurbish ROB and the television listings mag. “My mandate was to simply improve both magazines editorially and to make them more readable and, in the case of ROB, more pertinent to the readership,” he says. “I feel, and management feels, it’s a better magazine.”

Horne adds that despite the tough advertising climate, ROB is “on the right track.” After returning to London, Horne will remain under contract to the Globe and be remunerated as an editorial consultant to the ROB “to ensure that things continue to go smoothly.”

February 05, 2001
From the ashes of President’s Choice
EDMONTON—Spotting a void following Loblaw Companies Ltd.’s November-decision to deep six their award-winning in-store monthly President’s Choice, Edmonton-based cookbook czar Grant Lovig has decided to launch Cooking at Home in April. The new bimonthly will be distributed nationally by subscription and newsstand. The initial press run is set for 100,000. Lovig, president of Company’s Coming Magazines Ltd., signed a three-year contract last month with former President’s Choice custom publisher Zaxis Publishing to manage advertising sales.

Lovig said in a released statement that the closure of PC combined with an able but idled Zaxis sales team was “absolutely the ingredient we needed to take this publication over the top.”

Zaxis president Jack McIver said he got a call from Lovig after PC’s closure and “jumped” at the opportunity.

February 02, 2001
Tax credits sought for Ontario mags
TORONTO—Ontario magazine publishers have long envied lucrative tax credits offered to book publishers as well as film, television, new media and music producers. They now appear on a fasttrack to receive them thanks to the newly created Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC). CEO Adam Knelman Ostray calls the OMDC a “new ally” of Ontario’s magazine community.

It was announced at the OMDC’s official launch yesterday that
Cottage Life founder/publisher Al Zikovitz will sit on the government agency’s 17-member board. Zikovitz said he’ll push for the tax credits. “I’m certainly going to make it one of my priorities to try to have magazines receive the same tax credits that the other cultural industries currently do,” he says.

The provincial Tories have devoted $30 million over the next five years to establish the OMDC as the successor to the Ontario Film Development Corporation. The new body says it will fertilize cultural media via partnerships and promotional initiatives and promote media convergence strategies. The OMDC will also hold a “convergence conference” within six months, Ostry promised..

February 01, 2001
New firm to measure Web advertising
TORONTO—A veteran ad tracker who spent 16 years overseeing Toronto-based Leading National Advertisers is now heading up the Canadian office of New York-based Leading Web Advertisers. Carole Tracey says magazine publishers would do well to take a look at LWA’s new Canadian service bureau. Officially launching on Feb. 15, LWA will track paid Web advertising on sites belonging to Chatelaine, Maclean’s, Canadian Living and many other magazines. “If [publishers] are competing for pages, then they’re also competing for Internet [ads],” Tracey says. LWA’s U.S. division monitors 2700 Web sites, while the Canadian office currently tracks 178 domestic sites, with the goal of tracking 750 sites by 2002. Basically, in exchange for a $2,000 monthly fee, LWA will provide ad tracking stats on up to 100 member-designated Web sites. Four large clients—“the usual suspects,” Tracey says—are in the process of signing up.

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Wow, Torstar really seems to be on a mission to bankrupt one magazine after another....
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