Masthead News Archives
December 2004

December 30, 2005
Osprey picks up another mag, contract
ST. CATHARINES, Ont.—Publicly held newspaper publisher Osprey Media has added another title to its growing magazine division. Bimonthly glossy Business Niagara was acquired from Copperlen IMA, a marketing agency based here, in late November. The magazine will relocate to the offices of Vines, the national wine magazine that Osprey acquired from Walter Sendzik this past August, also based here. Sendzik remains publisher of Vines.
    Osprey recently launched Niagara magazine. In May 2003, the company acquired Kingston Publications, publisher of Kingston Life, as the “first step in the formation of a family of magazine products designed to serve specialized markets in the communities currently comprising the communities in the Osprey newspaper network across Ontario,” the company stated.
    Meanwhile, Osprey Magazines recently bested rival Metroland Printing Publishing & Distributing for a three-year contract to produce Discover Niagara Season Official Visitors Guide, says Sendzik, who adds he’s shopping for printers for the 400,000-circ annual which generates about $400,000 in revenue.

December 23, 2004
U.S. group commissions report on Canada

TORONTO-The American Business Media, the trade association representing business-to-business publishers in the United States, has commissioned a white paper entitled "Guidelines to Publishing in Canada." The project leader for the white paper is Rogers senior vice-president Harvey Botting, who oversees Rogers stable of trade publications. Botting, who volunteered to lead the project, is the International Committee's vice-chair; he is also first vice-chair and treasurer of the Canadian Business Press, which represents the interests of Canadian trade publishers. A draft of the paper is expected to be completed this spring, Botting says. The ABM has published similar papers intended to assist American publishers seeking to expand into foreign markets such as India and China.

December 21, 2004
Frank “put out of its misery”
OTTAWA—In a telephone interview from his home late last week, Michael Bate, who engineered Frank’s 1990s rise to celebrated infamy—and who is likely its next custodian—spoke of reacquiring and rebuilding the brand. The interview took place after Bate received notice from counsel representing Frank’s current owners—a courageously anonymous lot of Bay Street pecksniffs—that the title had suspended publication as of Issue #444 (the Sgro vs. Lewinsky cover).“Something will shake out over the next three months or so,” says Bate. Will he be happy to have it back? “I’m unhappy with what happened. I think it was absolutely unnecessary and unfortunate. But I think for the Frank loyalists and the people who believe in Frank, or a magazine like it, I think that there’s hope, at least, let’s put it this way: it’s been put it out of its misery and now we can figure out where to go. I mean, this needed to be killed off as soon as possible. It was destroying all the bad will that Frank had generated over 15 years.” Under the conditions of sale struck last year, ownership of the trademark reverts to Bate’s camp if the magazine goes belly up before paying off debts it assumed to acquire rights to the title. Bate says he’s received financial “expressions of interest” to revive Frank, but he believes the title can only exist as a digital, paid-circulation product. Humour and parodies would still play a role “but that would be secondary to getting the news, breaking stories” he says, adding that one scenario could see Frank returning as a weekly with short punchy bulletins going out via e-mail daily. “I’m trying to figure out if it’s possible to appeal to a sufficient number of political and media junkies with breaking stories to make it financially viable…The big question is: are there enough people willing to work for Frank?” For that, Bate says, financial backing is necessary. “I’m convinced that if you have enough good stories that nobody else has, then the people in those stories, their friends or their enemies, are going to want to buy that publication. If you go back to the early days [of Frank], the first seven or eight years [1989-1996], when it was selling well and really having some influence, people wanted to read it. You had to have it. If you could deliver that again, I think you could sell it on the ‘Net.” Bate will reacquire the brand just as soon as the paperwork is completed, he said. News of Frank’s flop is comes in the wake of a botched attempt by its current no-name owners to reposition the once-vicious and gossipy fortnightly into something resembling…well, that’s just it: the most-recent Frank never quite became anything that anyone paid much attention to. Circulation has free-fallen in the past year to a third of what it was in the mid-’90s when 15,000 copies circulated around Parliament Hill and the nation’s newsrooms. There is no evidence that a promised direct-mail subscription drive of 25,000 pieces, schedule to drop this past fall, ever took place. Former publisher Fabrice Taylor, once the front man for the shadowy clutch of investors who purchased the magazine from Bate last spring for a rumoured $150,000 in debt-assumption, is not returning calls after absolving himself from all responsibilities this past fall, leaving the magazine without a public face or voice.

December 21, 2004
The Walrus bags an Utne
MINNEAPOLIS, MN.—Utne magazine has selected The Walrus as the Best New Title in its annual Independent Press Awards. Toronto-based Shameless, for girls, was also nominated in the category. Other Canadian titles also won. Toronto’s Musicworks magazine, covering the experimental music scene, took the award for best Arts/Creativity Coverage; Vancouver’s thrice-yearly arts mag, Artichoke, and Toronto’s quarterly on film and television, Take One, were nominated in that category. Seed, the big-bucks glossy fusion of Scientific American and W that precocious Montrealer Adam Bly launched in 2001, won for best Science/Technology Coverage. This Magazine and Montreal-based yoga journal Ascent received a nomination in the General Excellence category. Vancouver’s Geist and Toronto’s Brick received nominations in the Best Essays category from Minneapolis-based Utne. Montreal’s Maisonneuve, This and The Walrus were all nominated in the Cultural/Social Coverage category while Adbusters and Shameless were nominated in the Design category. Ascent and Halifax’s contemplative quarterly, Buddhadharma, were nominated in the Spiritual Coverage category. Rounding out the Canadian content in this year’s IPAs was Naomi Klein’s, which was nominated for best Online Political Coverage.

December 16, 2004
Federal government to pump millions into the arts
OTTAWA—A surprising announcement made yesterday by Heritage Minister Liza Frulla promised that as much as $192 million will be invested into cultural programs in 2005-2006. “One of my priorities upon my appointment as minister of Canadian Heritage was to secure this investment in arts and culture by the Government of Canada,” Frulla said in a statement released yesterday. The money represents a one-year extension of the Tomorrow Starts Today arts-funding initiative of 2001. While the Canada Magazine Fund and the Publications Assistance Program are currently undergoing a mandatory five-year review, news of this support bodes well for the magazine industry, says Mark Jamison, president of the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association. It means that the government understands the value of culture, he says, and because magazines are the most successful of all cultural media in terms of the quantity of Canadian content carried, the new funding indicates a government that will continue to support measures which strengthen the periodical publishing industry. An investment of this size is normally announced at federal budget time, however “the Government of Canada has taken this exceptional step in order to allow recipients of this investment to continue their work without interruption.” Recipients include theatres, the National Ballet of Canada, the Shaw Festival, Montreal’s Festival de Nouvelle Danse and the Canada Council for the Arts, which grants funds to such magazines as Maisonneuve, This Magazine, Quill & Quire, Broken Pencil, Brick, Border Crossings and many others.

December 15, 2004
Gag Web site a media hit
TORONTO—In a bid to help save liberal-minded Americans from their stridently conservative compatriots in the event of a Bush victory in last month’s U.S. election, left-leaning This Magazine created President Bush was victorious, of course, and received over one million unique visitors in the month of November, This Magazine publisher Joyce Byrne says the site has attracted international media attention. Byrne says she’s given over 40 newspaper and television interviews to the likes of Time, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Post and a Japanese television station. As of a few days ago, more than 6,500 Canadians had pledged to marry an American.

December 9, 2004
Panelists confirmed for industry summit
TORONTO—A contingent of industry bigwigs from the consumer publishing sector in Canada are set to converge upon Ottawa in two months for the Feb. 15 policy conference (see News Archives, Oct. 21) organized by the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association. Confirmed panelists include the redoubtable André Préfontaine, president of Transcontinental Media; Brian Segal, CEO of Rogers Publishing; St. Joseph Media group president Greg MacNeil; and Canada’s better answer to Martha Stewart, Lynda Reeves, the prime mover at Canadian House & Home and related television and merchandizing extensions. That lot will be joined by Linda Gourlay, general manager of Dartmouth’s Saltscapes, Geist editorial czar Stephen Osborne, Maclean’s undiminutive editor Anthony Wilson-Smith, L’actualité editor Carol Beaulieu and Rick Boychuk, editor of Canadian Geographic. Draft panel topics include “Winning the Circulation Wars: What works in attracting Canadians to Canadian magazines” and “Staying on Top: The Internet, convergence, global branding and other small details.” Look for more in the January issue of Masthead.

December 7, 2004
BPA mulls sharpening sponsored sub reporting
Shelton, CT.—Consumer magazine publishers who are members of circulation auditing agency BPA Worldwide should start making preparations to keep closer tabs on their sponsored subscriptions. A board vote taken late last week proposes a “major change in the way that sponsored subscriptions are reported,” BPA said in a released statement. Currently, average qualified circulation includes just two categories: total qualified paid and total qualified nonpaid. The proposal will include a third category—qualified sponsored. The proposal (likely with revisions from members) could carry as soon as the May 2005 board meeting. Publishers will be required to “define, in auditable terms, the nature of the recipients of each sponsored program that they use as a source…[and] be required to provide documentation proving that the actual recipients fit the audience description provided in the circulation statement.” BPA says that sponsored subs will no longer be included in the calculation of average price. “Bottom line,” says BPA Worldwide president and CEO Glenn Hansen, “media buyers want to know the true nature of magazines’ circulation sources.”

December 2, 2004
Rogers announces further staff cuts
TORONTO—The integration of Rogers Publishing’s various consumer units into one Consumer Publishing division (see News Archives, Nov. 2) has resulted, as management said it would, in the elimination of as many as 12 positions, most notably those belonging to company veteran Sharon Murray, director of research at the recently dissolved News and Business Group, and Rachael MacKenzie, director, marketing communications, also with the NBG. A leaked memo identified five other NBG staffers who have also been let go, including Marilou Cruz-Rodriguez, marketing director, Margaret Kalaska-Kocurkiewicz, creative services art director, Marni Berger, manager of research for Canadian Business and Profit, Dana Venne, art department, and Faye Gruenspan, with NBG’s Web division.
A Nov. 2 memo by president Brian Segal suggested that up to a dozen positions would be shaved after the restructuring but, during an interview yesterday, Marc Blondeau, newly appointed senior vice-president of the new Consumer Publishing group and continuing president of Les Éditions Rogers in Quebec, declined to confirm the precise number of positions eliminated. He did say that each consumer title now has its own brand managers/marketers “imbedded” within the title and reporting directly to their respective publishers (previously, only the Women’s Group operated in this fashion; now the old NBG titles are similarly structured). Most marketing and promotional services for all publications will report on an interim basis to Mitch Dent, senior vice-president of sales. Web ad sales for each title have also been integrated under one management position and will report, also on an interim basis, to Chris Emery, a vice-president of sales. The changes, Blondeau says, will make Rogers Publishing a “stronger and more flexible” enterprise. “Quicker to market for me means three things. [Speed of service] to advertisers with special ideas. Two, new products, stand-alone for sure…and then whatever is brand-related; there are plenty of initiatives within the brand that generate activity and revenue.” Blondeau is conducting information meetings with staff in Toronto and Montreal for the rest of the week “and will make myself available for questions,” he wrote in a memo to them.

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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!...