Masthead News Archives
June 2005

June 30, 2005
Rennie Media, dead or alive?
TORONTO—According to a press release sent out last Thursday, Collingwood-based sports industry publisher Rennie Media’s trade products have “rise[n] from the ashes,” and are relaunching under new ownership. However, president and publisher Bruce Morrison says that’s not so. “Rennie’s is inactive at the moment. The company is still alive and [it] has sold none of its assets to anybody,” says Morrison. Yet, the release states a new Toronto-based publishing company, Sports News International—owned by Michael McGrath, former president and publisher of Time Canada and general manager of Today’s Parent, along with various employees and contractors of Rennie Media—is relaunching the products starting with today’s edition of Rennie’s Sports Letter, now called The Sports Letter. Wayne Karl, publisher and editor of Hockey Business Report, is editor of the newsletter. Sheila Johnston, a Rennie employee for 17 years, serves as director of administration and head of SNI’s directory division, which will publish the annual hockey directory. McGrath says he purchased Rennie’s database and back content from a creditor. “[Morrison] closed his doors, let his employees go and he advised his employees that he was going into bankruptcy. We made offers to the current employees, we purchased certain assets and we are proceeding to do a newsletter, a directory and preview magazines [equivalent to Rennie’s What’s Hot series].”

Rennie’s hit financial woes after investing heavily in a new consumer launch, Outdoor Lifestyle, and a major financial backer pulled its support before the first issue went to press (see MastheadOnline story for May 31). At one point Morrison was in talks with McGrath to sell the company but discussions broke off over price. According to Morrison, the company is neither filing for bankruptcy nor entering receivership. “We’re working on a relaunch plan,” says Morrison. As for the database, “[McGrath] bought it from an unsecured creditor who was holding onto the database for us and has no right to sell that asset to Michael McGrath.” Morrison says he will be pursuing legal action.

And the Western mag winner is…
VANCOUVER—Seems everyone was a winner at last week’s 23rd annual Western Magazine Awards, held here on June 24 at the Harbourside Renaissance Hotel. Sixteen magazines received accolades. more>>
Vancouver took home the most after winning three awards, including magazine of the year for British Columbia and the Yukon. Several magazines received two nods apiece including BCBusiness, Avenue, BlackFlash, Western Living, Event, Swerve and Color, which was awarded best new magazine. National credit union title, Enterprise, won best trade mag for the second year in a row. And the award for Western Canadian magazine of the year went to Alberta Views. For the full list of winners go to Art director and editor Rick Staehling was also recognized last week with the coveted lifetime achievement honour. Look for the July/August issue of Masthead for more on Staehling.

June 27, 2005
St. Joseph Media executive leaves post
TORONTO—Tony Gagliano, executive chairman and CEO of St. Joseph Communications, announced this afternoon that St. Joseph Media group president Greg MacNeil won’t be coming back to work next Monday. His last day is July 1st. The 30-year publishing veteran joined St. Joseph in 2001 when it acquired Multi-Vision Publishing from himself and his partners. That four-year buyout period ended last December and after six months of discussion, MacNeil is moving on. No longer an owner in the company, “I’ve always had an issue about authority and responsibility,” says MacNeil. “There were certain issues where I’ve had too much help,” he says, alluding to his sense that he didn’t have enough authority to properly execute certain business decisions. “Tony and I have a very good relationship… It’s simply a matter of how the business is managed and they have a long-term view of the business and I think I share that long-term view but I think we sort of differ on how we should get there. I’ve done what I’ve done for a long time so maybe it’s my inability to adjust.” That long-term view includes building St. Joseph Media into the largest publishing company in Canada, says Gagliano. It’s currently third. “Our opportunity as an organization [to get] into the whole publishing business would not have been possible without Greg,” he says. MacNeil also helped facilitate St. Joseph’s acquisition of Key Media in 2001. He oversaw all of St. Joseph’s 10-plus titles including Toronto Life, Saturday Night, Fashion and its new title Wish, which all joined under one roof last fall. Gagliano will act as interim president while they look for a replacement. He says it will be business as usual and he has no plans to change the senior team who will now report to him. MacNeil plans to spend the summer reading, swimming and fishing at his cottage with his family. “I haven’t had a summer off since I was 14,” and yet, he says, he’s not ready to retire. Will this be the last the magazine industry sees of Greg MacNeil? “I hope not.”

June 23, 2005
Proposed copyright amendment to protect photographers
OTTAWA—Photographers will be smiling more than their subjects if the bill to amend Canada’s Copyright Act, introduced here on Monday, is passed. In addition to a number of provisions, including revising the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization Treaties and issuing liability for Internet service providers, the bill intends to “harmonize the treatment of photographers with that of other creators,” states a Canadian Heritage news release. “Photographers are the only creators in Canada that have never automatically owned copyright for their works,” says Brian Boyle, copyright chair for the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC). Currently, photographers must use their own contracts with clients to assign copyright to their work. If the bill is passed, it will be the first time the Copyright Act has been amended since 1997. Boyle says the PPOC, along with other industry coalitions such as The Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators in Communications, have been pushing for change since the mid-80s. “Canada is the last country in the industrialized world to bring about changes [for photographers] to the Copyright Act.” Over 80% of U.S. photographers surveyed by the American Society of Media Photographers participate in stock photography, an industry that thrives on copyright ownership. It’s been suggested, therefore, that Canadian photographers may be losing $50,000 to $100,000 in revenue a year through exclusion from this worldwide market because they do not own copyright to their commissioned works. What does this mean for publishers? Boyle doesn’t see a huge change to the way commercial photography will be handled, however, he says, “We hope that industry will accept the amendment to the law and continue to work with photographers they same way that they have, but understand that if they want 2nd or 3rd rights then it’s a matter of renegotiating with the photographer.”

June 21, 2005
Stats Can releases survey on mag industry
TORONTO—It’s been years in the making, and long overdue. Finally, on June 8, Statistics Canada released the 2003 Periodical Publishing Survey. The last survey was conducted in 1998/99.
According to the report, the magazine industry has been growing physically and financially over the last decade. Industry revenues for 2003 were $1.553 billion, up 22.5% from 1998 and 56.5% from 1993. In 2003, over 1,600 publishers produced 1,678 titles (a 42% jump over 1993) and sold close to 778 million copies. The industry has also seen an increase in ad revenue, subscription and single-copy sales over 1998. Ad sales were $993.5 million in 2003, up 18.5%. Subscription sales accounted for $291.3 million of total revenues, up slightly from 1998 at 1.5%. The biggest gain was in single-copy sales, which jumped 21.6% to $117.7 million in 2003. Response rate for the survey was 67.5% with some administrative data used from the Department of Canadian Heritage. For more information visit

June 17, 2005
Magazine association gets new name and chairwoman
TORONTO—The industry’s “worst kept secret,” according to Canadian Magazine Publishers Association president Mark Jamison, is now official. The association is now called Magazines Canada. Members voted on the name change at the CMPA’s annual general meeting at Mags U last week. Its new logo will be rolled out in July. Many members feel the new name is a welcome change, as it works well in both of Canada’s official languages and has little risk of turning into an obscure acronym. It was argued that CMPA meant nothing to people outside of the industry and its new moniker is more appropriate for advocating purposes with the government and general public. Also voted in was new board chair Deborah Rosser, publisher of Canadian Business. In her first address as chair, Rosser said she’d like to set the bar in what she’s calling a “fight for 50” (per cent of the market). “We need to insist on more space on our newsstands.” Canadians want their own stories, says Rosser, and as one name, one voice, one industry, Magazines Canada’s underlining goal is to champion Canadian-content magazines as a key cultural and economic driver in this country.

Editors pick their top mag choices
TORONTO—Last Thursday, the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors celebrated the achievements of editors and their magazines at its annual awards dinner during Magazines University. But it was a good thing former Maclean’s editor Tony Wilson-Smith didn’t stick around. During his after-dinner address, the evening’s guest speaker shared his distaste for the National Magazine Awards, calling it a self-important, self-congratulatory and insular event. But those comments didn’t dampen spirits at the CSME awards later that night. Magazine of the year awards went to explore in the small mag category (under 50,000 circ), Outdoor Canada (50,000-150,000 circ) and Canadian Gardening (over 150,000). Patrick Walsh of Outdoor Canada (and former Masthead editor) was recognized as best editor of the year, Vancouver magazine took home the award for best front of the book and the Jim Cormier Display Writing award went to Profit.

June 15, 2005
Major shake-up at Maclean’s
TORONTO—Numerous staff departures were announced today at Canada’s newsweekly including the dismissal of art director Donna Braggins and executive editors Michael Benedict and Bob Levin. Their positions will be filled in the next few months. Also let go was chief of research Valerie Marchant and researcher-reporters Leah Bowness, Robert Hoshowsky, Michael MacLean, Karin Marley and Michael Snider. All of the positions will be reallocated to hire new editors and reporters, with two staffers and two interns remaining in Maclean’s research department. These changes come three months after Ken Whyte, former editor of Saturday Night (1994-1998) and founding editor-in-chief of the National Post (1998-2003), took over as editor and publisher of the newsmagazine. Whyte will not comment on the departures. When asked in the April 2005 edition of Masthead if Whyte will be adding to staffing levels, he responded by saying, “It’s not going to happen overnight. I’m looking for long term, serious growth and real sustainable progress.” Since 1999, Maclean’s estimated revenues have declined 17% to $35.4 million in 2004 while paid circulation has declined 20.3% to 401,080. Rogers’ Marc Blondeau, senior vice-president of consumer publishing, told Masthead in February that the budget has been increased for 2005 to boost frequency from 45 to 49 issues.
Last week, Maclean’s announced the appointment of contributing editor Luiza Savage, based in Washington, and the promotion of national business columnist Steve Maich, who now has the additional title of senior editor. Maich received one of three golds that Maclean’s won at the National Magazine Awards on Friday.

June 14, 2005
And the winners are… NMA recipients announced
TORONTO—Last Friday, magaziners wound down after an exciting week at Magazines University—officially declared Magazine Week in the city of Toronto by Mayor David Miller—to celebrate the work of the best and the brightest this industry has to offer. The 28th annual National Magazine Awards, held at the Carlu and hosted by writer and broadcaster Ian Brown, was, as always, a big success. Garnering the largest number of accolades was Toronto Life with four gold awards and four silvers. Next was The Walrus with four golds and two silvers. Saturday Night and Toro walked away with two golds and three silvers apiece. And Rogers Publishing’s French and English-language newsmagazines, L’actualité and Maclean’s, both went home with three golds and a silver each. For a complete list of winners visit

The magazine with the biggest bragging rights that evening was President’s Medal winner Maisonneuve, a small, English-language, arts, culture and general-interest magazine from Montreal. According to NMAF president Christian Bellavance, the judges remarked that the magazine was an admirable product that took risks and was full of chutzpah. An honourable mention went to Toronto-based photography magazine Prefix Photo, which the judges said is currently the best looking magazine in Canada.

Also honoured was magazine veteran Paul Jones, former publisher of Maclean’s and a senior vice-president of Rogers Publishing, with the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement. With a publishing career spanning three decades and years of volunteerism under his belt, including the NMAF, Jones is one of the most notable mentors in the industry. Addressing the audience after accepting his award, Jones said, “If this guy is so great, why can’t he keep a job?” From his safely retired vantage point, Jones shared what he felt currently dogged the industry. “We don’t have to be satisfied with who we are.” He suggested shaking things up a little by encouraging foreign capital to strengthen Canadian content so that when Canadian publishers are ready to sell they can get a fair price. He also recommended creating an arms-length watchdog to regulate Canada Post. His third opinion was to standardize where the line is drawn between editorial and advertising. How far a magazine is prepared to bend to appease advertisers should not be seen as a sales advantage, said Jones, who will most likely be involved in trying to implement some of these suggestions over the coming years.

June 9, 2005
Circulators celebrated at Mags U
TORONTO—After the first day of seminars at Magazines University on Tuesday, industry members gathered at the Masthead Trade Show for a glass of wine and the announcement of winners for this year’s Canadian Newsstand Awards. Best new magazine—a new category introduced this year—was awarded to the English edition of Loulou’s launch issue, which garnered a 54% sell-through rate. In the small magazine category (circulations under 10,000), Montreal-based Maisonneuve won for the second year in a row. Best mid-sized magazine (10,000-75,000) went to Cottage Life for its issue, Cabin Fever. In the large magazine category (75,000-200,000), Elle Canada’s winning issue had a 49.2% sell-through rate and a 110% increase in unit sales over the same issue in the previous year. Canadian House & Home was awarded top mag in the extra-large category. Its winning issue had a 64.4% sell-through rate and a 21% increase in units over its average for that year. Newsstand cover of the year went to Canadian Business for its summer 2004 edition, The Investor 500; also its 1,000th issue. Winners received credits toward newsstand promotions. And Newsstand Marketer of the Year, an award that promotes the promoters, went to Peter Willson, director of retail sales at Rogers Publishing. Over his watch, unit sales at Rogers (excluding launches) have jumped 29% over the last two years.
Yesterday, two more circulators were recognized for their achievements. Canadian Controlled Media Corporation’s (CCMC) Tuppy Blair was granted a scholarship from the Circulation Management Association of Canada (CMC) to attend the Stanford Publishing Courses in California. And SkyNews publisher Greg Keilty was awarded CMC Marketer of the Year for his lifetime achievement in circulation.

June 7, 2005
CA Magazine comes out on top at KRWs
TORONTO—Celebrating excellence in the business press, the 2005 Kenneth R. Wilson Awards were held here last night. This year, the KRWs received 759 nominations in 20 categories, a record number of entries for the awards program, which is now in its 51st year. Taking a chunk of the $30,000 in prize money was CA Magazine with three silvers and four golds, including Best Issue for its November 2004 edition. Six out of its seven awards were in the visual category. Marketing, The Medical Post and OHS Canada walked away with three awards apiece. The Medical Post scooped three golds for Best Regular Featured Department or Column, Best Feature and Best How-To Article. Marketing won gold for Best Website and OHS Canada took gold for Best Industrial/Manufacturing Article. Another multi-award winner was Le Coopérateur Agricole, which swept the Best Agricultural Article category. For a full list of nominees and winners visit The KRW awards ceremony is the first in a week of magazine seminars, awards, events and a trade show at the annual Magazines University conference, on today till Friday at The Old Mill. Keep watch at MastheadOnline for a list of winners from the Canadian Newsstand Awards presented tonight and the National Magazine Awards, held on Friday at the Carlu.

June 2, 2005
Finalists announced for Canadian Newsstand Awards
TORONTO—Whether by special promotion, editorial allure or brilliant packaging—or a combination of all three forces—there were magazines in 2004 that attained astounding single-copy sales success. Judges for the Canadian Newsstand Awards/Grand prix d’excellence en kiosque have identified the finalists at A winner from each of the four main categories, which are set by circulation (extra-large, large, mid-size and small), will be announced at a 5 p.m. reception held at the Masthead Trade Show on Tuesday June 7 at Toronto’s Old Mill Inn & Spa, host to Magazines University. Judging criteria were twofold: actual sales results represent 50% of the score while the other half was determined by aesthetic and design factors.
Winners of the extra-large, large and mid-size categories will receive $3,500 in credits toward newsstand promotional programs offered by HDS Retail. Winner of the small magazine category will receive $1,000 in credits and $500 cash. A new category, Best New Magazine, will also be announced and featured in an ad to appear in the June 13 issue of Marketing magazine, along with the other winners. Contenders for best new mag are: Loulou, The Walrus and Wish.
View all the finalists of the fourth-annual Canadian Newsstand Awards at

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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!...