Ken Alexander is no longer The Walrus. The Walrus Foundation board of directors accepted his resignation today. Alexander, who helped found the five-year-old general interest publication, will step down July 4 after the September issue is put to bed. “I have resigned to pursue other interests and, yes, to spend more time with my family,” Alexander said in a press release. "In so many respects, my four years as editor has been a dream job."
The Walrus has won 27 gold, 15 silver and 93 honourable mentions at the National Magazine Awards, most of them under Alexander's editorship, and was named Magazine of the Year in 2006. Alexander also made an impact on the publishing side. He advanced $2.7 million of his inheritance to the magazine and was integral in securing charitable status for the magazine, allowing it to find stable financial footing.
The Alexander era was also marked by frequent turnover, at both board and staff levels (the most recent departures were senior editors Marni Jackson and Nora Underwood, though they are officially on leave and may return to the staff). Alexander's drinking, unusual, long work hours and occasionally frazzled appearance often provided fodder for both the gossip columns and after-work discussions among magaziners. But, as he told a group of journalism students back in 2006, none of that matters to Alexander, who had his own, unique benchmarks for success.
"We can judge how we're doing in two ways,” he was quoted saying in a Ryerson Review of Journalism feature on the magazine. “Not [by] my drinking problems. Those are irrelevant. They are a major concern of certain journalists, even student journalists at Ryerson. Not my maniacal behaviour, either. That's irrelevant. Yes, I work a lot. It's irrelevant… Not the magazine awards. That's irrelevant — it's nice, but it's irrelevant. We can judge how we're doing in two ways. Does Marci McDonald want to work with us again… and will [historian] Margaret MacMillan renew her subscription? If those two things are happening, then we're doing our job."
- "Into the Wild" [Ryerson Review of Journalism]