Tag Archives: Macleans

Rogers sells publishing division, including Maclean’s, to St. Joseph Communications

Rogers just announced it has sold its publishing division, including magazines, digital publications and custom content business, to St. Joseph Communications, the owner of Toronto Life and other magazines. The deal is expected to close in April but no financial information was announced. St. Joseph says it will keep all current employees.

It’s been known for a while that Rogers has been trying to offload its magazines to focus on broadcasting and telecom. The big question was who was going to buy it. A sale was reportedly in the works last fall to Graeme Roustan, owner of The Hockey News, but that deal fell apart. There was also reportedly a proposal by employees of the division to buy it, but Rogers did not seem to like that idea.

The deal includes Maclean’s, Chatelaine (English and French), Today’s Parent and HELLO! Canada, plus the “digital publications” Flare and Canadian Business. It does not include MoneySense (the Roustan deal also excluded that website, and it was sold to another buyer) nor anything Sportsnet-branded.

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Rogers will shut down L’actualité if a buyer isn’t found by December

Rogers Media Unveils New Magazine Content Strategy” reads the press release, in typical vague fashion. The upshot is that Rogers is making severe cuts to its magazine portfolio, moving some online-only, reducing publication frequencies of others (including Maclean’s), and selling off the rest.

Except Hello! Canada, the celeb gossip mag. Nothing’s changing there.


Going out of print (but keeping websites “with new content posted daily”):

  • Flare (was 12 issues a year)
  • Sportsnet Magazine (was 15 issues a year)
  • MoneySense (was 8 issues a year)
  • Canadian Business (was 16 issues a year)

Reducing frequency:

  • Maclean’s (from weekly to monthly)
  • Chatelaine (from monthly to 6x a year)
  • Today’s Parent (from monthly to 6x a year)

For sale:

  • All business-to-business publications (including Canadian Grocer and Marketing)
  • L’actualité (18 issues a year)
  • Châtelaine (French, 12 issues a year)
  • LOULOU (French and English, 8 issues a year each)

The changes take effect in January. The notice to subscribers says the French magazines will “cease publication” in December, which means if a buyer isn’t found by then, they’re going to shut down.

The fact that Rogers is openly putting these magazines up for sale suggests that obvious potential buyers are not interested (i.e. TVA Publications). But maybe there’s some deep-pocketed person who would be willing to give L’actualité a second chance.

This news comes the same week Rogers announced the shutdown of shomi, its subscription video-on-demand service. You have to wonder what’s next, and in particular what this might mean for Texture, its bulk magazine subscription app. (Rogers tells the Financial Post that Texture makes a profit.)

No word on how many jobs will be lost as a result of these changes. How many magazines are sold versus shut down will have a big impact on that number.

And colour me pessimistic on the future of magazines that have been turned into digital-only publications. Just about every print publication that has gone online-only in the past has eventually been shut down all together.

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The federal leaders’ debate was good, but the analysis of it was awful

Though it was in the middle of a busy newsroom close to deadline, I tried my best to watch and listen to the federal leaders’ debate last night. It could be the only time during this election season that we see those four party leaders on a stage together.

If you missed it, it’s on YouTube (I can’t embed it here because Maclean’s doesn’t want me to).

Especially in the context of a simultaneous circus of clowns south of the border, it was nice to see four smart, articulate leaders lay out their policies and policy differences under the bright lights. I saw Stephen Harper defend his record on his own without his party machine behind him. I saw Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau set out their economic policies and criticize the current government on its record, all without losing their temper. And I saw Elizabeth May, my pick as winner of the debate, establish herself as an excellent debater with a solid grasp of economic issues.

Sure, there were some annoying things about the debate itself, like the constant interrupting, the repeating of scripted talking points, and the useless closing messages. And limiting the debate to four topics meant a lot of stuff did not get addressed, which is a big issue if Harper doesn’t want to engage in any more general-issue debates in English.

But in general, I was pretty well informed. Maclean’s, moderator Paul Wells and broadcaster City TV deserve credit for this.

Unfortunately, I also watched the hour-long post-debate analysis show, as well as three useless non-commercial breaks during the debate, and it sent me into a bit of a rage.

Rather than discuss whose economic policies make more sense, or fact-check what the leaders said, or really discuss the issues in any way, we got the same old post-debate “who won” discussion, as if leading a country is more about showing off your dramatic presentation skills than having a better plan.

It’s one thing if you don’t take yourself too seriously (like BuzzFeed), but I expected better from the official broadcaster of the debate (even though Rogers pushed the analysis show to OMNI so it could air another U.S. primetime drama on City).

A discussion of a useless Facebook poll after about 20 minutes of debate.

A discussion of a useless Facebook poll after about 20 minutes of debate with Kevin Chan, right.

After the first half-hour, City took a three-minute break to give us an interview with a journalism student in Toronto and a Facebook poll that its analyst admitted wasn’t really based on anything said during the debate because people hadn’t had the chance to listen to the leaders yet. Even though the result of 50% for Mulcair should have been a dead giveaway that the poll is not at all reflective of the Canadian population, they went with it anyway. They also broadcast results showing Canadians almost unanimously in favour of proportional representation and carbon taxes, even though actual scientific polls don’t show anything even remotely similar. And there was the stunning revelation that people in Alberta talk more about oil than the rest of the country.

How this was useful to viewers is beyond me.

Twitter's Steve Ladurantaye, left, discusses how much people were talking about the leaders.

Twitter’s Steve Ladurantaye, left, discusses how much people were talking about the leaders.

Then there was the Twitter discussion, in which they analyzed how much people were talking about the leaders. What they were saying, of course, wasn’t important, and wasn’t discussed.

I guess what we can learn from this is that Donald Trump would make a great Canadian prime minister. Because volume is more important than content.

"Body language expert" Mark Bowden, right, criticizes Elizabeth May's glasses and dress during OMNI's post-debate analysis show with Gord Martineau, left.

“Body language expert” Mark Bowden, right, criticizes Elizabeth May’s glasses and dress during OMNI’s post-debate analysis show with Gord Martineau, left.

But what infuriated me most was when they brought on a body language expert to literally discuss style over substance. Setting aside the sexist criticisms of Elizabeth May’s attire (there was no mention of how any of the other leaders were dressed), the segment reinforced the fact that during a debate, what you say isn’t as important as how you say it.

Throughout the three-hour broadcast, there were panel discussions about who was winning the debate. Some of that discussion was based on what the leaders said, but much of it was about how they said what they said. Were the leaders confident? Did they make any gaffes?

Don’t get me wrong, the leader of a country should have good public speaking skills. A big part of being a leader is being able to convince people to do things for you, so style matters. But this incessant focus on treating the debate like a boxing match or tennis tournament just hammers in the idea that the issues don’t really matter. That if you want to be a politician, it’s better to hone your skills in theatre school than law school.

We Canadians like to think we’re better than the Americans when it comes to our politicians. We look at Donald Trump and we laugh. But based on what I saw of this debate analysis, I don’t see why, if Trump was in this debate, the media wouldn’t have been unanimous in concluding that he would have “won” it.

This is an election, not a policy convention

Let me get this straight: Maclean’s is writing articles about … issues? Policy issues? Analysis?

I’m taken aback here. Where are the opinion poll percentages? The endless back and forth over slips of the tongue? The shallow promises that “we have to do more”? The counting of Facebook friends as a quantitative measure of party popularity?

This isn’t the journalism I spent five minutes teaching myself in order to weasel my way into a career doing.

Shame on you Maclean’s.

Claire Danes haunts my dreams

Macleans Newsmakers

Dear Macleans,

I’m not a very frequent visitor to your website, but even I’ve begun to be disturbed by this photo of Claire Danes, which has appeared on every article page for over six months now. It draws attention to the fact that your “weekly newsmakers” photo gallery hasn’t been updated since August.

More importantly though, she’s starting to really creep me out. It’s kind of a mindless expression in the first place, as if she was just turned into a zombie or something, but with none of those rotting scabs and messed-up hairdos they all have.

If you don’t intend to update it (Nissan not paying the bills any more?), could you delete it from your template, along with all the other stuff that’s gathering dust on a virtual shelf somewhere?

Thank you.

Why don’t the Habs stink?

Maclean’s is going for the big popularity grab with a front-page story on why the Toronto Maple Leafs are such a piss-poor hockey team. It focuses mainly on the fact that the organization makes lots of money whether the team wins or not, and there’s not as much pressure to succeed. It blames apparently systemic internal management problems, as well as the complacency of the Leafs audience, which pays the largest ticket prices in the NHL year after disappointing year.

To me, this brings up a simple question: Why don’t the Montreal Canadiens have the same problem? The Bell Centre hasn’t had an unpaid-for regular-season seat in years, including all 82 games last year — a year we finished one point below the Leafs and out of the playoffs. It’s not like the Habs aren’t also scamming fans out of money by focusing on the past instead of the present.

One clue is briefly touched on in the article, so passing a mention that it’s enclosed in parentheses: The media.

For all the references to the city’s rabid media corps, the team is, in fact, treated with kid gloves and feted at any sign of improvement.

This would seem to contrast with the Montreal media’s treatment of the Canadiens. Anything short of the Stanley Cup is unacceptable (though no serious journalist put the team anywhere near the top of the standings they’re sitting in now — most didn’t even have them making the playoffs). We’ll berate you if you don’t speak our language, and we’ll even bug you while you’re recovering in a hospital bed. Oh, and make sure you repeat your answer to our questions 16 different times so everyone gets it. It’s gotten so bad, head coach Guy Carbonneau had to step in this week and ask the media to calm down.
So I ask you, dear readers (and bloggers, including the ones I totally dissed yesterday): What makes the Habs better than the Leafs in the long-term?

  1. The media are more demanding of the Canadiens than the Leafs
  2. The fans are more demanding of the Canadiens than the Leafs (even if both teams sell out all their games)
  3. The Leafs have institutional problems that are not inherent in their being a monopoly
  4. George Gillett/Bob Gainey are leading with their hearts, not their wallets, and are flying in the face of economic theory because they’re hockey fans
  5. Nothing. Montreal’s success this season is a fluke caused by a lack on injuries and dumb luck
  6. Nothing. The Leafs are just having a bad year and will come back to win it all in 2009!
  7. Luck / quantum theory / God hates the Leafs
  8. This other super-brilliant theory I just came up with

Something to think about as the Habs totally kick the Leafs’ ass tonight at the Bell Centre. (I’m working in sports tonight, so if you think of an awesome headline to mark the triumphant win, let me know and I’ll arrange to get it rejected by a senior editor.)

On the importance of online copy-editing

Came upon this article at Macleans.ca about online gambling in Kahnawake, and noticed what appeared to be a strange typo in the headline:

Maclean’s encoding error

As of this writing, it’s still not corrected, which I guess means that nobody at Maclean’s checks articles once they’ve gone online.

Here’s how the end of that headline appears in the HTML code:

Even if it means starting a fight.

So it’s not my browser. It explicitly says “lowercase i with umlaut, mathematical negation symbol, and non-existent character with code #129.” My browser just did what it was told.

But why did this happen? For that we have to delve into two technical subjects I’ll do my best to explain: Unicode and ligatures.

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Maclean’s student activism series focuses on Concordia

Kate Lunau, a former Concordia journalism student (who interned at The Gazette last summer) writes Part 1 of a Maclean’s series on student activism, which focuses on Concordia University and the risk assessment committee which is headed by its VP services and … uhh … “doesn’t exist” according to the university.

It quotes David Bernans, the professional student behind the crusade against this secret committee after it “mistakenly” stopped a reading from his book last year.

It also mentions my alma mater, The Link, and its editorial demanding more transparency in the university’s handling of security issues.