Saturday, February 26, 2005

Picking on an easy target

It seems there isn't an event at which industry gossip is prevalent but when someone says something disparaging about Maclean's magazine. There can be various opinions expressed: either that the magazine is crap; or that nobody reads it; or both.

Perhaps every industry needs a whipping boy, and Maclean's is it. But isn't it curious that such disparagement seems to come from people who haven't read or subscribed to the magazine in years? The other day at a major industry event, one player said proudly that he rarely sees it except when he's in his dentist's office; however this didn't prevent him from opining on the magazine's defects. So, essentially, he was basing his opinion on hearsay and his six-month checkup.

Everybody doesn't have to like Maclean's, or even respect its journalism. But it's hard to argue with its publishing success. Its single copy sales alone outstrip the circulation of hundreds of other Canadian magazines. Its subscribers number 400,000+. And while the magazine is smaller in circulation than it once was, it is one of the largest titles in this country and reaches many people who subscribe to nothing else. That's reach and influence. Following the 'rule of 10', if this were publishing in the U.S., Maclean's would have a circulation of about 4 million.

It's hard to blame Maclean's staff for feeling beset by unfair criticism. They know that it comes from members of the chattering classes who have never worked there, don't read the magazine and don't subscribe to it.

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