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The Online Edition

By Zoe Szuch

Information can span the globe in seconds and can be read by millions thanks to the Internet. Distant lands are just a few clicks away and information on anything imaginable is readily available. Stuck in Guatemala and you need to know who made it to the playoffs? Not a problem – a few clicks on your laptop and you can join a hockey pool in no time. The Internet has affected every industry in one way or another, including the Canadian magazine industry.

Here are two approaches from Canadian publications living with and prospering from the Internet.
Managing editor of Chart magazine Aaron Brophy said Chart decided to do something regarding the Internet 10 years ago.

Brophy explains that at the time publications were either putting their entire print content online or not putting anything online at all. Chart on the other hand “figured out very early on that [it] should keep [its] content different and unique between the site and the magazine,” said Brophy.

The web provided Chart with the tools to efficiently distribute music news. Brophy said that initially, Chart covered daily music news, with a few stories each day. Currently Chart covers roughly 10 music news stories daily. The Internet allows for CD reviews to be done on release day, said Brophy.

Essentially, the immediacy of the web has allowed Chart to “do very time sensitive, very time specific news breaking things” – something the monthly print edition cannot do, Brophy explained.

Having the magazine online also caters to two different audiences. For example, Celine Dion fans might not buy a magazine with Sloan or Simple Plan on the cover; however her fans may read a CD review located in the online edition, Brophy said. 

Even though the music industry is at a crossroads with the Internet and, in
particular, file-sharing, the future of Chart magazine looks bright. “There is always going to be a market for a physical product, a pretty magazine with nice pictures and pages, easily transportable and something you can share with your friends,” Brophy said. Even if the demand for print music magazines wilts, the demand for online editions will bloom.

While Chart uses its online edition to provide a sense of immediacy that the print version cannot achieve, Canadian Geographic uses its online edition as a supplement to their print version.

“Many Canadian magazines are moving towards seeing online as being a marketing arm,” said Tobi McIntyre, Canadian Geographic’s online editor. However for Canadian Geographic, “The editorial content for us is the king online. We recognize people don’t go to a website if there isn’t good quality content and that’s what we are trying to do.”

The web had its challenges at first. McIntyre said, the layout and design of the online magazine was created by the same people who do the print layout. The idea that what worked in print (image laden pages with columns) would work online was wrong, said McIntyre.

“So it’s no longer about how pretty it is as far as design, it’s more about how the architecture [of the site] relates to the content. That’s really the main goal now with online magazines,” said McIntyre.

Canadian Geographic plans to have an electronic delivery system, where a modified PDF file is emailed to a recipient directly.

The electronic edition allows the reader to obtain instant access to online links as well as slideshow features and video streams. “So it creates a bridge between your print and your online content,” McIntyre said.

Although the future of Canadian magazines may look uncertain thanks to
the Internet, “people are always going to want to have their print magazines,” McIntyre said. “They’re going to want to sit next to the fireplace and read their magazine with their cup of coffee or bring it along with them – that’s never going to die.”