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We Can Relaunch it...
We Have the Technology

Magazine failing? Reboot!

 

By Amanda Gomes

Coda magazines
Coda is one of many magazines that has re-launched

Amanda Gomes

Coda, one of Canada’s oldest music magazines, has been reinvented several times since it was founded by John Norris 50 years ago.
When Norris sold Coda in 2001 to its current publisher, Mark Barnes, Barnes decided to “reintroduce” the magazine and give it an edgier style.

Andrew Jacob Scott, a professor in the music department at Humber College, freelanced for Coda for a few years before he took over as editor-in-chief in 2007. Scott says when Norris was in control of Coda, it was more a news magazine. “If you wanted to know who was playing at a club in San Francisco,” he says, “you could pick up Coda and find out.”

When Scott took over as editor, he added eight pages to the 40-page magazine. His goal is to offer a journalistic view of jazz in features and other stories. He also wants to take the current demographic of the magazine, which is 50-plus, and expand it to a younger audience.

Scott says his biggest challenge is finding a balance between attracting new readers and keeping Coda’s long-time fans intrigued and reading.

Coda has a historical scoop to it,” he says. “It’s not about who is hot today and not tomorrow.”
Also, since the ownership and design of Coda have changed over time, readers often compare the magazine to what it was like in the hands of previous editors.

For example, when Bill Smith was Coda’s editor-in-chief in the 1960s, it became a more scholarly magazine, with lengthy pieces and longer profiles. Now that Scott is in charge, he plans on expanding the online edition of the magazine, in part by adding exclusive stories.

Existere is another magazine that is no stranger to re-launching.A journal that focuses on literature and poetry, Existere was founded in 1978. It is run by 30 York University student volunteers, 12 of whom are senior staff members. 

Edward Fenner became editor-in-chief in April 2007 after submitting a proposal as part of a job competition. He felt that the journal would be an excellent opportunity for writers, poets and artists both on and off campus to write for a professional publication. Fenner says he also wants Existere to reflect the quality of York University’s various writing programs.

Content, focus, and presentation were three of the main things that changed during the magazine’s re-launch, though Existere has always kept poetry and short stories at its core.

Fenner says remembering the history of the magazine is very important when trying to re-evaluate its mission. In the past, Existere often published articles from people all over the world, along with works of fiction. Fenner reintroduced these aspects to the magazine. Existere had no subscribers until the first re-launched issue was released. After its face-lift, the magazine had about 40 individual subscribers and about 10 bulk subscribers that requested 10 or more issues each.

Fenner says it is too early to measure the success of the re-launch, but he says he has received much positive feedback.