Thursday, July 28, 2011

Local Food Magazine City Palate Satisfies the Craving

I'd like to introduce you to today's blog contributor and AMPA volunteer Kate Arsenault. As a recent graduate from her post-secondary English program studies, Kate is eager to explore the world of publishing. I asked her to tell me about her passion for foodie magazines, and why she's such a devout reader of City Palate in particular.

The Local Food Magazine Appeal
What is it about local foodie magazines like Calgary’s City Palate or Edmonton’s The Tomato that so draw my attention? They do not simply satisfy a craving that is distinct to who I am as a food lover and a cook. Unlike those generic glossy-paged collections of articles and photographs compiled by an editor in Who-Knows-Where, USA, City Palate is honest, gritty and fresh. Like Albertans, I suppose. Local magazines appeal to me because they are… well, just that. Local.

Culinary Adventures in the City and Beyond
When I open City Palate, I stumble upon a full page advertisement for a year-round farmers market featuring local produce, followed by an article on the many uses of the glorious rhubarb that grows as fast as Calgary itself. Pushing further, I learn of the culinary adventures that exist beyond my own city limits. That, in its essence, is what attracts me to this magazine. From within its pages I hear the call of the just-down-the-street and the call-of-the-wild.

City Palate Draws Albertans In
With the release of every issue my love for this city and this province is cultivated, and I learn more about the people who call Alberta home. City Palate draws Albertans in around a vast dinner table to serve up a taste of who we really are.

--- Kate Arsenault
AMPA Volunteer and Blogger

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Support Journalism Students with Third Annual Sugar Bowl Fundraiser

Sugar Bowl Tournament and Fundraiser
Registration is now open for the 3rd Annual Sugar Bowl Lawn Bowling Tournament and Fundraiser in support of the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation.

When: August 27th, 5pm
Where: The Calgary Lawn Bowling Club, 1238 - 16 Avenue SW
What: The Best Time of Your Life on a Bowling Green (and for a good cause!)

Tickets for Bowling, Cheering, Food and Drink
Tickets cost $70 per person or $280 for a team of four. If you register a full team, you'll get two “fan” tickets ($30 value) as well as team name buttons for your whole group. Fan tickets can also be purchased for $15 each and allow you to come out and cheer the teams on and have food and drink with all of the Sugar Bowlers (you just don’t get to play). All participants will receive a barbecue dinner and two drink tickets.

Raise That Publishing Community Spirit
This is also the prime opportunity for members of the publishing community to face off. Will the Alberta Views team steal the championship this year? Or will it be RedPoint? What about JuneWarren? Or will it be the Swerve team? Or maybe Avenue's Jenn Hamilton will be the dark horse on the winning team once again (pictured above with the Sugar Bowl trophy). Only way to find out is to register and come!

Both team and individual registrations can be found at and you can pay online through Paypal or by mailing a cheque.

Support Journalism Students with Auction Donations
Money raised at the Sugar Bowl will go toward creating an endowment for an ongoing journalism scholarship at Mount Royal University in Amber’s name.

The Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation is looking for donations for our Sugar Bowl silent auction. If you have anything you’d like to donate, please contact

Deadline to purchase tickets is Thursday, August 25. See y'all there!
--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger in Residence

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sayonara, or until next time...

Some of you may be wondering about the posting for the AMPA E.D. position. Yes, it's official. I've resigned and will not be returning to steer the AMPA ship this fall. I thought I'd take a moment on the AMPA blog to share a fond farewell. A bit self-indulgent, yes, but I figure if Oprah can do it, why can't I?

When I first took the E.D. position back in 2005, I knew I had a big job to do. I'd never been in such a position before, but with my editorial and communications background, I knew that I could effectively tackle many of AMPA's challenges and at least manage the rest. Talk about a steep learning curve! Despite having worked in magazines, I knew little about the entire industry, and man, did I get schooled! It really is easy to fall into your own little world, putting out your own magazine, without much thought for what else is happening in the industry. I discovered in a hurry the many unique demands that publishers face, and how even within our relatively small industry, these demands vary by genre and size of magazine.

I soon set to work trying to figure out how best to support Alberta publishers to meet these various demands. Two critical factors became evident: professional development and sustainability. And that is how I spent much of my time at AMPA: providing useful and engaging PD to help Alberta magazine professionals compete in an ever-changing media landscape, and devising ways to drum up government and public support for Alberta magazines whether through funding, subscriptions or attending events. In doing so, I've had the chance to work on a number of rewarding projects and see firsthand how different magazines benefited from our work. In particular, I'm proud of how the Alberta Magazines Conference has continued to grow and evolve to the point where speakers would approach me to present instead of me having to woo/stalk them.

Through my work, I also got to know many people within the industry both provincially and nationally--publishers, editors, designers, sales execs, printers, and the like--as well as those outside the industry--funding agencies, government representatives, professors and of course, readers. I'm happy to say that many of these people have come to be not just colleagues but good friends--some of them I'm sure will be life-long friends.

I've always said that the mag biz is one built with passion. This may sound cheesy, but it's true. No one really works in mags for the money or the glamourous lifestyle (ha!). I was always grateful that I had a job that I truly cared about; one that actually had a positive benefit on people's lives and one where I didn't feel like throwing myself out a window after a few months or poking out my eyeballs after a few years.

That said, it's the right time to move on. I never really thought I'd have kids, and while having one has definitely changed my outlook on the world, she's not the only reason I've decided to change gears. While the work at AMPA is never done, I feel like I've done all I needed to do to set the organization up for a long and successful future. Early on, I dealt with some dark financial times, which was important because it taught me to be frugal and creative about how to stretch a dollar. Now we are more fiscally secure than we've ever been. And, after seeing Andrew's hard work in my stead, I'm even more confident the good work AMPA does can and will carry on. Unfortunately, it won't be Andrew who will carry the torch moving forward (he has some exciting plans of his own!), but I'm sure we will find another capable and passionate individual to continue down this path. (Interested readers, please see posting below.)

I will still be involved with AMPA as a consultant and blogger, and will still cross paths with many member magazines as a freelance writer/editor (wink, wink, nudge, nudge editors!). In the meantime, I thank all of you for helping to make my time at AMPA so gratifying, and I hope that I was able to support you in some way during that time. Onward and upward! Or as Op would say, "Live your best life."

--Colleen Seto
[Former AMPA Executive Director]
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Friday, July 15, 2011

Take the Helm at AMPA! Be the Next Executive Director

Executive Director, Alberta Magazine Publishers Association (AMPA)
(posted July 14, 2011)
Deadline to apply: August 5, 2011 

The Alberta Magazine Publishers Association is looking for a highly skilled professional to take the helm. As executive director, you will provide overall management and leadership in the implementation of a varied set of programs and services, under the direction of a Board of Directors. 

AMPA is a non-profit, member-based association that works to support Alberta’s magazine publishing industry. Services that AMPA provides include professional development workshops, an annual conference, promotional campaigns, networking events and support for internships, and travel bursaries.

Your job as executive director is to plan, execute and evaluate all of the programs and services that AMPA offers. You will need to do so in a manner consistent with the mission and goals of AMPA and under the direction of a Board of Directors. You will also need to respond to the changing needs of your membership, while fulfilling obligations to sponsors and funders. 

Read the full job description and qualifications

Monday, July 11, 2011

Automating Editorial with Kapost

An Online System for Content Production
I recently read an article in Folio about automating the editorial workflow with a service called Kapost. Kapost claims to "handle the entire content production process: from pitch to payment and everything in between. Enable your editorial team to focus on audience and content, not administrative tasks." This intrigued me. Having worked as a magazine editor, and now as a freelance editor and writer, I was curious how such a system would work.

Addressing a Complex Editorial Process
Basically, the whole production workflow occurs online; writers pitch and submit stories online while editors assign and publish. It appears like a simple linear process. But, as we all know, the editorial process is rarely simple or linear. I'm not sure that Kapost accounts for the many occasions where a story is submitted late, changes direction or is hung up in editing; it doesn't seem to show what draft a story might be at or who is doing the editing. This is often where I find that things get bumpy.

The Kapost system also gives an overview of what stories have been pitched and assigned along with payment information. This might work if you get a significant number of strong pitches from which your content is derived, but most editors I know only use a small percentage of ideas that are pitched to them. More often, the story ideas are generated internally or the stories are variations of pitched ideas. I didn't see where such an exchange would occur with Kapost. It seems an editor would still have to get in touch with the writer to rework an idea before assigning, plus you'd then have to go into Kapost to update what's there, which would actually add an administrative task instead of reducing them.

Editorial is Creative in Nature
The idea of automating editorial is a nice one, but the very nature of editorial is creative, which means that it rarely lends itself to a streamlined process. There are always hiccups to address, which is what many editors find themselves attending to as much as to the hands-on duties of assigning and editing.

I'm thinking that a publisher who is trying to tighten purse strings is unlikely to spend money on a workflow service that can be accomplished with an excel spreadsheet and an editorial team that communicates well (a skill most good editors possess).

The Final Verdict on Kapost
So, I'm unconvinced that Kapost could really automate workflow effectively, but such a service could spur staffers to review their processes and see how things can be improved. That is never a bad thing.

--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Future of Digital Publishing (Part Two)

For this second and final post summarizing AMPA’s recent “Publishing in the Digital Age” luncheon, I wanted to focus a bit more on the insight that Evan Hansen provided about the success of the Wired brand.

Website Fully Independent From Magazine
From the outside it’s not always evident that the digital side of is fully editorially independent from the Wired magazine staff. The digital staff does not consult the magazine’s editorial team about their daily content (although they do interact and share information). The 43 full-time freelancers employed by publish up to 40 original articles daily; this means that the website has a pace and an attitude more like that of a daily newspaper (short articles, short deadlines) than that of their magazine counterpart.

Adapt the Brand for Different Digital Platforms
This is the key to the Wired brand’s success: their focus is on brand development, and adapting this brand to each unique communication channel and digital platform. “Each platform requires a very tailored approach. The medium is the message” says Hansen. For this meant investing heavily in original daily news-reporting, breaking news and investigative journalism. 

Revenues from Digital Side
It’s evident that this focus on the digital side of the brand is working: digital revenues from account for 40% of the Wired brand (including the magazine), representing a shift towards a “Digital 51” moment when 51% of the company’s revenues will be coming from the digital side. Wired magazine is incredibly successful as a print publication and with their new app, yet on the web the magazine’s digital edition accounts for less than 5% of web traffic. If the magazine was all Wired did, the brand would be a dismal failure. 

Don't Act Like a Magazine, Act Like a Website
It was Hansen’s last piece of advice that best summarized the theme of his overall presentation: “Recast your brand for the web. The web is the web. If you want to succeed, don't act like a magazine, act like a web site.”
---Rebecca Lesser
AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator