Left-wing pubs alive and well

The left-wing press in Canada is small and fragmented, its readership predictable.The same could be said for its advertising, with revenue coming mainly from unions, social organizations and sympathetic special interest groups.Consumer advertising, the stuff found in the mainstream press, is...

The left-wing press in Canada is small and fragmented, its readership predictable.

The same could be said for its advertising, with revenue coming mainly from unions, social organizations and sympathetic special interest groups.

Consumer advertising, the stuff found in the mainstream press, is absent and generally not missed by the left-of-centre publications.

Nevertheless, Our Times, a Toronto-based labor magazine with 7,000 readers an issue, is taking steps to expand its narrow ad base even if it is not after retail advertising.

Government

Mike Edwards, circulation and advertising manager at Our Times, says he has started to approach various levels of government for advertising formally and through personal contacts.

And, Edwards says he is using Our Times Canadian Auto Workers ads for its Family Education and Conference Centre in Port Elgin, Ont. – a four-color first – as a selling tool for other advertising prospects.

‘This kind of press needs to be more vibrant than ever [to take on conservative governments,]‘ Edwards says.

Out on the Prairies, where so much of Canada’s democratic socialism began, in one of the oldest left-wing magazines in the country, Canadian Dimension, in Winnipeg, advertising is not a major factor.

Paul Graham, managing editor of Canadian Dimension, says his eight-times-a-year magazine has two or three pages of advertising in each issue of about 40 pages.

Founded in 1963, Canadian Dimension publishes 4,000 copies an issue.

Graham says its advertising comes primarily from publishers promoting their books in such fields as history, politics, economics, feminism and the environment.

He says other advertising comes from large, high-profile unions such as the Canadian Union of Postal Employees, the caw and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

He says overall, for the past two years, advertising is up ‘a wee bit,’ adding the country’s lengthy recession really has not had much of a negative impact on his magazine.

Graham readily admits his publication is run on a shoestring budget of low overhead, volunteer labor and editorial copy submitted without charge.

He says Canadian Dimension prefers to build the strength of the magazine through subscriptions, and rely on fundraisers to stay in business.

Two salespeople

Gord Laird, advertising co-ordinator at This Magazine, which has such names as playwright and critic Rick Salutin and novelist Carole Corbeil on its masthead, says the publication has two people selling advertising.

Laird describes the advertising fortunes at This Magazine as ‘up and down,’ and predicts slow growth for its ad base.

He says that like Our Times and Canadian Dimension, This Magazine sells advertising in the usual places: unions, ‘progressive groups’ and sometimes to such organizations as Canadian University Students Overseas.