A familiar blue and white masthead will no longer grace local newsstands. Muskoka Magazine and its sister paper, What’s Up Muskoka, have ceased production after their parent company PostMedia deemed them unprofitable.
“These (decisions) aren’t arrived at without careful consideration,” said Phylisse Gelfand, Vice President, Communications at Postmedia. “They were both relatively low circulation publications, freely distributed locally, and they were expensive to produce. They weren’t profitable and we had to make the decision to shut them down.”
Eleven full-time and 15 part-time employees were affected by the closure, along with numerous freelance writers and photographers who contributed to both publications.
Founding publisher of Muskoka Magazine and What’s Up Muskoka, Don Smith, was saddened by the news.
“I heard from someone in the community who happened to go by the office and saw a sign on the door. I feel quite sad for the staff. They had carried on with many of the traditions that we had started when I began both Muskoka Magazine and What’s Up Muskoka,” said Smith. “They worked very hard at continuing that legacy and building in the community.”
I felt both publications filled a niche in the community and a lot of people looked to them who will no longer have that service. I think that’s particularly sad, too. You need competitive viewpoints in the community, you need to have different perspectives. I may not always agree and I didn’t always agree with what even my own staff wrote, but that’s what the exchange of good ideas is about. I’m disappointed that’s no longer available to the community.
Don Smith, founding publisher of Muskoka Magazine and What’s Up Muskoka
When asked his opinion about the dynamics of small community publications being owned by large corporations, Smith said, “I think that there has to be a real connection at all levels between a publishing organization and the communities that they serve. Particularly on a smaller community level, these corporations need to recognize the importance of being hyperlocal and connected to the community. You will find a number of mediums and publishers that are starting up – Doppler is an example of that – but there are also those in radio like Hunters Bay Radio, and a number of independent print publishers as well. Larger corporations sometimes have a little different mandate. They do bring certain benefits to smaller organizations but when they lose that connection to the community, that’s a problem – centralized production and administration and other services removes that connection to the community.”
Muskoka Magazine was launched by Smith in 2000 and purchased by Osprey Media in 2005. In 2007 Sun Media, a subsidiary of Quebecor Media, acquired Osprey Media. Then in 2014 Quebecor announced the sale of Sun Media to Postmedia, a deal that required approval by the Competition Bureau and ultimately closed in April 2015.