Canadian edition of Reader’s Digest magazine to cease activities next spring

Canadian edition of Reader’s Digest magazine to cease activities next spring

Canadian edition of Reader’s Digest magazine to cease activities next spring

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The media crisis has claimed another victim in Reader’s Digest magazine. The news was announced Tuesday to employees of the publication’s French and English Canadian editions.

The news was first reported by the Globe and Mail, which listened to part of the meeting. A source who was not authorized to speak to media confirmed to Presse Canadienne that this announcement also affects the French-language publication Sélection and its employees.

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During a meeting with employees, the magazine’s owner evoked declining advertising revenues, increasing production costs and changing reading habits as reasons for the decision.

In Montreal, 10 employees received notice in November that they will be laid off effective Jan. 1, according to the layoff notices sent to the ministry of employment and social solidarity.

For many people, Reader’s Digest and Sélection evoke memories of a pile of magazines in home bathrooms, or an enjoyable read in a waiting room. The magazine was read for its profiles, practical articles and its testimonials. In the industry, the publication was known for its rigorous fact-checking process.

With the end of Reader’s Digest, the media landscape loses a “humanistic” voice, according to André Lavoie, who freelanced for Sélection.

Before first collaborating in 2016, the journalist admitted he thought of the publication nostalgically, as belonging to another era. After working for the magazine, he observed there’s “nothing anachronistic” about its mission.

He pointed to the list of people he met during the course of the approximately 60 profiles he wrote, of Quebecers who made their mark in different spheres of society.

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“It dealt with subjects that interest me,” he said, “engaged people, people who wanted to make the world a better place.”

The closing of a magazine is always bad news for freelance journalists who work for it, said Léa Villalba, president of the board of directors of the Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec (AJIQ).

“Magazines and specialized publications are our main revenue source.”

Reader’s Digest had the reputation of offering good rates, she added. Many independent journalists — of which her association counts about 100 — have had to contend with stagnant rates offered by their clients for years.

It was not possible to obtain an immediate reaction from the American publisher of Reader’s Digest, Trusted Media Brands.

In 2021, revenues of the Canadian magazine publishing industry had diminished by half, compared to 2013, according to Statistics Canada data published in January. Nothing suggests the trend has reversed since then.

Several iconic print brands from Quebec and Canada are under pressure. For example, the Quebec edition of Châtelaine magazine announced in March it would switch from publishing six times per year to four.

Like many members of the industry, Lavoie blames the competition between the internet giants for advertising revenue. Beyond this economic analysis, he’s worried about the effect these technologies have on people’s reading habits.

“This crisis is caused by our disinterest in reading,” he said. “If people read more and put down their screens, they would find all kinds of other things. It would allow many publications to survive. People might spend more time reading than playing with their phone.”

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