Western Standard

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Friday, October 05, 2007

150 million pages of fighting the good fight

To my deep regret, the Western Standard has decided to stop publishing our print edition.

It's a purely financial decision. Even though our advertising revenues were stronger than ever, with marquee brands like GM, Mazda, BMW and Air Canada filling our pages, and even though we had the most loyal subscribers in the business, with an unheard-of 80% renewal rate, we just weren't close enough to profit.

I offer my thanks to our amazing staff, our loyal investors, and our enthusiastic subscribers, all of whom showed great faith in our project. Our online presence will continue for now in the form of this blog at least; when I spoke recently with our senior columnist, Mark Steyn, about our financial difficulties, he suggested ramping the website up into a Canadian version of Townhall or a conservative version of the Huffington Post. It's an idea worth considering.

We were unable to generate a financial rate of return, but we had an enormous moral rate of return. From our very first edition, back in March of 2004, we had a disproportionately large impact on the national discussion. It's tough to pick favourites out of the 82 editions that we published, but some of the highlights for me were our investigative report into Power Corp. and its political influence; the Libranos edition; and, of course, our publication of the Danish cartoons, and our follow-up issue on the same subject. Even our blog had great moments, including when we leaked the Liberal Red Book in the last election.

The common thread to all of those stories was our editorial independence. No magazine owned by a corporate colossus could do such digging on the Desmarais family without a friendly phone call, CEO to CEO, to call off the story -- as happened to the Montreal Gazette. And no magazine -- or TV station, or newspaper -- felt able to publish the Danish cartoons, either. Whether they were smothered by general corporate caution, or ideological correctness, it fell to a little magazine in Calgary to take the risk. I hope that the fact that we neither suffered physical nor financial harm for doing so serves as encouragement to other media in the future to resist radical Muslim calls for censorship. One of the only stories I wrote for the magazine was our rationale for publishing those cartoons. It can be found here, and the human rights commission's attack against us, and my response, can be seen here.

Speaking of that human rights attack, the official "investigation" is scheduled to commence against us next month. I spoke with our lawyers today, and there ought to be no reason why we still cannot fight the complaint against us -- and the commission's grotesque assertion that they even have jurisdiction over a magazine. I only regret that we will not be able to cover every proceeding of that kangaroo court in our print magazine.

I am proud of the team we assembled, ranging from seasoned pro's like Ted Byfield to the next generation of voices like Colby Cosh. Alumni of our magazine, including our former interns, are working at some of the most influential media in the country. What was so touching to me was that even our staff who worked in the non-editorial departments of our magazine looked at us as a mission, and loved our project as much more than just a job. I don't propose to name everyone, but I would like to single out Lyle Dunkley, our chairman, chief investor and greatest booster; Joe Nadler, a passionate and dear supporter; and Matthew Johnston, my co-pilot throughout the whole adventure.

Over the course of those 82 issues we printed 150 million pages of great conservative news and views, plus 40 million page views on our website, plus hundreds of hours on our various radio shows. We were also truly national -- with 20% of our readers in Ontario, and 19% in B.C. Those are impressive numbers, but it was the independent, tell-it-like-it-is quality that I'll remember.

Thank you to our entire extended family -- staff, subscribers and investors -- for an amazing project, the effects of which will continue to echo for years to come.

Ezra Levant, Publisher

Posted by Ezra Levant on October 5, 2007 | Permalink

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» Bye bye conservatives from the darkerside to rants
Oh, what sad news I just found, it seems The Western Standard is no more. I remember when I bought a copy back in 2004, my so far one and only one. I bought it just after I had moved to Edmonton and decided to figure out what this ... [Read More]

Tracked on 2007-10-05 6:29:01 PM

» Bye byeconservatives from Snowrunner's Observations
Oh, what sad news I just found, it seems The Western Standard is no more. I remember when I bought a copy back in 2004, my so far one and only one. I bought it just after I had moved to Edmonton and decided to figure out what this ... [Read More]

Tracked on 2007-10-06 11:05:32 AM

» Requiescat in Pacem, Western Standard from Pros and Cons
This is depressing, though not unexpected. ... [Read More]

Tracked on 2007-10-15 9:02:36 AM

Comments

Very sorry to hear this. But a Canadian version of Townhall is an excellent idea. Best of luck to everybody at the Standard.

Posted by: GDW | 2007-10-05 5:05:37 PM


Ditto, Ezra.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-05 5:07:47 PM


Tis a sad Day...reminds me of the Alberta Report too...hope some phoenix will rise from the ashes like the Western Standard! Best of luck anyway Ezra and hope to see you again soon.

Posted by: Sean Whelan | 2007-10-05 5:11:22 PM


This is a sad day.

Please get back into politics, Ezra, we need folks like you serving the country.

Posted by: JohnSC | 2007-10-05 5:14:02 PM


It is truly sad to learn that you have decided to stop publishing your print edition.

Kudos for venturing into an extremely difficult market and daring to challenge.

Best wishes going forward to you and all of the people who worked with you.

Posted by: calgary clipper | 2007-10-05 5:14:27 PM


Good suggestion for Townhall.

In our world, it is very hard to do what you do. Thanks for the effort. I shall pray that a miracle happens and someone finds a way to do it again maybe with means.

Posted by: Rémi Houle | 2007-10-05 5:14:33 PM


am really sorry to hear this - who will tell it like it is now ? - have enjoyed every issue, and hope that some form of it may continue - thank you Ezra, for this brave and noble effort

TS
Edmonton

Posted by: Tony | 2007-10-05 5:17:03 PM


Sad news indeed. Can't wait to see what those who claim to defend diversity in media will say.

Posted by: Joan Tintor | 2007-10-05 5:25:57 PM


Will certainly miss the mag--have been a subscriber from the beginning--developing the "townhall concept" or a news aggregator to counter what I see as National Newswatch's love affair with the left would be fabulous. Best of luck--thaks for reading my book Ezra.

Tom Olson

Posted by: Tom Olson | 2007-10-05 5:28:08 PM


This can't be true

Posted by: Winston | 2007-10-05 5:35:09 PM


And what happens to the outstanding issues that subscribers have paid for?

Posted by: John Luft | 2007-10-05 5:50:30 PM


I started reading the Edmonton Report, and have been a steady reader thru all the reincarnations of this. Sad to see you go, but I am sure you will find a way to keep us informed. Too bad you couldn't hold on until Dec, to publish a photo of PMSH with a majority govt.
Have all the nominations been completed in
Calgary been completed. Get back into politics, you would be great as an MP.

Posted by: MaryT | 2007-10-05 5:51:01 PM


This is a real tragedy. I hope some other voice for the right emerges and is successful.

Posted by: EclectEcon | 2007-10-05 5:54:08 PM


Actually, good riddance. A voiced of reason, you were not.

Posted by: Ted | 2007-10-05 6:05:02 PM



I can't believe that now we will only have the left wing commie pinko magazine that purports to be Canada's National Magazine.

What's happening to the silent majority? Up on the balls of your feet people. We need to fight the apathy of the right.

Posted by: Betty Morgan | 2007-10-05 6:09:20 PM


This is a real loss for conservatives like myself. There are few publications I read from cover to cover as soon as they arrive, but WS was one of them. My wife could hardly wait for me to finish it. There is no publication as bold, fearless and right on the mark that I know of. Thanks Ezra, Mark, David, Ted and the rest of the team!
We'll miss you. Keep blogging, though.

Posted by: Herman | 2007-10-05 6:09:48 PM


Very sad day.
Please keep blogging, I always like sharing stuff that you guys talk about !

Posted by: Pissinginthetent.com | 2007-10-05 6:15:50 PM


Now that's really shitty.

And all we are left with now are leftist yellow-journal rags that are unbecoming the base of a kitty litter box.

Posted by: Lady | 2007-10-05 6:19:44 PM


I knew I should have renewed my subscription a few years back.

Sorry to hear about this but maybe a new internet format would be better. More people could be reached that way.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2007-10-05 6:24:36 PM


Ezra - can't wait to see what you do next! Loved the magazine, staff and the energy you all contributed to the right wing cause. Cheers and Thanks! Katie

Posted by: Katie W. Robinette | 2007-10-05 6:40:55 PM


This morning the good news was the dollar hitting a 30+ year high and unemployment a 30+ year low.

And now this terrible news, that Canada's only conservative magazine will stop publishing.

Thanks for the memories Ezra. Hopefully there will only be a short wait before a new conservative mag springs forth, following in the giant footsteps of Alberta Report and Western Standard. My naming suggestion: The Canadian Conservative (based in Calgary, of course).

Posted by: JP | 2007-10-05 6:53:13 PM


I have a 15 year old nephew who is (was) a loyal subscriber of the Standard. He and his friends used each issue to hassle their Socialist Studies teachers. After 'America Alone' was published he beetled in to buy Mark Steyn's book, which he learned of through your magazine. The boys'll be disappointed to hear the news. I am too. Best wishes.

Posted by: Alice | 2007-10-05 7:08:01 PM


Thank you, Ezra, for providing Canadians with a voice of reason in a sea of socialist mush.

Posted by: Brian Smith | 2007-10-05 7:11:22 PM


I am very sorry to hear this news. I hope, and trust, you will be back either on line or in print, with another Conservative publication. Please keep us all informed.

Posted by: Frank Hilliard | 2007-10-05 7:11:30 PM


One of the first "big deal" things I ever knew (i.e. learned as a kid in grade school) was about Alberta, the Calgary Stampede. Then more recently I learned another "big deal" thing about Alberta, the Western Standard.

I'm interested in your future.

Posted by: Conrad-USA | 2007-10-05 7:21:42 PM


Thanks Ezra, and crew, for sticking it out in the face of a continuous vicious gale from those who let media empires situated near Yonge Street speak for them.

All of you tried, and no one, as well as nothing can take that away from all of you.

Posted by: David W. Lincoln | 2007-10-05 7:24:55 PM


I was reading in ElPais.com that FoxNews was trying to start a Spanish outlet in Argentina.

Is itr possible they might be interested in a Canadian outlet?

Posted by: Rémi Houle | 2007-10-05 7:33:12 PM


Yes, sad indeed. For you from a financial point and for all the readers who will have lost the only Canadian source of news reporting as opposed to left propaganda.

Can anyone provide the web site for the Canadian Townhall? I am aware of the American one (which is excellent by the way) but a Canadian context with Canadian issues would be even better.

I hope this blog will continue.

Posted by: Alain | 2007-10-05 7:38:01 PM


I loved the magazine but I am pissed off that another 3 year subscription was just accepted.

Posted by: TM | 2007-10-05 7:46:06 PM


As with most young Canadian, I am considerably to the left of the Western Standard on many issues. I do not, however, identify myself with some general left wing ideology. It is very important to me to have free thinking resources like the western standard as an antidote to herd mindedness.

I have been a loyal reader for many years, and I am very sorry to see it go.

Posted by: Timothy Zak | 2007-10-05 7:58:33 PM


Very sorry to hear that our favourite magazine will cease publication. Every issue was read from cover to cover and shared with others. I'm also sorry that a new sub was processed very recently.

Best wishes for your future endeavors.

Posted by: Gary Coulter | 2007-10-05 8:20:58 PM


My first reaction to the first issue may also be why the venture has failed. Should have called it "The Standard". adding "Western" to the title shut out over 60% of the potential readership.

Posted by: Gord Tulk | 2007-10-05 8:32:03 PM


What a shame. Don't worry about the balance of my subscription - even truncated it was great value. I enjoyed every issue. I hope you can keep a presence on the web - a Canadian version of Town Hall is just what we need. Hey - what about a Canada Council grant to keep publishing? Well...maybe not.

Posted by: Stewart | 2007-10-05 8:43:09 PM


Oh well. I guess I'll have to start buying toilet paper again...so sad.

Posted by: archaic | 2007-10-05 8:43:58 PM


archaic,

I bet you write on bathroom walls too.

Posted by: TM | 2007-10-05 8:50:33 PM


So long you little pissant. You can stop embarassing yourself.

Posted by: aa | 2007-10-05 8:59:40 PM


My last issue will be bound in a gold lace shroud! How else to piss off a do nothing dipper!

Bravo to the end!

Posted by: Fred Oliver | 2007-10-05 9:25:17 PM


aa

Wow, such venom. How can I be angry at you. I feel sorry for you. You have to live with yourself.

Posted by: TM | 2007-10-05 9:27:40 PM


No, Fox News has zero interest in Canada. I have that on extremely good authority.

Posted by: Leigh Davis | 2007-10-05 9:28:39 PM


An unfortunate turn with the cessation of the publication of the Western Standard magazine.

Personally I felt uneasy when Professor Pierre Lemieux was cut.
The fiery Libertarian voice, was for me, worth the subscription price alone,not to mention David Warren, Mark Steyn, Terry O'Neil and all the rest of fine journalists.
Blogs fall short of hard copy assembled in magazine form by the country's best conservative voices.
Truly not a happy day for conservative Canadians.

Posted by: Joe Molnar | 2007-10-05 9:29:48 PM


Delivery of my WS was spotty until it stopped for good after they took their 2 week break in July. Well, now I know why.

Posted by: Colin | 2007-10-05 9:36:33 PM


Sad to hear this. I first heard you on the Rutherford Show about 16-17 years ago. Because of you and Mr.Ted Byfield I have turned into a political junkie. All the the best Ezra.

Posted by: Rod | 2007-10-05 9:39:12 PM


What about current subscribers? Do we get our money back?

Posted by: Werner Patels | 2007-10-05 9:53:17 PM


Uncanny, the only political magazine worth anything and it's no more. Ezra, I want to see you in parliament. Go for it. We need a voice of reason.

Posted by: Cynic | 2007-10-05 10:05:30 PM


I am sorry to hear you have to stop publishing. Thank you for all of the good effort. I have enjoyed my subscription. One thing I appreciated is that you allowed Christian perspectives to be fairly presented, unlike most other Canadian media outlets.
Thank you Ezra and team,
Tim

Posted by: timmyz | 2007-10-05 10:19:21 PM


What great news. WS was more than "right-wing", it was a distortion of the truth. You know it, I know it. If publishing the Danish cartoons are your high point, is it any wonder you are going out of business? Yeah you would (will) make an outstanding MP.

Posted by: chris | 2007-10-05 10:21:26 PM


Buck up, chum, you'll always have the mail route.

Posted by: Jeremy | 2007-10-05 10:33:48 PM


You fought the good fight against impossible odds. A lefty publisher would be ranting for a government bailout, but you have dignity. I'll miss the print edition greatly, though. I guess Canada simply lacks the big-money benefactors that keep National Review going down south...not to mention the critical mass of smart conservative readers.

Posted by: Neil Flagg | 2007-10-05 10:40:11 PM


I can't tell you how sorry we are to lose the best magazine in Canada. I was so proud of you over the Danish cartoons. It was a magazine we generally read from cover to cover--starting with the back cover of course! Mark Steyn was always a treat. Is there nothing to be done?

Posted by: sylvia | 2007-10-05 11:24:50 PM


How can you leave when we need someone to tell Alberta and the rest of the country the truth about the royalty review? Or is the coming depression the reason you are pulling the plug?

Posted by: lincoln | 2007-10-05 11:29:04 PM


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