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

I'd been wondering why I wasn't receiving any magazines. Don't worry about the balance of the subscription, I'm very sorry you couldn't make a go of it. I'd be willing to pay double the subscription if it would enable the print form to remain. The Western Standard was about the last voice of reason available in Canada. I can't help but feel like a member of my family has died. Good luck in whatever all of you do next. I will miss each and every contributor, you were all my faves!

Posted by: Cliff Sieben | 2007-11-19 11:18:47 AM


Very sorry to hear about the WS's demise. I too would pay double for a subscription in order to be able to read non-left-edited media. It is truly a sad state of affairs in Canada that we have only a choice between CBC & Bell/CTV for media news and Bell/CTV owned newspapers for print. We need a FOX Canada news channel!!

Posted by: Steve | 2007-11-23 6:32:56 AM


Sorry to hear this news as I tried to subscribe. By the way I did so on your website as late as yesterday, Dec.12. I suggest you cancel this opportunity as its existence implies the magazine is still being published. It takes some time to fill in the subscription form and then an error message appears written in a way that implies the trouble is with the credit card.. Thank you, Dorothy

Posted by: Dorothy Kaytor | 2007-12-11 6:03:39 PM


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