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Editorial Practices for Small to Mid-Size Magazines by Sheila Sampath

By Sheila Sampath, Editorial and Art Director, Shameless Magazine

Editorial practices are a combination of professional, interpersonal and political structures set up to help guide decision making and workflow through the production process. From conceptualizing an issue to executing it, these considerations will help articulate and inform the why, what and how of your work.

The Political: Defining editorial scope (or: WHY do we publish?)

1. Articulate a clear mandate.

Regardless of whether you’re working on a new or established publication, taking the time to articulate (or gain deep understanding of) your magazine’s mandate is foundational to creating frameworks for transparent and accountable decision-making. What role does your publication play in a genre, industry or demographic? Are there existing mission, vision or philosophy statements? If so, how do you understand them, or how can you and your existing editorial staff elaborate on or reinterpret them? A staff (and board, if applicable) discussion can be facilitated internally or with the help of an external facilitator.

2. Decide to whom you’re accountable

Negotiating accountability in publishing can be a challenging task, but it’s helpful to, at the very least, build off of your mandate and map out who you are publishing for. What is your funding structure and what expectations come from those revenue sources? Who is your readership and what role do you want to play in their lives? If these two groups aren’t the same, or have conflicting agendas, how do you intend to resolve those tensions?

3. Prioritize voices that matter

Working from your mandate and thinking around accountability, ask yourself, whose voices do we need to centre? Are those voices currently represented in leadership roles at our publication? And, what practices and policies do we need to implement to reflect that vision? Understand that outreach to new communities of writers and editors is an ongoing process of trust and relationship-building.

The Professional: Ensuring clear workflow and quality (or: WHAT do we do?)

1. Define roles and responsibilities

In small- to mid-size publications, staffs tend to wear many hats. Whether your publication is in its infancy or is more established, it’s helpful to schedule semi-regular audits to make sure people are being recognized for their contributions and to see if there are better ways of structuring power or redistributing labour. When job expectations are clearly defined, people know when to ask for support, where to focus their time and energy and how to relate to their coworkers.

2. Map an editorial process and calendar

Defining the phases of a production cycle is particularly important for both staff and contributors to your publication. Here are some questions to consider:

  • How are issues conceptualized? Who is a part of this process?
  • What processes are in place to outreach to writers or respond to pitches?
  • How will you determine if a writer is a good fit for a story (and how does this relate to how you’ve defined your editorial scope)?
  • How do you want your process with writers to look? For example, do you expect an outline, first, second and final drafts? Is it an ongoing conversation between the editor and the writer? What are the deadlines that you want writers to follow and what deadlines can you guarantee you’ll follow as well?
  • Once a piece is filed, what is your process of copy-editing, fact-checking and proofreading? If there are major issues or changes late in the game, how will those be communicated to the writer?
  • As pieces move through layout and art assignments, if applicable, how will your editorial scope apply as your art director works with photographers and/or illustrators?
  • When can contributors expect payment? How will you notify them when their work is published?
  • What overlap will exist between issues?
  • How can you build in space for contingencies in your editorial calendar?

As you map out this process think of how you want to communicate it to your team and what ongoing communication looks like for your organization. Note: there are many free or inexpensive online systems that can support managing this process once it’s mapped out (e.g. Google calendars,, Slack, etc.).

3. Build in spaces for flexibility—ask people what they need to do their jobs well

While it’s helpful to have a clearly articulated editorial process and calendar, a part of working well with people of diverse backgrounds means building in spaces for flexibility. For example, a writer submitting a personal piece on a traumatic life event may realize the editorial process is taking an emotional toll on their wellbeing; an interview subject may be facing a challenging personal situation and be unavailable for an immediate interview, etc. In these cases, it is helpful to go back to your editorial scope, particularly what it means to be accountable and to centre specific voices and to ask people what they need to be able to file on time. The more you’re able to keep communication open and problem-solve with the people you’re working with, the smoother the process (and the working relationship) will be.

The Personal: Defining ways of working (or: HOW do we work?)

1. Position yourself within your mandate

For us to be able to go deeper into the editorial process—that is, to not just define what happens when, but how that work happens, we need to be able to unpack our relationship to our mandate, our readership and our contributors. Do you identify as being a part of your readership? What communities and identities do you represent and are those the voices that you are aiming to centre? Answering these questions can help you articulate the nuances of your role (for example, editor-as-facilitator vs. editor-as-expert; publisher-as-ally vs. publisher-as-representative, etc.). Your relationship to your mandate and readership might change over time, so it’s helpful to think of this as an ongoing and iterative process of self-reflection.

2. Practice care in your work

Often we inherit ways of working from spaces and experiences that are inequitable or contribute to erasure or harm (e.g. unpaid internships, J-school, etc.). There is nothing that is stopping us from reimagining our relationships with the people we work with through a framework of care and respect. Ask yourself, How can I implement a strong editorial vision, adhere to the challenges of a deadline-driven environment and foster care for my co-workers and contributors, so they can produce their best work and be their best selves, along the way? What learning and unlearning needs to happen to create a new kind of work environment?

3. Think of editorial process as a form of relationship/community building

Very few publications exist just to publish—often, we are trying to connect readership to knowledge, connect the public to new ideas or connect communities to each other. As editors and publishers, we are conduits for these relationships and so relationship-building is always a central part of what we do. Keep this in mind as you continue to define how your work happens.

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage  Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Creates / Ontario Créatif


The Quick and Dirty on Demystifying the Slush Pile by Chelene Knight

By Chelene Knight, managing editor at Room magazine, CEO of #LearnWritingEssentials, author of Dear Current Occupant

The Mystery of the Slush Pile

Photograph of Chelene Knight
Chelene Knight

What is a slush pile? The definition changes from person to person, from magazine to magazine, and from publisher to publisher. To most, the slush pile is the towering stack of submissions that were not selected to be published at first read-through. The emergence of online submission managers such as Submittable, has turned this tangible tower into an out of sight, out of mind virtual filing cabinet.

To others, slush can mean “any unsolicited submission,” but for literary magazines, (aside from the commissioned pieces) wouldn’t that mean that all submissions are unsolicited? Now that so many literary magazines have shifted to online submission managers, there is no real slush pile; instead there are a series of processes in place to sort where a submission “lives” while it’s not currently being read, edited or considered. Although having the option to submit your work online has it conveniences, the influx of submissions has increased substantially.

The practices and procedures for reading submissions will differ depending on the magazine, their staffing and volunteer levels and a few other key factors, but the idea is the same: to log and track all incoming submissions and to have readers read and rank EVERYTHING (this is what takes so long).

So then…your gorgeous short story, essay or poem is already labelled slush, before you even hit send. So yes, let’s demystify the slush pile because slush piles can harbour gold, too.

Timing & Submission Deadlines

If a call opens on November 1 and closes on January 31, is there a best time to submit? The truth is, it does not matter. As long as your submission falls within those deadlines, you are fine. What so many folks do not know (and this is especially true for quarterly magazines) is that when the call is open, the submissions generally aren’t read until the call closes. What does this mean? If you submit your piece on November 1, chances are it will not be looked at until at least the end of January. The reason for this is that with quarterly magazines, editors and editorial teams are working on four issues at once, with all of them at different stages of production.


Second editor forwards:
If your piece makes it to the editor and that editor likes your piece but cannot use it, they will usually forward it to another editor for a subsequent issue (it’s nice when magazines send you an email letting you know, because this basically means your wait time doubles, and it’s important to keep writers updated). Note: this is a process some magazines use, not all.

What you need to remember:

  • Most magazines will have first readers and your submission needs to make it past the reader before it gets to the editor. This is the tricky part because even though you may have researched the editor and have a good understanding in terms of what they like and what they usually publish, your submission might not even make it to them. I know that sounds disheartening, but rest assured, if your work shines, it will get published one way or another.
  • Production time is long. There’s no way around this. A lot goes into putting the issue together and a lot of this work goes above and beyond just reading and selecting pieces. Most issues take one full year with four issues in production at once but all at different stages (this is true for quarterly mags). If anyone has questions about production, please post in slack and I will do my best to include simplified answers.

To Check In or Not to Check In

I think it’s totally acceptable to reach out to a magazine about your submission if you haven’t heard back in six months or longer. But in doing this, be careful with what you are asking for.

Unpaid labour is real. Most literary magazine editorial teams are volunteers or paid small honorariums and do this work before and after their day jobs. Asking a magazine editor to provide you with substantive feedback is not something you should consider doing. You can, however, ask if the rejection was an issue of not having enough space in that specific issue (which is a real thing). Another acceptable ask is if you get an email directly from the editor, you can ask if there were any notes left on your piece that can be passed on. But note, this is rare. Just be polite in your ask and realistic with your expectations and acknowledge the added labour you are asking for.

Summary of Best Practices and Key Takeaways

  • Nowadays the slush pile is a virtual filing cabinet of submissions marked “to be read.”
  • Due to the shift to online submissions, the number of submissions magazines receive has increased substantially.
  • Editorial teams are usually working on more than one issue at once in various phases of production.
  • If one editor does not have space for your piece for whatever reason, they might forward it to the editor of the next issue (or if there’s only one editor, they may hold it for the next issue).
  • There are usually readers who take a first read before deciding to pass it on to the editor.
  • Production can be a long process. There are a lot of steps involved in putting the magazine together:
    • Interviews
    • Organizing art
    • Reading submissions
    • Formatting and graphic design
    • Soliciting ads
    • Backend admin
    • Copyediting
    • Proofreading
    • Theme tie-ins
  • You can check in on your submission, but be sure not to ask for substantive feedback as most editors are volunteers and unpaid labour is always something they are battling.
  • Always send your best. Chances are, if it sings, it will find a home.

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage  Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Creates / Ontario Créatif


Clean Up Your Copy: 10 Common Spelling and Grammar Errors by Jaclyn Law

By Jaclyn Law, Freelance Writer and Editor

We know what you’re thinking: “A Hotsheet on spelling and grammar mistakes? Isn’t that what spell-checkers are for?”

Yes, but spelling and grammar checkers have limitations. For one thing, they don’t check word usage. They might not alert you if you use the wrong word but it’s correctly spelled or if you type in a homophone (a sound-alike word, such as pour instead of pore). They often fail to notice missing words and punctuation problems. Spell-checkers set to autocorrect may pick the wrong words or change correctly spelled words that they don’t recognize, such as words from other languages. Grammar checkers often misdiagnose complex sentences.

We’ll give you just one example of why proofreading is essential. This sentence got a clean bill of health from a word processor’s spell-checker: Tizzy beta too halve) gloved und list’ then”, nerve/ too half loafed aa tall. (Apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson.) There’s just no substitute for careful reading by human eyes.

Below is a list of errors that copy editors encounter all the time. It will help you create cleaner, clearer and more authoritative copy, whether you’re writing a magazine article, a blog post, a sales campaign or an email.

Common Copy Errors

1. its or it’s

People often mix these up. Use its to indicate possession: The shop has changed its hours. Use it’s when you mean it is: It’s nice to meet you. How to remember the difference? It’s is a contraction (two words combined in a shorter form); the apostrophe replaces the letter i in is. Try plugging it is (or it has) into your sentence. If it doesn’t sound right, use its.

2. they’re, their, there

These homophones are a triple threat, but the first two have narrow uses. They’re is a contraction of they are: They’re outside. Their is a possessive pronoun: I like their outfits.

For other situations, you likely want there.

  • As an adverb or a noun, there refers to a place or position: I worked there for years or I went over there.
  • As a pronoun, there introduces the subject of a sentence: There was a cat on the roof.
  • As an interjection, there expresses satisfaction or sympathy: There, it’s done and There, there, don’t cry.

It may help you to remember that there contains here, and both words refer to places.

3. your or you’re

Your is a possessive pronoun: Your keys are upstairs. You’re is a contraction of you are: You’re a good listener.

4. Shifting verb tenses

In each independent clause, keep your verb tenses consistent. For example, this clause mixes present and past tenses: Ben waves and drove away. It’s better to use only one tense: Ben waves and drives away or Ben waved and drove away.

5. Lack of subject-verb agreement

Singular subjects take singular verbs: Amy is. Plural subjects take plural verbs: Amy and Alex are. You might make a mistake if you’re not sure whether the subject of a sentence is singular or plural. Which is correct: The range of colours is amazing or The range of colours are amazing? Range is the subject, and it’s singular, so the correct verb choice is is. (The word of is often a clue; look for the subject in front of it.)

If you have two singular subjects with or, neither/nor or either/or, use a singular verb. For example, this sentence uses the singular verb has: Either Jing or Shan has the book.

In a similar sentence that has both singular and plural subjects, the verb agrees with the closest subject: Neither the dresses nor the parka fits in the closet or Neither the parka nor the dresses fit in the closet. However, not every grammar authority endorses this solution. Some authorities advise writers to provide a verb for each subject: The dresses do not fit in the closet, and neither does the parka.

There are exceptions. Watch for these common ones:

  • Collective nouns take a singular verb when the members of the group act as a single unit: The committee has called a meeting. Collective nouns take a plural verb when the members of the group act as individuals: The committee have been debating for hours.
  • Some pronouns—some, all, more, none—take singular or plural verbs. The verb form depends on the noun that the pronoun refers to. Examples: Some of the food has spoiled and Some of the bananas are mushy.
  • When treating time, distance or money as a single unit, use a singular verb: Five million dollars is a lot of money. Ten years is a long time.
  • Some plural words—such as measles, physics and billiards—are treated as singular. For example: Physics is a challenging subject.

6. Joint and separate possession

Joint possession, or compound possession, means that two parties share something. Add an apostrophe and an s to the second name only: Canada and Japan’s trade agreement. Separate possession means two parties each have something, but they don’t share it. Add an apostrophe and an s to both names: Canada’s and Japan’s trade agreements.

7. Comma splices

A comma splice occurs when a comma connects two independent clauses. Sometimes we use comma splices for effect—for example, Julius Caesar’s famous words “I came, I saw, I conquered”—but in general we should avoid them.

This comma splice—I was in a hurry, I forgot my wallet—is an error. To fix it, we could create two sentences: I was in a hurry. I forgot my wallet. We could use a comma and a coordinating conjunction to make a compound sentence: I was in a hurry, and I forgot my wallet. We could replace the comma with a semicolon: I was in a hurry; I forgot my wallet.

Watch out for run-on sentences (two independent clauses with no punctuation between them): I was in a hurry I forgot my wallet.

8. Dangling modifiers

A modifier is a phrase that describes or clarifies something else. If it’s unclear what the modifier refers to, or if it appears to modify the wrong part of a sentence, the modifier is “dangling.”

The results are often confusing or funny. An example: Camping in the woods, the bear startled us. The modifier Camping in the woods is too far from the sentence’s intended subject (the campers), so it looks like the bear was camping. A possible fix: Camping in the woods, we were startled by a bear.

Another example: Born in Singapore, his novel was a bestseller. The modifier Born in Singapore mistakenly refers to his novel. The intended subject, the author, is missing, and his is insufficient. Correction: Kevin Kwan, who was born in Singapore, wrote a bestselling novel.

9. Lack of parallelism

A sentence that features parallelism repeats a grammatical form or word pattern to indicate that two or more ideas are equally important. Parallelism adds clarity and a pleasing flow to your writing.

Here’s an example of a sentence that lacks parallelism. Note how awkwardly the sentence reads: Maya loves swimming, marathons and to climb. We can improve this sentence with consistent verb forms: Maya loves swimming, running marathons and climbing or Maya loves to swim, run marathons and climb.

Here’s another example of a sentence that lacks parallelism: Adam works quickly and finished the project. It’s better if the verb tenses match: Adam worked quickly and finished the project.

Sometimes a sentence that lacks parallelism reads as an interrupted list: The house has leaky pipes, crumbling walls and the heating is faulty. Better: The house has leaky pipes, crumbling walls and faulty heating.

10. Double-spacing after a period

This punctuation habit is a holdover from the era of typewriters. Don’t double space after a period. Period.


These resources can help you learn more about grammar, punctuation and word usage:

Editing Canadian English, 3rd edition (Editors Canada)
The Canadian Press Online Stylebook (Canadian Press)
The Chicago Manual of Style Online (University of Chicago Press)
The Canadian Style (TERMIUM Plus, Government of Canada)

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage  Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Creates / Ontario Créatif


Writing about Indigenous People and Communities: Three Tips to Get it Right by Angela Sterritt

Angela Sterritt
Angela Sterritt

By Angela Sterritt, Journalist and Writer, CBC

I often get asked, what makes an Indigenous story different? And I always say the say the same thing. Nothing.

That might seem counterintuitive when we are often reminded about the sensitivity, needed context and previous gaps in stories on Indigenous people and communities. But it’s about getting it right and that means striving to cover Indigenous stories with the same investigation, rigour, sensitivity, depth and accuracy as any other story.

The difference is the acknowledgement that as an institution, the media has not done a good job covering Indigenous stories in the past. We have left out details, such as how much a family member loves a missing or murdered love one, or been too gratuitous with other details, like spending the most time on who killed her or how she died. In many cases, we have also got facts wrong, talked to too few sources or worse, not covered a story at all.

Trust has been broken with media and now some are trying to build it back up.

I’ve been covering Indigenous stories, not exclusively, but often over the last several years and there are some tips I have picked up along the way—often from making my own mistakes.

1. Don’t rush a sensitive story

For some Indigenous people, in particular survivors of residential schools, the sixties scoop or family members of missing or murdered loved ones, this may be the first time they have shared their story because of a lack of trust in media.

Some may have witnessed or experienced a negative interview or had a story published about them or their community that was not accurate or misrepresentative.

Do let interviewees know about your deadline, the treatment of the story and your direction, but be open minded about how long it may take to gather, especially if it is a sensitive story.

I once expressed my frustration with how long an interview with a survivor was taking to set up and not only did I lose the interview and the story but the contact. It was a big reminder that some stories cannot be rushed. I now make a point of being gentle with time.

That being said, you might need to let your editor or producer know that this story might take more time in the gathering stage.

Also keep in mind this may not be true for everyone. I’ve also had many survivors feel good about sharing and want the story to go out as soon as possible. Others have worked with media before and can help turn a story around in a few hours. Keep in mind, like everyone, Indigenous people do not all have the same experience.

2. Be objective, and mindful of stereotyping

One of the main flaws of the past in writing about Indigenous communities was that they were often presented in an oversimplified way. We saw tropes of Indigenous people as only of the past, only in a cultural lens or bleakly.

We’ve left out important context that helped to understand a community or person or added context when it wasn’t needed.

For example, in an excellent news story about voting in an Indigenous community, two Indigenous youth were featured. It was compelling and powerful. But at one point the reporter questioned the youth about the type of drugs he used growing up—”oxytocin or meth”? It gave the story weight and context about the hurdles this community had overcome, but how often would we ask non-Indigenous people this same question for a story unrelated to drugs and alcohol? Many people of different races have had brushes with and even struggled with addictions but often it’s highlighted in Indigenous stories.

I also had a keen non-Indigenous student recently tell me that he was told by another student not to ask Indigenous people about their community as it may be too traumatizing for them. This is an inaccurate assumption, as for one it infers that all Indigenous people are victims, and for two it suggests we should steer away from difficult stories in Indigenous communities. We should strive for balance in our coverage of Indigenous communities and this means being brave enough to cover the hard stories and knowing the value of doing the lighter, more positive ones.

It’s a lesson about inserting our own bias about Indigenous people, intentionally or inadvertently, into our storytelling. The tip here is to think about what biases or tropes you are bringing to your stories with your own preconceptions about Indigenous people.

Here are some to avoid:

  • The victim narrative: Depicting Indigenous people or a person as collapsing under the burden of history or current realities, or overcoming tragedies that have no root cause.
  • The addict and alcoholic stereotype: Exhibiting a person’s past or current substance abuse when it is unrelated to the story.
  • The warrior trope: Rather than looking at concerns as legitimate political, environmental or socio-economic ones—painting an Indigenous person as a trouble maker, or as irrational, even violent.
  • The greedy/lazy label: Instead of telling a robust story about finances, treaties and lands in Indigenous communities, showcasing a narrow, crude or inaccurate presentation of the issues such as Indigenous people getting free stuff (education and gas are popular errors) or tax breaks.

3. Actually visit an Indigenous community

One of the things I notice more and more is that reporters end up tethered to their desks due to budget cuts or tighter deadlines, so I understand, this is a hard one.

But it’s difficult to actually understand the complexity of a community without going there, talking to people there and seeing the state of the community. For example, many reporters had covered a Stolo community close to Chilliwack, B.C. but without ever going there. Most of the reports focused on one chief who was in support of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and from one perspective. But going there showed me a diverse cross-section of the community: some who were clearly against the expansion, others who were for it, but for a vast array of reasons. Going there also showed me just how small the community was, how tight knit and how connected to other communities it was.

Being in a community can also show you the distance it is from larger centres, the challenges it may face to access education, health care and transportation.

Make sure not just to show up, ask permission from a resident (doesn’t have to be from the band leadership) and try to plan it around a community event. When I was covering stories about the oil sands in northern Alberta, we planned it around a career fair and a trapping trip.

The biggest, more important piece of advice I can offer, is start to see Indigenous people as not black-and-white caricatures who exist in homogeneous ways, but as three-dimensional, complex and diverse people, with various opinions, ways of life, experiences and values.

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage  Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Creates / Ontario Créatif


Developing an Editorial Mix for Your Regional Magazine by Anicka Quin

By Anicka Quin, Editorial Director, Western Living and Vancouver magazines

So you’re running a regional magazine—that’s great! The good news is, publications that celebrate community and connect with their readership on a personal identity level are more important than ever—and more popular than ever, too. Some of the most successful magazine launches in recent years have been focused around celebrating those unique communities and connection that is built around them—often creating an identity where people may have not recognized their need for one (think Garden and Gun, Burnt Roti, Kinfolk). Great regional magazines spark the imaginations of their readers, who will identify with your message of community and celebration of home.

So how do you do that?

Understand Your Audience

You’ll want to understand just who the reader is, and be able to paint a clear picture for your editorial team. If you’re just launching, some of this is going to come from gut check—you and your circle of friends and prospective readers who will express what really gets them going. Even new launches need to spend a lot of time out in the community, getting a sense of who their ideal readers will be. If you’ve got an advertising model for your publication, you can informally poll your clients as potential readers. (You’ll want to separate what works for them as a client—write about me!—to what works for them as a resident of the community, of course.)

For established publications, Vividata stats are gold—dig deep into figuring out your reader’s habits. (Do they own pets? Are they likely to spend more than $20 on a bottle of wine, or are they more interested in learning about the deals out there? Do they travel internationally, or do they explore the local haunts?) The closer you can get to what makes them tick, the better filters you will have for determining the ideal stories for your magazine.

If you’re not a member of Vividata, make your own readership survey, ideally with a great prize attached to generate more interest, and ask the psychographic questions you’re wrestling with yourself. Rather than just “How do you like our column by X?” find out what makes them tick as people: what are they passionate about in their communities and in life?

Your online readers and social media followers can also be a source of feedback. While they aren’t always the same people reading print and online—so do not assume the info you gather here is the final word—the stats you can garner from Google Analytics will give you a richer picture. And a story that goes viral online can also give you some instant feedback on what people want.

Who Are You Celebrating?

Magazines can be a powerful force in a community. When they get it right, they can both effect real change (see Toronto Life‘s story on police carding in Toronto, and its after effects) and strengthen a community. Western Living runs a Designers of the Year award program, for example, and the winners of those awards see their businesses change overnight—our readers support them by hiring them. What communities are underserved in your region and how can you reflect them in your pages?

People Want to See People

The success of regional magazines is often about reflecting the faces of those people in your community on the page. National magazines can struggle to truly represent all areas of the country, but you don’t have to. Whose story needs being told? In Western Living, “people seeing people” can be as simple as ensuring the homes we photograph have the real people living in them, and photographed within them. We highlight local designers, doing work here in our region. People connect with seeing their neighbours in print.

Develop Connections Across the Region

Your head office is just one part of your community, and it is important that you understand the issues and people of importance throughout your region. At Western Living, we have freelance city editors based in every city we write about. They file monthly updates with us about local events, new stores and new people we should be covering and paying attention to. Because we are a design-focused magazine, they will also scout homes for us, and they will attend events on our behalf. We also cultivate relationships with writers across the region who pitch local stories, but having this official, monthly check-in with our city editors keeps us better connected. Bring those writers into your editorial meetings when you can as well—they’ll make the brainstorming process even richer.

Ask, Why Now, Why Us?

One of the toughest decisions as an editor is to turn down a pitch not because it isn’t great, but because it isn’t a great fit with the magazine. This is where both your vision for the publication, and your knowledge of your ideal reader, is all too important. Every story should answer the question, why now—why is this subject or content important to talk about right now, as opposed to last year, or any other time? And it should also answer, why us? Why is this the right fit for your publication—could it better live in a more general interest publication? Does it celebrate or reflect a member of your community that your readers should really get to know? Does it have an angle that only you and your team can properly execute? If it is a no to any of the above, think about what would make it so.

Get Off the Page

Readers want to be feel a part of the brand. Take Garden and Gun for example. Jessica Derrick, their brand development manager, noted that “They just knew that if we were going to write about music, then our readers were going to want to listen to it.” They wrote about Alabama chef Frank Stitt, and then sold out a dinner for 50 people in Birmingham. The magazine starts the conversation, and we as human beings crave the community to discuss and experience it—to live in the world that this magazine has created. These events can be revenue generators for your brand, but they will also get you out in front of your readers and give you another opportunity to know who they are and what stories would connect with them.

Finally, Map out Your Yearly Calendar

Once you have narrowed in on topics that have local resonance, give your editorial team, your readers and your advertisers plenty of advance warning. Your readers (and when they will want to read about certain topics) are your priority, but do not forget to check in with your advertising team for times of year that certain content is helpful for them. If you’re planning to do an annual package celebrating the Top 40 Foodies in your region, check in with the sales team to see if there are healthier advertising budgets for restaurants, suppliers, markets, etc. at certain times of the year.

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage  Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Creates / Ontario Créatif


Fact Checking 101 by Conan Tobias

By Conan Tobias, Editor-in-Chief, Taddle Creek

Introduction: The State of Fact Checking

There are two types of fact checking: the kind that happens as a step in the editorial process before a piece is released to the public, and the kind that happens post-release, when published stories or videos, social media posts or a public figure’s comments are in question. This Hotsheet focuses on checking stories before they’re published, but given how prominent “fake news” has become in recent years, it’s important for every journalist to be aware of and keep up on the battle against misinformation. For example, the New York Times, Mother Jones, and BuzzFeed are a few of the publications that recently launched “misinformation projects” to identify false online content, in some cases reaching out for help from readers. Fact checker Brooke Borel’s FiveThirtyEight article “Fact-Checking Won’t Save Us From Fake News” is an excellent primer and opinion piece on the topic.

Up until early this century, many young journalists got their start in Canadian magazines by working as a fact checker. Those jobs are nearly non-existent today given the industry’s fading fortunes in recent years. For that reason, it’s more important than ever for everyone involved in the editorial process to have an understanding of how fact checking works. Traditionally, fact checking your own writing has been frowned upon. But better to check your own work than to have it not checked at all. If you’re an editor, you probably won’t opt to or have time to thoroughly check every story that crosses your desk, but knowing what to watch for and where the most common mistakes are made might help you catch an important fact that saves you from embarrassment—or lawsuit.

What is fact checking?

A fact is anything that is known to be true: the colour of a house, the balance of a bank account, a historical date, and so on. Therefore, fact checking is the act of confirming the accuracy of a presented fact. The practice of fact checking in the print media generally is associated with North American consumer magazines, and usually said to have begun at Time, in the 1920s, under Henry Luce and Briton Hadden. (The New Yorker, under founder Harold Ross, also is frequently given credit for helping to popularize fact checking.)

Why do we fact-check?

Fact checking is both a point of pride and a way to avoid being sued. If you’re reporting real-life events, it’s your duty to ensure the information that you’re presenting to your readers is accurate. Relaying false information does a disservice to the reader who paid to read your story, and to the sources who trusted you to tell it accurately. Plus, mistakes tarnish the reputation of both writer and publication. At the same time, while getting someone’s height wrong by an inch or two probably won’t be noticed by too many people, getting more serious facts incorrect—facts that may end up libeling a source—can land a publication in court and potentially put it out of business.

Who fact checks?

Ideally fact checking is undertaken by a trained professional: someone with one or more university degrees, a few languages at their disposal, and wide-ranging world knowledge. That ideal, sadly, is not often achievable on the budget of most magazines in the 21st century. Today, checking often is undertaken (if at all) by junior staffers, interns, or freelancers, but the basics still stand: in theory, a fact checker should be a blank slate (checkers never assume to know facts, they check them). But in reality, a checker needs to be knowledgeable, worldly, curious, sharp and attentive, with an eye for detail. The more knowledge a checker has, the better they’ll be at their job.

How to fact check

Checking usually takes place once a story has been edited, but before the copy editing process begins. Before beginning the checking process, a checker should discuss their approach with the editor, in the event there are any touchy sources or other potential pitfalls involved. A checker should start by reading the story to be checked two or three times, highlighting every fact. Authors should provide checkers with all of their source material: notes, documents, interview recordings, photos and source contact information, though a checker may still end up having to do some digging on their own.

Each fact should be checked with a primary source. A primary source is the most authoritative source for a given fact: asking a source their age is consulting a primary source; checking that fact with the source’s friend is consulting a secondary source. Checking a company’s financials via its annual report is consulting a primary source; checking those same numbers via a newspaper article is consulting (at best) a secondary source.

Once checking is complete, any potential changes should be discussed with the writer and editor. (If necessary, a legal team may be brought in to vet the piece for libel or other issues.) Just like every story is different, every checking process is different. There is no definitive norm.

What to check

Ideally, check everything. But if you’re short on time and resources, be especially sure to check proper names, numbers and consistency of story. Quotations from a source should be checked for the facts they contain, but never read quotes back to a source directly—they may regret something they said and try to take it back. Remember that letters to the editor, opinion pieces, reviews and fiction contain checkable facts too.

Finally, don’t stop at the story itself: check headlines, decks, bylines, author bios and captions. Even photos and illustrations need to be checked to ensure that they accurately portray their story.


This Hotsheet scratches the surface of how to fact check. For a more complete view, have a look at the following sources:
The Fact Checker’s Bible, by Sarah Harrison Smith (Anchor)
The Chicago Guide to Fact Checking, by Brooke Borel (University of Chicago Press)

Resources on Verifying Other Media
Cutting Through the Noise: Digital Accuracy” by Craig Silverman (Magazines Canada Hotsheet)
The Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network.

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage  Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Creates / Ontario Créatif


Diversifying your Contributors in Seven Steps by Chelene Knight

By Chelene Knight, Managing Editor/Executive Director of Room magazine, and Festival Director of the Growing Room Literary Festival

Photograph of Chelene Knight
Chelene Knight

When thinking about diversifying your contributors, you must first think about what this means to you and your team. What does diversifying really mean? It should go above and beyond race and gender, and consider all the various intersections and the ways in which they meld into one another. Wherever possible have an in-person meeting with your team and make sure that “diversifying our contributors” is the one and only topic. You should recognize that there is no end result, but instead a system of established accountability practices put in place to consistently reevaluate the magazine’s efforts while still adhering to your mandate, mission, values, and long-term goals. Ask yourself questions about what diversifying really means. These questions can include: Who are we not reaching, and why? How can we let folks know that we want their voices included? How do we include as many voices as possible, but in a respectful way?

Most often, folks submit to magazines, purchase issues and attend events by word of mouth, or because they have a longstanding history/relationship with the magazine and its values. Find a magazine that mirrors and reflects what you hope to be doing and reach out to them and ask about their procedures. Make friends and have conversations. We shouldn’t ever be operating in a silo.

Step One: Define what your inclusion goals are

Start by embracing the Three T’s: Transparency, Trust, Truth—your bridge to success.

  • Truth
    Being open and honest about your magazine’s intentions, as well as being forthcoming about mistakes you’ve made along the way, will lead into building trust with your current readers. Be honest about who is missing from your pages. Share (perhaps in a weekly newsletter) that you WANT To include these folks, but need a little help.
  • Trust
    Trust is earned when a magazine delivers on their promises and trust is solidified by creating quick and concise solutions if things do not go as planned. Did you miss mailing an issue? Did you spell a contributor’s name wrong? Do you reply to all emails? It’s all in the details. Replying to emails sent from the very folks you hope to reach out to is imperative. Listen to their rants and raves and in your reply, ask them what their ideas are. Take their ideas and present them to your team.
  • Transparency
    No one should expect everything to happen overnight. And because of this, it’s super important to make sure you communicate your journey with your writers, subscribers, supporters and followers. Are you working on creating an accessible space, but hitting a lot of road blocks along the way? Let people know! The journey is just as important as the destination.

Step Two: Identify the barriers and then remove them

Barriers are obstacles that stand in the way of not only certain people submitting to your magazine, but they can also stand in the way of even accessing it. The only real way to find out what these barriers are is to ask. Send out reader surveys, weekly newsletters (and in these newsletters ask your current subscribers to forward it to someone who may not know your magazine exists).

Step Three: Take a look in the mirror: Does your staff and governing body reflect who you are trying to reach? If not, rectify this

The majority of folks submitting to magazines will look to that masthead to check the diversity of who is on the editorial and governing boards:

  • people of colour
  • folks with varying education levels
  • women, non-binary, trans folks
  • Indigenous folks
  • Folks with various abilities and disabilities

The list goes on and on. What’s that old saying? Be the change you hope to make. Reflect it every day. Although the above is not an exhaustive list, I know that as a writer and as an editor that these are things that are very important to me.

Step Four: Community engagement

Hosting your own events is a fantastic way to attract attention and build a larger audience for your magazine, but attending other events aside from your own, meeting people, networking and supporting other local organizations is a fantastic way to build and strengthen community.

Step Five: Relationship building

It’s one thing to establish strong relationships with the community, but also consider doing the same with organizations outside of publishing. Speak with local shop owners, cafes, restaurants and the like to establish the “three T’s” and check in to see if your goals align with theirs. Do they want to increase food sales? Ask about hosting an event there, or collaborate in another way (discounts can go both ways).

Step Six: Action items you can implement now

  • Transparency via weekly newsletters.
  • Form an equity and inclusion committee and make that committee the core of every decision your organization makes.
  • Perform annual language audits on your website, and other materials to make sure your language is inclusive.

Step Seven: Accountability and constant re-evaluation

Again, diversifying isn’t a matter of checking boxes. The work you do to make your organization as inclusive as possible, inside and out, should become daily practice, a part of your mandate. Check in with yourselves frequently to make sure you are on the right track and to look for ways to continually do better. A great way to make sure that this never falls off your to-do list is to write it into your daily operations. Ask yourself if every decision you make is as inclusive as possible. If the answer is no, go back and try again. This is work. Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

Feature photo: The Jopwell Collection

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada Department of Canadian Heritage  Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Ontario Creates / Ontario Créatif


Recommended Reading: Become a Magazine Editor by Barbara Johnston

By Barbara Johnston, Editor & Partner, West Coast Editorial Associates

The magazine business, like all forms of publishing, has undergone seismic shifts in the last decade with the flight of print advertising to online and the growth of tablet and mobile reading habits, requiring existing magazines to reinvent themselves and providing new opportunities for innovators. Something that doesn’t change is the need to focus on readers’ interests and needs, and magazine editors who serve readers well will always be in demand. Here are some books, blogs and other resources that are useful for both new and experienced magazine editors.

Mastering the craft with dictionaries

Some cherish dictionaries, but they’re not everyone’s passion; if you’re going to thrive in magazines, you should know your way around the following three:

  • Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 2nd ed. (Canadian spelling patterns). Available online via subscription. The ITP Nelson Canadian Dictionary and Gage Canadian Dictionary are also used as Canadian sources.
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (American spelling patterns). Free online.
  • Oxford English Dictionary (British spelling patterns). Free online.

Mastering the craft with usage, grammar and other guides

Dozens of print and online works are available—what’s best for you will depend on the publication you’re working for. Here is a partial list to get you started; all are recent or recently updated:

Mastering the craft with style guides

There are many specialized and a few general style guides, but in Canadian general interest magazines you are most likely to follow the Canadian Press Stylebook, known simply as CP. It is well organized, frequently updated, available in French (La Presse Canadienne Guide de redaction) and available in print or as an online guide for an annual subscription fee. Also available is its very handy companion Canadian Press Caps and Spelling. Seeing as you can never have too many books (or bookmarks), here are some others to consider:

  • Associated Press Stylebook 2017. [print or online subscription]
  • Chicago Manual of Style. 17th edition. [print or online subscription]
  • Editing Canadian English: A Guide for Editors, Writers, and Everyone Who Works with Words. 3rd edition, 2015. Editors’ Association of Canada [print and ebook]

Breaking into the business

If you’re just starting out and want to become a magazine editor, it can be hard to know where to start: many different career paths might lead you there, and when you talk to people in the business you’ll find that their backgrounds, degrees and job histories are remarkably diverse. While this may seem discouraging, it actually means that if you really want to do this job, no matter where you’re starting from, it’s possible to find a path there! You’re probably inspired by the greats, like The Walrus, Harper’s, Geist, Maclean’s, Canadian Geographic or Vanity Fair. However, the fight for entry-level jobs at these institutions is fierce. To gain experience, consider the smaller magazines and journals that you might not see on the newsstands: depending on your interests, small literary or art journals, science and nature journals, online-only magazines, and industry and association journals (to name a few) employ many more editors than the newsstand magazines. At these magazines you can gain critical experience while doing satisfying, challenging work in fascinating niche fields, and you’ll meet talented professionals happy to pass on their knowledge and enthusiasm for the evolving world of magazine editing.

Career path to becoming a magazine editor [web resource]
Good basic information. Divided into three sections: Gaining Early Experience, Getting the Proper Education, and Breaking into the Field. Emphasizes the path from writer to editor, which is just one among many.

How to be a copy editor for a magazine [blog]
A short, clear article on what it’s like to be a copy editor for a magazine.

So you want to be an editor: Information about a career in editing (Editors’ Canada) [web resource and PDF]
Perhaps the best brief introduction and overview of the field of editing; includes sections on where and how editors work, career paths, rewards and drawbacks, educations and training, and interesting “meet an editor” boxes throughout, which bring the field to life.

Moving on up: Thriving in magazine publishing and editing

If you’re already in the magazine business and looking to work your way up to the corner office, here are some great books and sites to help get you there:

The Art of Making Magazines, edited by Victor S. Navasky and Evan Cornog, 2012. [179-page book]
A collection of 12 articles by editors, writers, art directors and publishers from magazines such as Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Elle and Harper’s. A fascinating and instructive read for anyone interested in being part of the magazine business, with a good mix of practical advice and behind-the-scenes war stories from leaders in the industry.

Best Practices for Canadian Magazine Publishing, Editing and Writing, PWAC, Canadian Society of Magazine Editors, and Magazines Canada, 2011. [9-page PDF]
Created through a consensus process involving writers, magazine editors and publishers from across Canada, this document describes the professional obligations for each group in succinct bullet-points. All three sections are worth reading so that one can understand not only one’s own role, but the perspective and expectations of the other two parties in this symbiotic relationship.

The Editor’s Companion: An Indispensable Guide to Editing Books, Magazines, Online Publications, and More by Steve Dunham, 2015. [231-page book]
A useful guide for both new and experienced editors, organized around editing for content, focus, precise language and grammar, along with advice on editorial relationships and workflow, and samples of editing with explanations of what was changed and why. Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada Hotsheets deliver current information on a single topic, each written by an expert in the field. Return to Magazines Canada Hotsheets.

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Canadian Magazines Shine a Light on #MeToo

Throughout 2017, deep frustrations drove painful, but necessary, public conversations about how bias and prejudices affect people’s lives. One of the most prominent conversations was about the sexual harassment and assault of women by influential men. The growing social outcry quickly transformed into the #MeToo movement, a rapidly expanding, international movement that spans age, industry and race with the objective to grow awareness about sexual violence and sexual assault against women, and open up the conversation about the inequalities that women face.

In exploring and publishing many different voices on this subject, Canadian magazines shone a light on the issues at play and helped shape our national conversation about the #MeToo movement from a variety of different angles.

Speak with: victims, subject experts, alleged violators, #MeToo leaders.


From Canadian Living to Chatelaine, Fashion Magazine and Flare, to The Walrus, Canadian Lawyer and Maclean’s, many Canadian magazines covered the #MeToo movement. Magazines interviewed movement leaders, victims, perpetrators, experts in the field of sexual harassment and the law, and even polled their audiences.

Maclean’s made one aspect of the conversation—the gender pay gap—visual with two different newsstand covers for their March 2018 issue, which were priced differently based on gender; men were asked to pay more for their copy. The magazine also published an investigative report into sexual assault accusations against Ontario Conservative MP Rick Dykstra, with Dykstra resigning as a direct result of their breaking online news. From opinion pieces to a book review, Maclean’s continues to cover the movement with many mediums.

The Walrus launched “Year in Action,” a cumulative project with long-form articles added throughout 2018, including “Am I Complicit in My Own MeToo” and “What Consent Means in the Age of MeToo.”

B2B magazines also weighed in on the movement, particularly those within the legal sector. Canadian Lawyer, already a veteran in covering sexual assault from a legality point of view, produced the online article “#MeToo Pushing Accountability for Sexual Assault Outside the Courtroom” and are following it up with an upcoming workplace-themed June/July 2018 print issue featuring two articles centering on the #MeToo movement. Legal magazine Precedent responded with opinion pieces such as “Why hasn’t the #MeToo movement come to law?

Consider format: Podcasts, surveys, covers, articles, book reviews, opinion pieces, video, interviews, surveys, charts, social media, gifs.


Canadian magazines covered this international story across platforms and mediums.

Chatelaine launched #TheManSurvey, asking 1,000 Canadian men between 25 and 65 about growing up, work, fatherhood, sex, mansplaining, loneliness, #MeToo and more. They transformed the results into “What’s It Like To Be A Man In 2018?” an exhaustive piece that featured charts, gifs, videos and more, to look at how our culture defines masculinity. [Ed: For more on how Chatelaine conceptualized and produced this survey, read our case study “Chatelaine: Canvassing for Content.”]

Canadian Living gave the issue a pop culture treatment with their listicle-style piece “5 Ways to Make Sure #Metoo Makes a Difference.” They also covered the movement in interview style with “What #WeMust Do to Continue to Empower Women and Girls Everywhere,” asking Caroline Riseboro, the President and CEO of Plan International Canada, to discuss the impact today’s movements are having internationally.

Ryerson Review of Journalism got in on the conversation with their Pull Quotes podcast episode “Journalism after #MeToo,” asking Canadian journalists where they should take the movement next. “Podcast formats can work well for these kinds of wide-ranging discussions, providing a space for dialogue that isn’t always possible in print,” says Laura Howells, Chief Podcast Producer, Ryerson Review of Journalism.

Balance: Velocity, sensitivity, accountability.


One underlying challenge of covering the #MeToo movement is the sensitive nature of the subject itself. To cover the movement with accuracy and true insight required journalists to ask pointed questions of both victims and alleged perpetrators, discuss difficult topics, and wrangle with their personal feelings about the subject. This required sensitivity in use of language and careful consideration in what questions should be asked—and how.

Another challenge was the sheer velocity with which the movement propelled itself forward. National magazines were forced to balance getting to print with an ever-growing, and at times shape-shifting, international story. To produce well-informed and thoughtful content that informed and captured the magnitude of the movement—backed up against deadlines—was a real challenge.

Lauren McKeon, Digital Editor at The Walrus, was able to overcome the challenge of trying to keep up with moments of change despite having a small digital team. They launched “The Year in Action” and “created a dedicated landing page where [they] could cover all different angles with a long-term focus.”

Finally, #MeToo coverage directly affected and continues to affect the lives and reputations of sources and subjects. Canadian Lawyer‘s Senior Editor Tim Wilbur stresses, “Magazines need to ensure that they are doing rigorous fact-checking and, wherever possible, seek legal advice.” Responsible journalism requires utmost respect of the full impact of published content.

Howells says: Consider the impact. Be thoughtful in your approach. Your content can affect your sources, subjects and audience.


When faced with covering a rapidly expanding movement, there are many things to consider.

Canadian Lawyer‘s Wilbur weighs in on the legalities of covering these kinds of subjects. “Legal requirements are different in Canada versus the U.S. Do some basic education on the legal issues and what kind of standards need to be upheld when reporting on something like this.”

For her part, The Walrus‘ McKeon takes a broader view and recommends honing in on what you do best a magazine. “From there, thinking about what kind of stories you bring that are unique and how you can cover the movement in a way that no one else can. Let your mandate inform your approach. Do what you do best. Think about how can you add that no one else can add. Don’t worry about playing catch up. You be you.”


Chatelaine: Canvassing for Content

For more than 80 years, Chatelaine has established itself as one of Canada’s most trusted brands by speaking to and with women about the best of style, home, food, health and real life. In keeping with this mandate, the magazine decided to commission major national surveys to get further insights into the minds and hearts of women across the country, aged 35 to 45. From these surveys, Chatelaine published two ambitious multimedia packages called “This is 40(ish)”—one in 2016 and the other in 2017. In 2018, as the #MeToo movement captivated the world, Chatelaine chose to focus on Canadian men and launched another survey—this time aimed at 25- to 65-year-old men. The resulting package, titled “The Man Survey,” revealed men’s thoughts on everything from masculinity to feminism, to sex, love, relationships and their role in the movement.

Survey: 45 questions; 1,000 people. Spinoff: Multimedia packaged content.


For each of their three surveys, Chatelaine worked with Abacus Data, an Ottawa-based polling, public opinion and market research firm.

“We asked ourselves what we would really want to know if we could ask anything,” says Lianne George, Chatelaine‘s Editor-in-Chief. The team then whittled down the list to about 45 questions and Abacus put these in front of 1,000 people across Canada. From the participants’ answers, the magazine spun off print pieces, multiple video series and social assets to support the surveys.

Having this multi-pronged approach gives Chatelaine an opportunity to “delve into conversations inspired by the results,” explained George. “This is actually the fun part, where you get to mine the findings for stand-out stats that lend themselves to deeper exploration via an article or video, for example.”

While Chatelaine‘s process started with defining what kind of content they wanted to produce, the team acknowledged they would need to remain flexible. “We had a sense of what we wanted to do when we started, but certainly the execution was informed by the most interesting results,” says George.

Finding balance: time x process


Chatelaine has a staff of 24; George estimates about half worked on the survey series when factoring in all the stages of content creation. It was no small or quick feat. To wit: the team worked to conceptualize the project, commission the survey, write the questions, parse results, assign content, produce video, shoot portraits, write, edit, design, plan social strategy and finally, publish. From start to finish, each package took about six months to complete.

Given the many moving parts, managing the timeline could have been a concern. But for George, it was a matter of allocating a generous planning period and sticking to a strict workback schedule.

Challenge: Making sure context and intent of participants' words are not lost in the editing process.


“One of our biggest challenges was ensuring we captured a representative collection of voices—both in responses to the survey and in our video series, where we teased out some of the most provocative questions,” says George. She stresses that it was crucial that the context and true intent of participants’ words were not lost in the process of editing hours of footage into minutes-long videos.

She also points to how highlighting surprising facts can garner much attention. “In our first iteration, what struck us was the stat that only 32% of women self-identified as feminists,” she states. “By publishing this, we were able to catch the attention of major influencers like Lena Dunham and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.”

According to George, 2017 was very successful from a traffic and engagement perspective. They created social media content that had major organic reach; designed a popular, cheeky and downloadable emoji set (including yogurt, a bottle of wine and some comfy, high-waisted underwear); and their hashtag, #ThisIs40ish, trended #1 in Canada on launch day. “It was one of our top stories of the year in terms of unique views and social engagement.”

When it comes to #TheManSurvey of 2018, Chatelaine was able to help nudge forward an important conversation about how certain gender expectations and attitudes shape the experiences of Canadian men and women.

Having established great success with the surveys over the past three years, Chatelaine is already planning another for 2019.

George says: Surveys are great for getting to know your audience. And they generate a lot of relevant story ideas, too!


According to George, the foundation for the multi-year project’s success came from working with the right polling firm.

“You’ll want to partner with someone you trust and who understands your editorial mandate,” she says. “Abacus really understood the value in what we were trying to do and helped us position our questions effectively without changing the editorial nature of the language we were using.”

She is also confident in Chatelaine‘s investment in these surveys. “They’re a great way to get to know your audience and generate a lot of relevant story ideas in one go!”

Read Chatelaine‘s survey content for 2016, 2017 and 2018.

This Showcasing Success case study was made possible with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)