Cover of Maclean's, September 22, 2008, issue
(General interest until 1975)
|Publisher||St. Joseph Communications|
|Paid print: 225,963|
|First issue||October 1905 (as The Business Magazine)|
1911 (as Maclean's)
|Based in||Toronto, Ontario|
Maclean's is a Canadian news magazine that was founded in 1905, reporting on Canadian issues such as politics, pop culture, and current events. Its founder, publisher J. B. Maclean, established the magazine to provide a uniquely Canadian perspective on current affairs and to "entertain but also inspire its readers". Its publisher since 1994 (after acquiring Maclean-Hunter Publishing), Rogers Media announced in September 2016 that Maclean's would become a monthly beginning January 2017, while continuing to produce a weekly issue on the Texture app. In 2019, the magazine was bought by its current publisher, St. Joseph Communications.
The Business Magazine was founded in October 1905 by then 43-year-old publisher and entrepreneur Lt.-Col. John Bayne Maclean, who wrote the magazine's aim was not "merely to entertain but also to inspire its readers". It was renamed The Busy Man's Magazine in December 1905, and began providing "uniquely Canadian perspective" on varied topics such as immigration, national defence, home life, women's suffrage, and fiction. Maclean renamed the magazine after himself in 1911, dropping the previous title as too evocative of a business magazine for what had become a general interest publication.
Maclean hired Thomas B. Costain as editor in 1917. Costain invigorated the magazine's coverage of the First World War, running first-person accounts of life on the Western Front and critiques of Canada's war effort that came into conflict with wartime censorship regulations. Costain was ordered to remove an article by Maclean himself as it was too critical of war policy.
Costain encouraged literary pieces and artistic expressions and ran fiction by Robert W. Service, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and O. Henry; commentary by Stephen Leacock and illustrations by C. W. Jefferys, F. S. Coburn, and several Group of Seven members, including A. J. Casson, Arthur Lismer, and J. E. H. MacDonald.
In 1919, the magazine moved from monthly to fortnightly publication and ran an exposé of the drug trade by Emily Murphy. In 1925 the circulation of the magazine was 82,013 copies. Costain left the magazine to become a novelist and was replaced by J. Vernon Mackenzie who remained at the helm until 1926. During his tenure, Maclean's achieved national stature.
After Mackenzie, H. Napier Moore became the new editor. An Englishman, he saw the magazine as an expression of Canada's role in the British Empire. Moore ultimately became a figurehead with the day-to-day running of the magazine falling to managing editor W. Arthur Irwin, a Canadian nationalist, who saw the magazine as an exercise in nation-building, giving it a mandate to promote national pride. Under Irwin's influence, the magazine's covers promoted Canadian scenery and imagery. The magazine also sponsored an annual short story contest on Canadian themes and acquired a sports department. Irwin was also responsible for orienting the magazine towards both small and big "L" Liberalism.
During the Second World War, Maclean's ran an overseas edition for Canadian troops serving abroad. By the time of its final run in 1946, the "bantam" edition had a circulation of 800,000. Maclean's war coverage featured war photography by Yousuf Karsh, later an internationally acclaimed portrait photographer, and articles by war correspondents John Clare and Lionel Shapiro.
Irwin officially replaced Moore as editor in 1945, and reoriented the magazine by building it around news features written by a new stable of writers that included Pierre Berton, W. O. Mitchell, Scott Young, Ralph Allen, and Blair Fraser.
Allen became editor upon Irwin's acceptance of a diplomatic posting in 1950. This era of the magazine was noted for its articles on the Canadian landscape and profiles of town and city life. The feature article, "Canada's North", by Pierre Berton, promoted a new national interest in the Arctic. Prominent writers during this period included Robert Fulford, Peter Gzowski, Peter C. Newman, Trent Frayne, June Callwood, McKenzie Porter, Robert Thomas Allen and Christina McCall. Exposés in the 1950s challenged the criminal justice system, explored LSD, and artificial insemination.
Maclean's published an editorial the day after the 1957 federal election announcing the predictable re-election of the St. Laurent Liberal Party. Written before the election results were known, Allen failed to anticipate the upset election of the Progressive Conservative Party under John Diefenbaker.
The magazine struggled to compete with television in the 1960s by increasing its international coverage and attempting to keep up with the sexual revolution through a succession of editors including Gzowski and Charles Templeton. Templeton quit after a short time at the helm due to his frustration with interference by the publishing company, Maclean-Hunter.
In 1961, Maclean's began publishing a French-language edition, Le Magazine Maclean, which survived until 1976, when the edition was absorbed by L'actualité.
Peter C. Newman became editor in 1971, and attempted to revive the magazine by publishing feature articles by writers such as Barbara Frum and Michael Enright, and poetry by Irving Layton. Walter Stewart, correspondent and eventually managing editor during this period, often clashed with Newman. In 1975 Newman brought in columnist Allan Fotheringham. Fotheringham made famous The Back Page, where he wrote for 27 years. Readers would go to read the Back Page first and then proceed to read the magazine from back to front.
Under Newman, the magazine switched from being a monthly general interest publication to a bi-weekly news magazine in 1975, and to a weekly newsmagazine three years later. The magazine opened news bureaus across the country and international bureaus in London, England, and Washington, D.C..
In 1982, when Newman retired, his managing editor, Kevin Doyle, became editor-in-chief. Doyle, a former reporter for The Canadian Press in Ottawa and a New York-based writer for Newsweek, expanded coverage of news and opened a Moscow bureau. On his watch the magazine published the first of yearly annual polls by Allan Gregg on the Canadian condition and the controversial university ranking issue, which became an annual mini-franchise for the magazine. At its peak, the magazine had 2.3 million weekly readers.
When Doyle left Maclean's in 1993, publisher Brian Segal appointed Robert Lewis as editor-in-chief. The managing editor under Doyle, Lewis had opened the magazine's Ottawa bureau in 1975 when it became a newsmagazine. Under Doyle, Lewis was responsible for the launch of the first university ranking issue. While he was editor, writer Ann Dowsett Johnston won several National Magazine Awards (NMA) for the annual university issue and the magazine received an honourable mention in the 1998 Michener Awards for investigative reporting on sexual harassment and rape in the Canadian military. The article by Jane O'Hara also won two medals at the National Magazine Awards in 1999, including the President's Medal, and "remains one of the most significant and studied feature stories in the history of Canadian magazines," according to an official NMA history.
In 2001, Anthony Wilson-Smith became the 15th editor in the magazine's history. He left the post at the end of February 2005 and was replaced by Kenneth Whyte, who also serves as the magazine's publisher. The magazine has been owned by the Rogers Communications conglomerate since Rogers acquired Maclean-Hunter, the former publisher, in 1994.
Whyte, who previously edited Saturday Night and the National Post, brought a right-wing focus to the magazine, bringing in conservative columnist Mark Steyn, hiring Andrew Coyne away from the Post, and rehiring Barbara Amiel. He also added a comedy feature by former Liberal Party strategist Scott Feschuk, and a column by Andrew Potter, who previously wrote for left-leaning periodicals.
The magazine has 15 editions in Canada.
Rogers Communications announced in September 2016 that due to falling print ad revenue the magazine is to change its printing schedule from weekly to monthly beginning in January 2017 although it will continue to offer weekly digital editions via Rogers' Texture digital bundle.
Canadian Islamic Congress complaint
In December 2007, the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) launched complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, British Columbia Human Rights Commission, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission against Maclean's accusing it of publishing 18 articles between January 2005 and July 2007 that they considered Islamophobic in nature including a column by Mark Steyn titled "The future belongs to Islam". According to the CIC complaint (as discussed in a National Post article by Ezra Levant): Maclean's is "flagrantly Islamophobic" and "subjects Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt". In contrast, Levant says of the complainants that they are "illiberal censors who have found a quirk in our legal system, and are using it to undermine our Western traditions of freedom". On October 10, 2008, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal dismissed the allegations of "hate speech" made by the Canadian Islamic Congress. Maclean's consistently took the position that Steyn's article, an excerpt from his best-selling book, America Alone, is a worthy contribution to an important debate on geopolitical and demographic issues, and that plaintiff's demands for equal space for a rebuttal was unreasonable and untenable.
The October 4, 2010, edition of the magazine – web-published September 24, 2010 – had a cover article with the headline: "Quebec: The Most Corrupt Province", with the subheading inside the magazine, "Why does Quebec claim so many of the nation's political scandals?" The cover illustration featured the Quebec Winter Carnival mascot, Bonhomme, carrying a suitcase overflowing with cash. This depiction angered some Quebec politicians and organizers of the Carnival.
On September 26, 2010, Quebec Premier, Jean Charest, wrote a letter to the editor of Maclean's condemning the magazine's "twisted form of journalism and ignorance", calling it "sensationalist", "far from serious", "simplistic", and "offensive", saying the editor "discredited" the magazine. In an example of the law of unintended consequences, the controversy has had an unexpected benefit for the Quebec Liberal Government: The Opposition in the Quebec National Assembly had been demanding that Premier Charest create "a public inquiry into allegations of corruption and collusion in Quebec's construction industry". However, seeing the Maclean's article as an attack from outside the province, an attack from English Canada, and "with their [Quebec's] acute sensitivity to criticism coming from outside the province, many in the province's media and political classes have shifted their attention from the Premier to the mischievous Toronto-based magazine". Thus, his letter to the editor of Maclean's posits Charest as "the defender of Quebecers in their 400-year struggle to preserve their culture and language. His letter demands that Maclean's apologize for publishing 'a simplistic and offensive thesis that Quebecers are genetically incapable of acting with integrity'."
In an editorial dated September 29, 2010, the magazine refused to back away from its position vis-à-vis corruption in Quebec. In the English-language magazine's bilingual editorial, the editorial board says that Charest's response to the Maclean's article was an attempt to "implicate ordinary citizens in a scandal created by [its] politicians. 'It is bad enough that the people of Quebec have to put up with corruption in public office – they shouldn't be smeared by it as well'", Notwithstanding this assertion, Maclean's acknowledged "that neither its cover story nor an accompanying column provided empirical evidence that Quebec is more corrupt than other provinces". This is not, however, a retreat from its contention that Quebec is the most corrupt province, given that the editorial board goes further, saying
It's true that we lack a statistical database to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Quebec is an outlier among the provinces. But that does not mean we are required to suspend all judgment in the face of a preponderance of evidence—scandal after scandal at every level of government in the province, all of them involving not just one or two bad actors but systemic corruption.
Maclean's editors also note that "none of our critics has mounted a credible case that any other province better deserves the title of worst in class". Moreover, not all opinion in Quebec runs contrary to Maclean's position. The French-language La Presse, the province's leading broadsheet, wrote that "[Maclean's] claim that Quebec has a higher number of scandals is 'undeniable'." Rhéal Séguin, writing in The Globe and Mail, notes that the English-language Montreal Gazette, however, is of the opposite opinion, editorializing that "Maclean's is wrong. It didn't come close to making its case."
Despite the steadfast position of Maclean's editorial board, the magazine's publisher has issued a qualified apology. On September 30, 2010, referring to the controversy, Brian Segal, the president of Rogers Publishing, apologized for "any offence that the cover may have caused", saying the province "is an important market for the company and we look forward to participating in the dynamic growth of the province and its citizens".
"Too Asian?" article
In the November 2010 university ranking issue under the editorship of Kenneth Whyte and Mark Stevenson, reporter Stephanie Findlay and senior writer Nicholas Köhler wrote an article about the perceived over-representation of Asian students at Canadian universities, entitled "Too Asian?" This led to allegations that Maclean's intentionally perpetuated racial stereotypes to court controversy for the sake of publicity. Amidst criticism from a number of student unions and politicians, on December 16, 2010, Toronto's city council voted to request an apology from Maclean's magazine as the third Canadian city to do so after Victoria and Vancouver. In a letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Senator Vivienne Poy, suggested that public outrage over the Maclean's article, "defined as material that is denigrating to an identifiable group," should deem it ineligible for government funding.
Guide to Canadian Universities
The Maclean's Guide to Canadian Universities is published annually in March. It is also known as Maclean's University Guide. It includes information from the Maclean's University Rankings, an issue of the magazine proper that is published annually in November, primarily for students in their last year of high school and entering their first year in Canadian universities. Both the Guide and the rankings issue feature articles discussing Canadian universities and ranking them by order of quality. The rankings focus on taking a measure of the "undergraduate experience", comparing universities in three peer groupings: Primarily Undergraduate, Comprehensive, and Medical Doctoral.
Schools in the Primarily Undergraduate category are largely focused on undergraduate education, with relatively few graduate programs. Comprehensives have a significant amount of research activity and a wide range of graduate and undergraduate programs, including professional degrees. Medical Doctoral institutions have a broad range of PhD programs and research, as well as medical schools.
In early 2006, Maclean's announced that in June 2006, it would be introducing a new annual issue called the University Student Issue. The issue would feature the results of a survey of recent university graduates from each Canadian university. However, many universities, such as the University of Calgary, McMaster University, and the University of Toronto, refused to take part in this exercise. The three institutions stated that they questioned the "magazine's ability to conduct a survey that would be rigorous and provide accurate and useful information to students and their parents". In response, Maclean's sought the results of two university-commissioned student surveys: the Canadian Undergraduate Survey Consortium (CUSC) and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Results from these surveys, along with Maclean's own graduate survey, were published in the June 26, 2006, edition of Maclean's.
For the November 2006 University Rankings issue, 22 Canadian universities refused to provide information directly to Maclean's. To rank those universities, the magazine relied on data it collected itself, as well as data drawn from third party sources such as Statistics Canada. Among the universities that refused to provide information directly to Maclean's in the fall of 2006 were: University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, Dalhousie University, McMaster University, University of New Brunswick, University of Manitoba, Université du Québec network, Simon Fraser University, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, Ryerson University, Université de Montréal, University of Ottawa, York University, Concordia University, University of Western Ontario, Lakehead University, Queen's University, Carleton University, and University of Windsor. The withholding of data served as a means of voicing the universities' displeasure with the methodology used to determine the Maclean's ranking. Indira Samarasekera, president of The University of Alberta, further discussed this in the article, "Rising Up Against Rankings", published in the April 2, 2007, issue of Inside Higher Ed.
The University Rankings Issue contains a compilation of different charts and lists judging the different aspects of universities in different categories. The three main areas listed in chart form in the University Rankings Issue as at November 3, 2006, are: the overall rankings themselves, the university student surveys, and the magazine's "national reputational rankings" of the schools.
The National Reputational Rankings, like the main university rankings, are broken into three subcategories: medical doctoral, comprehensive, and primarily undergraduate and are based on opinions of the quality of the universities. The quality opinions gathered were contributed by secondary school principals, guidance counsellors, organization and company heads, and recruiters. The results of the reputational rankings are included in the main university rankings, and account for 16% of a university's total ranking score.
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- Official website
- "The 2010s: 2019 | The Complete Maclean's Archive". – 100,000 stories from 1905 to 2008 are free to read.
- "Maclean's Education hub".