Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Time vs. Maclean's: and the winner is...

A piece of junk mail caught my eye this week; an offer to subscribe to the Canadian edition of Time magazine. I am an avid reader of Maclean’s Magazine, so this piqued my curiosity. Which is the better magazine for the money?

Hands down, Time is cheaper. They are offering me 56 issues for $30 and two years for $35. One year of Maclean’s will set me back $57 and two years will cost $100, more than triple the cost of Time. However, that’s where Time’s advantage ends.

Unless you have an affinity for superficial coverage of American news and don’t give a fiddler’s fart about what’s going on in Canada, Time is a waste of paper. The Canadian edition is a misnomer, since the two recent issues I examined had almost no Canadian content. There was one article in the January 1 edition about the Canadian Man of the Year (Stephen Harper) and the February 12 issue was Canuck-free. Calling the magazine ‘Canadian’ borders on deception.

MacLean’s, on the other hand, is a remarkably good magazine. I have been a subscriber for more than 10 years, and have seen the magazine evolve from a dry, dust-gathering fixture at the dentist’s office to a vibrant and challenging read. When editor Anthony Wilson-Smith left in 2005, to be replaced by Ken Whyte, former editor of the right-leaning National Post, there was concern that the magazine would tip too far to the right. While this influence is there, on the editorial page and in the appointment of former National Post writers – such as Mark Steyn – it is clear that Whyte’s priority, first and foremost, is to create a quality magazine packed with provocative reading.

Maclean’s has abandoned its dry weekly news wrap-up format, in favour of a more featurish, analytical and subjective writing style (which is essential, since weekly glossies cannot compete with daily newspapers and electronic media for straight news coverage). The magazine has also gotten bigger, increasing content by 30% and more.

My favorite columnists in Maclean’s are Paul Wells (penetrating political commentary), Andrew Potter (intelligent, left leaning) and Scott Feschuk (the funniest man on earth). The arts and entertainment section is bigger and better, and the writing throughout is always good and often excellent. If you haven’t read Maclean’s Magazine in a few years, I strongly recommend you pick up a copy. You will not be disappointed. (Hint: it is much cheaper to subscribe.)

Above all, don’t waste your money on Time magazine!


Peter W said...

Mr. Meeker

Interesting reflections on Macleans' magazine. At one time I was a regular subscriber. For much of my teenage years up to my mid twenties it was must have reading material. I sort of lost interest. Recently I started reading it again and just subscribed yesterday. The new layout is fresh. The columns are thought provoking and the coverage of Canadian issues is fantastic.

Although Time Canada is cheaper, I would argue that you would be shortchanging yourself to pick it over the more in depth and enjoyable Maclean's.

Now lets debate Fraser Forum or Policy

dchafe said...

Hey Geoff,

Any time you want to do a comparative analysis of Progress and Atlantic Business, I'm game!

Dawn Chafe
Atlantic Business Magazine

Anonymous said...

Hi Geoff -

Time Canada laid off its editorial staff last spring; I don't think they have anyone here specifically working on it, but I stand to be corrected. They still refer to the mag as a Canadian edition, although it is that in name only.

I used to write for Time Canada years ago, and quite liked them.

John Gushue

Anonymous said...

Hi Geoff,
I'm impressed with your blog and its wide variety of topics.
Most enjoyable.
At one time, I was a subscriber to Time Canada; it is indeed disappointing to see this magazine go downhill with its Canadian content. Maclean's is once again delivering a solid, stylized magazine. For lighter fare, Canadian Living is a staple in my house ~ but I've recently started a monthly subscription of Downhome Magazine. Now there's a group who've turned things around!
Lisa Gushue

Anonymous said...

Time Canada went away and forgot to tell its Canadian subscribers. I still have a paid one year subscription and no magazines. No one out there seems to respond.