Small Business

A proud tradition of change

Written by James Cowan

In August, 1930, Kenneth J. McArdle welcomed readers to a new era of this magazine. For two and a half years, the publication had been a drab, eight-page newsletter for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. But the organization saw an opportunity to transform its in-house bulletin into a glossy magazine for sale on newsstands.

McArdle, the managing editor, wrote that the staff had done “everything within our power” to make the magazine worthy of its new readers. He added a curious caveat, saying it would be foolish to assert the first issue was perfect. “That is a condition that will never exist while sane ambition and pride walk hand in hand with consistent hard work,” he wrote. “Time alone can be the factor to foster such changes as meet the critical eye of the editors as well as the public.” McArdle made some promises in his introductory note that modern management consultants would applaud: to welcome feedback, to tinker relentlessly and to embrace change.

These instincts have remained constant in the 86 years since McArdle wrote his letter. The magazine has had two names (it was The Commerce of the Nation until 1933), 15 editors-in-chief and moved from monthly to biweekly to monthly again. Areas of coverage shifted over time—we no longer review industrial training films, for example. Time fostered change; we tacked and tweaked in response.

In 2017, we’ll do it again. This is the last print edition of Canadian Business. As business journalists, we can see where the opportunity in our own industry lies. Media consumers now spend 25% of their time on mobile devices and 22% on the Internet, compared with 4% reading print, according to eMarketer data. Half of Canadian magazine readers now use a digital device to read, according to Vividata. As management theorist Peter Drucker once observed: “The greatest danger in times of turbulence isn’t the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” As readers move to digital, we won’t argue; we’ll meet them there.

Already, a significant portion of our readership has never touched a copy of the magazine. Some find us through Kickstart, our daily management briefing. Others encounter us through our daily live broadcasts on our Facebook page. Many arrive from a Google search and discover more than just the answer to their question. Our expertise doesn’t lie in turning pulp into paper or binding pamphlets with staples. We’re journalists with stories to tell. That’s the core of our business and won’t alter, regardless of delivery method.
For those loyal readers of Canadian Business in print: Thank you. Many have stuck with us for decades. We will continue doing everything in our power to remain worthy of your support.

Like my predecessor McArdle, I’d to welcome you to a new era of Canadian Business. From day one, this has been a brand committed to constant reinvention. The end of our print edition isn’t breaking from the past. It’s embracing what we’ve been since the beginning.

James Cowan is the editor-in-chief of Canadian Business.

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