Publisher of famed Toronto magazine NOW files for bankruptcy
The digital media consolidation and holding company that bought Toronto’s iconic NOW Magazine just over two years ago has filed for bankruptcy, according to the Globe and Mail, claiming just $352 in assets from $2 $.25 million in liabilities.
Media Central Corp Inc., also based in Toronto, bought the city’s beloved independent alternative weekly for around $2 million in December 2019, saying at the time that it would “preserve the legacy, the integrity and breadth of NOW’s historical influence” while “guiding it in its next evolution.”
It was the second acquisition for the publicly traded holding company, bringing NOW into the same fold as a cannabis news and lifestyle site called CannCentral.com. Vancouver’s The Georgia Straight and a gaming news website called ECentralSports have since joined the Media Central fold.
The company, according to The Globe, says its voluntary bankruptcy filing “will not affect” its two flagship publications (NOW Magazine, which is run by subsidiary Now Central Communications Inc., and Georgia Straight, which is published by Vancouver Free PressPublishing Corp.)
Fans of the longtime Toronto alternative weekly may nevertheless be worried, given recent organizational developments and the departure of some top staff.
Congratulation to @normwilner in his new role @TIFF_NET. It’s pretty cool that the last writer I hired at my old magazine is joining the writer he replaced, my second writer hired there. @cameron_tiff. Two very talented guys. I can’t wait to see what they do together. Good luck Norman. https://t.co/vwvupUNk7U
— Michael Hollett (@m_hollett) April 1, 2022
Just over three weeks ago, on March 10, 2022, the magazine’s acting editor announced on Twitter that NOW would significantly reduce its print offering, releasing physical newspapers only once a month compared to every week, as it has for decades.
“Our current print issue featuring Domee Shi’s Turning Red on the cover will be the last of a few weeks. NOW will be in print monthly for now with upcoming issues scheduled for April 7 and May 5, in part as cost-saving measure, but also to rationalize our efforts and develop our digital audience”, writes Radheyan Simonpillai in a letter shared on Twitter.
“NOW’s talented and dedicated team passionately covers local politicians, musicians and artists. They continue to work against the challenges created by COVID-19 that have negatively impacted local advertising revenue in categories that have historically supported our independent publication (including arts, culture, entertainment, food and drink).”
Simonpillai said NOW will “continue to cover such worthy people and trends” on nowtoronto.com, asking members of the public to “continue to support your local alt-weekly by following us online.”
“I hope it’s just a bad time and you come back stronger than ever,” replied a fanencapsulating the feelings of many.
The stands were empty this morning. Here’s why. pic.twitter.com/tOQ8krY63j
— NOW Magazine (@nowtoronto) March 10, 2022
News of the bankruptcy filing doesn’t seem to have spread very far among loyalists yet, but the departure of one of the magazine’s most senior and respected staff, film critic Norm Wilner, has exploded on Twitter. all day.
“Some personal news: After fourteen years, I am NOW leaving Toronto to see if there are really any second acts in [North] American lives. More on that tomorrow.” tweeted Wilner to the rabid public interest on Thursday afternoon.
“Writing for NOW has been the best gig of my career. [Glenn Sumi] and [Radheyan Simonpillai] are two of the best writers and editors in the business, and I’m not saying that just because they’ve said yes to almost everything I’ve featured.”
On Friday morning, Wilner revealed he had left NOW to join TIFF “as a programmer in digital broadcast, with responsibilities in both theatrical and non-theatrical spheres.”
So many people expressed their joy over the move that “Congrats Norm” actually started trending locally on Twitter late Friday morning.
NOW Magazine was co-founded in 1981 by Michael Hollett and Alice Klein.