Publisher of Toronto's iconic NOW Magazine files for bankruptcy
The digital media consolidation and holding firm that purchased Toronto's iconic NOW Magazine just over two years ago has filed for bankruptcy, according to the Globe and Mail, claiming a mere $352 in assets against $2.25 million dollars in liabilities.
Media Central Corp Inc., also based in Toronto, bought the city's beloved independent alt weekly newspaper for about $2 million in December of 2019, claiming at the time that it would "preserve the legacy, integrity and magnitude of NOW's historic influence" while simultaneously "guiding it into its next evolution."
This marked 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 come to join the Media Central fold.
The company, per The Globe, says that its voluntary bankruptcy filing "will not affect" its two flagship publications (NOW Magazine, which is run by the subsidiary Now Central Communications Inc., and Georgia Straight, which is published by Vancouver Free Press Publishing Corp.)
Fans of the long-running Toronto alt weekly may be concerned, nonetheless, given recent organizational developments and the departure of some high-profile employees.
Congratulations to @normwilner in his new role @TIFF_NET. Kind of cool that the last film writer I hired at my old mag joins writer he replaced, my second ever film writer hire there @cameron_tiff. Two very talented dudes. Cant wait to see what they do together. Good luck Norm. 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 be drastically cutting back its print offering, publishing physical newspapers only once a month compared to every week, as it has been doing for decades.
"Our current print issue featuring Domee Shi's Turning Red on the cover will be the last for a few weeks. NOW will be printing monthly for the time being with upcoming issues planned for April 7 and May 5, in part as a cost-saving measure but also to streamline our efforts and grow our digital audience," wrote Radheyan Simonpillai in a letter shared on Twitter.
"The talented and dedicated team at NOW passionately cover local politicians, musicians and artists. They continue to work against the challenges created by COVID-19 that negatively impacted local advertising revenue in categories that have historically supported our independent publication (including arts, culture, entertainment, food and drink)."
Simonpillai said that NOW would "keep covering such worthy people and trends" at nowtoronto.com, asking audience members to "please continue supporting your local alt-weekly by following us online."
"Hope this is just a bad moment and that you'll come back stronger than ever," responded one fan, encapsulating the sentiments 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 does not appear to have spread very far among loyalists just yet, but the departure of one of the magazine's most-senior and well-respected employees, film critic Norm Wilner, has been blowing up on Twitter all day.
"Some personal news: After fourteen years, I'm leaving NOW Toronto to see if there really are second acts in [North] American lives. More on that tomorrow," tweeted Wilner to 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 finest writers and editors in the industry, and I'm not just saying that because they said yes to almost everything I ever pitched."
On Friday morning, Wilner revealed that he had left NOW to join TIFF "as a programmer in digital releasing, with responsibilities in both theatrical and non-theatrical spheres."
So many people have been expressing their happiness 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.
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