Tuesday, July 15, 2003

If they can't do it, no one can? Sorry, but no

Candis McLean, former Report editor, complains in the Edmonton Journal (via Jeremiads) that the Byfields are being slammed as wacky extremists and, alas, adds this:

I worked for the magazine for five years and I have never met anyone who worked harder than the Byfields, or who struggled more determinedly to keep an ideal afloat. They ceased publication only after every courageous effort had been made to fight society's drift toward today's buzz word of "whatever!"

I admire the Byfields greatly, but as readers of this space know, I disagree with their long term planning, or lack thereof, which led to the death of the magazine. You can write this and still be grateful to the Byfields and have lots of respect for what they did and how they did it. I toiled in the vineyards of the Byfields for many years for these reasons.

"They ceased publication, only after every courageous effort"? Well, I do know that the Byfields tried to hold everything together with baling wire and duct tape for many years. I'm very grateful for that. Indeed the fact that we were trying to do something noble with very few resources became a point of pride for those people who worked at the magazine.

But, I must point this out. "Every courageous effort" must include efforts to sell the magazine to conservative people with deep pockets. That's essentially what the Byfields were able to do when they got John Scrymgeour et al. to pay for the magazine's losses. It wasn't termed a sale because the backers didn't take day-to-day control of the magazine, which remained in the Byfields' hands.

If I have a complaint about the Report post-mortems, it would be that there is too much "wacky Byfields" and not enough "Why can't the only conservative magazine in the country make a go of it?" Why didn't the Byfields sell? That's my "Carthage must be destroyed!"

But, I had a good run and it was a very fun job. Thanks, Byfields.