"Everything to Catch the Pennies."
One of the province's most enduring cultural icons, The Newfoundland Quarterly, celebrates 102 years of publication this year. Founded in 1901 by John J. Evan, the magazine is today owned by Memorial University. Luminus interviewed the new editor, Linda Whalen (PhD'90) and discovered that she has embraced her role with enthusiasm. She has the challenging task of assembling a wider range of content, increasing the magazine's circulation and publishing on a quarterly basis.
"Content is the easy, fun part of putting a magazine together. The real challenge is increasing the circulation," says Linda Whelan. She looks relaxed as she sits beside the wooden table strewn with paper, page proofs and other paraphernalia of her trade. Her office is at the north end of Memorial's St. John's campus. Through the third-floor window you can see the ice beginning to melt on Long Pond. "We're very fortunate that the Quarterly has always enjoyed the support of the arts and letters community. Our editorial board is a great example." Linda has high praise for board members Anita Best, BA '71, Ray Fennelly, Robin McGrath, Helen Peters, BA '71, MA '72, Bert Riggs, BA (Hons.)'77, B.Ed. '77, and Joan Ritcey, BA '76. "Not only are they contributors but they also work with writers, photographers and visual artists to develop content readers will enjoy."
Ensuring the magazine's continued growth means they must also increase the number of subscribers, says Linda. "The university can only contribute so much to production costs and, while our subscribers are very loyal, we need many more." According to her, anyone who is interested in the cultural and intellectual life of Newfoundland and Labrador will find value in subscribing to the Quarterly. "That's why I'm happy to have this opportunity [through Luminus] to invite Memorial alumni and friends to subscribe."
Traditional readers were concerned about the fate of the Quarterly after longtime editor Dr. Harry Cuff, BAE'52, MA'71, retired in 2001. "It's notoriously difficult to keep a small magazine like ours in operation. The Quarterly is pretty much a labour of love for us," admits Linda.
Faced with the challenge of maintaining the magazine, the university, the Newfoundland Quarterly Foundation Board and the Newfoundland Historical Society — whose publication, Aspects, is incorporated into the Quarterly—conducted a feasibility study in the summer of 2002. The response was immediate.
After the study began, Robin McGrath summarized people's opinions: "For over a century the Newfoundland Quarterly has been a meeting place for both the intellectual and the folk traditions of this region. No other part of the country can boast such a close association between the past and the future."
The study concluded that, with updated content and effective marketing, the journal has a significant place on the map of the province's cultural landscape. Memorial's president, Dr. Axel Meisen, supported this finding: "I see the Quarterly as a bridge linking the University and the community."
The cover of their subsequent issue, December 2002, looked like the old Quarterly, but its readers encountered a refreshing new look inside. In addition to traditional literary and historical fare, are feature articles on media, theatre, film and IT. Linda says public response was exciting. "That issue was a dress rehearsal for the new format. The Spring 2003 issue has been appreciably enhanced. In addition to Aspects and substantial literary content, we have articles on contemporary issues and events and a column by Ray Guy. And that's only the tip of the iceberg," she adds with a smile.
Supporters of the magazine include many well-known people inside and outside the province. Quarterly board member Dr. Bernice Morgan, D.Litt.'98, told the Newfoundland Historical Society at a recent symposium, "The Newfoundland Quarterly has always been one of the foundations of our sense of place so essential to our cultural identity. There's no better present you can give anyone, especially someone who no longer lives in the province."
Linda sees the role of the Quarterly as "providing a forum for discussion that will draw contributions from thoughtful people of good will from all parts of our society. We hope readers, especially Memorial's alumni, will support that, whether it's
through editorial and artistic contributions or through subscriptions to the journal. Or, better again, both."
Send cheque or money order to:
The Newfoundland Quarterly
3004 Spencer Hall,
220 Prince Philip Drive,
St. John's, NL, A1B 3X5.
Annual cost: $20 in Canada;
$35 in the U.S.; $40 International