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December 5, 2014

Profile: Delores Broten, Editor of The Watershed Sentinel

It’s a long story of how I got into the magazine industry.  I was student of Michael Ondaaje at York University in Toronto and I was doing a linguistics project that turned into a huge research project in collecting sales figures of Canadian literature. From this I became interested in Canadian literature and publishing; I had always worked on student magazines, it was a whole way of life.  After I finished school, I moved to Cortez Island, BC and I took on doing a forestry newsletter, which evolved into the Watershed Sentinel.

To some extent I did have a previous interest in this area.  I was editing at York University newspaper in 1970, and we ran the slogan,  “Ecology the Last Fad”.  It was one of many different interests.

The most challenging thing about this industry are the budgets, budgets, budgets! Having enough money for staff and training, but also getting enough money to keep the thing running.  Most small magazines have this problem.

When I was little I wanted to be a Galactic Integrator, and working on the Watershed Sentinel I kind of get to be this. I get to pull stories together, and show how they go together; I get to be a coordinator of topics.  Plus I also love working with the creative side. I love working with all of the people too. Really, I love it all.

The topics I most like reading about in magazines are political scandals!

What I wish I knew about the magazine industry before I started the Watershed Sentinel were the technical details.  The Magazine Association of British Columbia helped us a lot through the workshops they offered; we wouldn’t be where we are now without that. That’s how we got into selling subscriptions.

To have a successful magazine and be happy with what you do, don’t expect miracles, or money. Do it for love!

Print remains a different quality of experience than online reading.  I think magazines will stick around but with smaller circulation and more content, and what we are dealing with right now is similar to the e-book scare. Right now, we are balancing print with a more dynamic online presence, but we can have more audience engagement by using the Internet.

The Watershed Sentinel I don’t think will ever be entirely digital. Producing print requires things to be “more serious” in a different way; it requires different writing and gives a different experience.  The print magazine is our anchor.

Social media has helped us get our name out there because it is cheaper to promote through social media! It is more effective in some ways than traditional advertising because you can plant the right message at the right time.

I think the world of Canadian publishing is a wonderful experience.  It may not be lucrative, but it is a community of fascinating people. The secret is to not let the economy worry you!

-- By Krissy Bublitz, Langara College Library Technician Practicum Student with MagsBC, March 2013.

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