Inside the 'Content' Factory

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The decision was that of Conrad Black, whose company bought Saturday Night in 1987 and launched the National Post, a Toronto daily, in '98. The magazine has never made him any money. But now the Post is competing with the Globe and Mail, and Black hopes to outsell the Globe on weekends by folding the magazine into the Saturday edition of the Post.

Tough was asked to stay on. But, he says, he has learned so much from running a monthly that the weekly "didn't feel like the best thing" to do next. He denies the change had anything to do with his content (see www.saturdaynight.ca). But the rumor is that Black's wife and business partner, Barbara Amiel, doesn't like Tough's sensibility and told him so to his face. That view is shared by Naomi Klein, the left-wing journalist Tough hired as an editor and writer last year.

Klein says the Blacks don't support Saturday Night because it's "not ideological anymore," whereas under previous editor Ken Whyte, the publication served their agenda. "If Paul were a right-wing ideologue," she says, "the magazine probably would have survived longer. Instead, he made it a wonderful literary magazine."

Whyte, now editor of the National Post, praises Tough's editing and integrity. "If he had been fired because he had failed to fall in line with a particular political agenda," says Whyte, "I can't imagine" him staying around.

Tough plans to stay until June, to help new editor Dianna Symonds with the redesign. He hasn't decided what he'll do next.

ccotts@villagevoice.com

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