Monday, September 24, 2007

1978: The Beginnings

History of the Company (Russel Bareng)

Tony Chan, Cheuk Kwan, and Lao Bo started Asianadian in 1978. Its original intention was to be a Cantonese language magazine about Hong Kong News; Anthony Chan was not part of this original project. However, it was surmised that this magazine would not do well without an English edition. This English edition was to be a translation of the Cantonese version – one side would be in Cantonese and the other would be in English.

Chan was contacted by Kwan and was asked to do the English edition. This English edition was to be called Crossroads. Chan turned in his first issue of Crossroads to Kwan and they decided that the Crossroads edition was not a worthwhile addition to their Cantonese magazine. The project was eventually discarded. However, at the famous Mars Restaurant in Toronto Canada, the three met and talked about social justice, activism, and criticism in the Asian Canadian community. The original articles Chan turned in for Crossroads was prime material to be used for Asianadian. However, they deemed that the title was not very suitable for the types of discussion that would be found.

The original title of Crossroads contained ten letters, Asianadian also had ten letters so it was decided that this new magazine would be called Asianadian. The originally layout of Crossroads was used and the term “Asianadian” was placed over each mention of the name “Crossroads.” Thus, the first issue of Asianadian was created in 1978.

The Asianadian was in publication from 1978 to 1985. Since this magazine was not a company, it depended on many volunteers investing time and effort to create its quarterly issues. Most of the costs to cover the magazine were from the few ads placed in each issue and money from the pockets of the staff. Nearing the end of its life, Asianadian received a one-year grant from the government. Enough money was given to cover the costs of rental space for the office, labor, materials, and salaries for the four staff members at the time.

By 1985 however, the staff was burnt out from working issue to issue. Most of the key members had families and those concerns took priority to the magazine. It was also difficult to run the magazine on the budget that it was receiving. Momoye Sugiman, one of the later staff members also believed that the political fervor of the 70’s had died across the United States, taking Asianadian along with it.

Value of the company in US$ (Russel Bareng)

Asianadian Resources Workshop is the name of the organization that produced the Asianadian magazine. The Workshop was a collective of like-minded Asian Canadians rather than a company. Unlike companies, the Workshop had no interest in making profit. Much of the money required to run the magazine came out of the staff’s pockets. Tony Chan was a graduate student while working at Asianadian. Cheuk Kwan was the one of the few members who had a full-time job so he was able to put money into Asianadian.

Since Asianadian was not a traditional company, there was no stock to trade. Value of Asianadian could only be determined by the amount of advertising in each issue. Advertising rates were occasionally published in issues of Asianadian. Cost was determined by the size of ad compared to the overall page. The advertising rates were as follows: 1/12 page would go at 18 dollars, 1/8 at $25, 1/6 at $32, 1/4 at $45, 1/3 at $55, half a page at $80, 2/3 at $105, 3/4 at $115, a whole page at $150, outside back cover at $300 and finally the inside cover at 225 dollars.

The first step was to determine amount and size of ads placed. Next, the team added all of the costs for placing the ads. Once that was completed, the total cost of ads placed was divided by the number of magazines used for gathering cost data; this represents the average value of one issue of Asianadian. This number was multiplied by four to determine average yearly cost. Asianadian was a quarterly magazine so the number four was used. Since Asianadian was a non-profit magazine, deductions such as salary were not necessary. The chart below shows the breakdown of how the value of an issue of Asianadian was calculated.

A strange phenomenon noticed was how in later issues of Asianadian, there was almost a 50 percent drop in advertising.

Leadership and worth in US$ (Russel Bareng)

Since Asianadian was a collective rather than a company, there was no monetary value in the leadership. Asianadian was the first ever grass roots magazine dedicated to Asian Canadians. Most of the staff were college students with the exception of a few people such as Cheuk Kwan, who held steady jobs.

Leadership Control (Marian Tseng)

Unlike many publications today, such as Giant Robot or Yolk Magazines, Asianadian was unique in the sense that not one person dominated the publication process or had control over the collective. Since Asianadian was not a traditional company but rather a collective, the sense of equality between colleagues was especially strong. A collective is defined as a group of like-minded individuals working together for a common cause. Every member was on equal footing and was able to contribute ideas, constructive criticism, and feedback freely. Each issue had a rotating editor that oversaw the production of that particular edition but even then, decisions tended to be made as a group (Siu, 2002). Having a rotating editor, a different person in charge of a particular issue, allowed everyone to have a leadership role at one point or another but not monopolize these positions. Each member was aware of the duty they had – to bring important Asian societal and cultural issues to the surface. This duty enabled them to stay humble and work cooperatively as a group.

In addition, not having set roles in the “company” or having to be dependent on advertisers money allowed them to focus on more important issues such as portraying the Asian Canadian experience in a truthful light. This way, there was no need to restrain themselves from reporting on certain stories for fear that an advertiser would pull sponsorship from the magazine if they did not agree with the articles that were written. In fact, Jean Chong shared that Asianadian made a point to stay away from obtaining corporate funding because they wanted independence when penning their articles (Chong, 2002). This allowed each member to write unabashedly, focusing on issues that were sometimes difficult to write about at the time. Examples of these issues include stories on mental health and racism. Asianadian offered resources and support to their readers through their articles by giving them information on how to deal with these topics.

It is apparent in articles of Asianadian that these revolutionary learners were writing for the magazine because it was their passion to pass on the vision of Asianadian. It was revolutionary because it was the first magazine devoted to tackling the issues of Asian Canadians and even more noteworthy because the majority of the collective were students at the time. Although passion for the magazine consumed some writers more than others, there were no issues with people being more authoritarian. In her interview, Momoye Sugiman really stressed that the group was not a hierarchy but rather equals (Sugiman, 2002). This promoted harmony and allowed the members to work on the magazine rather than disagree with each other. By doing so, their ideas were disseminated more widely than if they had spent time worrying about advertising and bickering over control of the collective.

Profile of Stockholders (Marian Tseng)

Since Asianadian was not a company, rather a collective, they lacked stockholders. Instead, the members of the Asianadian Resources Workshop were a group of people dedicated to disseminating their vision, which was to provide a forum for Asian Canadians irrespective of their ethnicity, language or country of origin. This vision was a guide for how they wanted to organize their collective and what stories they wanted to focus on. However, when Asianadian was still in circulation, each contributing member was considered a shareholder in the collective because they were all a part of bringing this revolutionary magazine to life.

Current Value of Stock in US$ (Marian Tseng)

As emphasized before, Asianadian was not a company in the traditional sense so they had no stock in the market at the time. Furthermore, since Asianadian’s final issue was in 1985 they would no longer have stock even if they were a traditional company. During the time of the publication, the operating budget for the magazine was said to be around $6,000 Canadian or less (Chong, 2002). Most of this funding came out of the pockets of contributing writers and subscriptions

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