Walrus finds interim editor

John MacfarlaneJohn Macfarlane, former editor of Toronto Life, has agreed to jump in as part-time, interim editor and co-publisher of The Walrus, the magazine announced today.

Macfarlane will step in until the the magazine’s board of directors finds a full-time replacement editor for Ken Alexander, who announced last month that he would step down from the top editorial position.

“It would have been difficult for me to turn my back on the Walrus in a time of need,” said Macfarlane, in a news release.  “Canada needs and deserves a magazine with its literary and intellectual aspirations. It’s been remarkably successful in its short lifetime. I’m simply lending a hand until we find an editor who can make it even more so.”

Macfarlane stepped down as editor of Toronto Life last year, but remains on the advisory board of its parent company, St. Joseph Communications. He was also recently named chairman of the board of the Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF).  

Also announced recently, Walrus creative director Antonio De Luca is leaving the publication after five years. “It has been a rich experience,” said De Luca. “We have all contributed as a whole to making this magazine important and award-winning. My departure has nothing to do with anything other than my need to fulfill other creative parts that will only help me aspire to reaching my own human potential.”

UPDATE: The Globe and Mail report following the announcement said Macfarlane is prepared to stay at The Walrus for more than six months, as the search for the right editor could take awhile. 

Globe arts writer James Adams quotes Walrus publisher Shelly Ambrose:

“We didn’t want to rush into naming a new editor. There’s a process that should happen here,” she said Wednesday. “And frankly, with the fundraising and the foundation [The Walrus is published by The Walrus Foundation, a registered charity with an educational mandate] and the board work, I need help. … I’m so glad [Macfarlane] felt he could step up and wanted to step up.”

The story adds:

One of Macfarlane’s initial tasks involves overseeing the production of The Walrus‘s fifth-anniversary issue, a special October-November double issue. 

John Macfarlane at the 2008 National Magazine Awards