The National Magazine Awards Foundation is pleased to welcome three new members to its Board of Directors for 2013-2014.
Theresa Ebden is the director of media and analyst relations (Canada) at Accenture and a former journalist with The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Business News Network and others.
Steve Maich is the senior vice-president of publishing at Rogers Media, prior to which he was the founding editor-in-chief and publisher of Sportsnet, and group publisher of Rogers consumer business magazines.
Dominique Ritter is the managing editor of Reader’s Digest, former editor-in-chief of various titles at Spafax Canada and a freelance writer and editor.
“On behalf of the NMAF I am pleased to welcome Theresa Ebden, Dominique Ritter and Steve Maich to our board of directors for 2013-2014.The volunteer members of the NMAF board support the mission of Foundation to recognize and promote excellence in Canadian magazine content. The board serves as guides in fulfilling our mandate to support a vibrant Canadian magazine industry. On behalf of my fellow members of the board, I’m grateful for their important service to our industry and I am pleased to have these three new members join us for an exciting year ahead.”
– Douglas Thomson, president of the NMAF
The NMAF would also like to thank its outgoing directors for 2013: Sarah Moore, managing editor at Star Content Studios, and Robert Goyette, vice-president and editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest.
Canada’s reigning Magazine of the Year Corporate Knights is not resting on its laurels. According to a story in Masthead Online, the magazine’s latest issue is printed on 60% wheat straw “paper,” which its editor Tyler Hamilton says may be a more sustainable product to meet printing needs in the future.
The latest issue of the magazine features American actor and entrepreneur Woody Harrelson, one of the founders of Manitoba-based Prairie Paper Ventures, which produces the wheat straw stock.
Off the Page appears regularly on the Magazine Awards blog. Today we catch up with Julia Belluz, whose blog–Science-ish–published by Maclean’s, won gold in the inaugural National Magazine Award for Best Blog earlier this year.
NMAF: Tell us a bit about Science-ish, what you consider its publishing niche to be, and who your readers are.
Julia: Coffee is good for your health! Coffee is bad for your health! Vitamin D will save your life! Vitamin D will kill you quicker! I created Science-ish in response to bewildering and contradictory claims like these that float around in the popular discourse.
This confusion doesn’t end with individual health choices. Politicians frequently make assertions about health that aren’t necessarily informed by evidence, as do journalists, celebrities, and anyone who thinks they can get away with it.
So the blog is a sane place where readers can learn about the actual science behind the headlines. My readers tend to be doctors, nurses, students, policy wonks, researchers, and anyone who is concerned about health and science.
NMAF: What makes an online media outlet such as Science-ish not only trustworthy but indispensable in a news world where there exists so much information and content?
Julia: As a health reporter, I see a great deal of pseudoscience-based journalism in my field, which does nothing to elevate the discourse about science and instead confounds people. To be sure, science is far from perfect. There are a lot of systemic problems with science—the limitations of peer review, the perverting influence of industry, etc.—but I think the act of going back to primary sources and scientific evidence and seeing if there’s something to glean is a worthwhile exercise.
I want to say that every blog entry is balanced, but I don’t think that’s a good word because I’m always taking a stand after reading and interviewing a lot and thinking about the arguments and counter-arguments that I have encountered. I hope that sets Science-ish apart and resonates with readers.
NMAF: What do you think is the significance of having Science-ish win a National Magazine Award, not only for you as a health and science journalist, but also for the medium of online magazine publishing?
Julia: It’s a great honuor to be recognized by peers who work across subjects and venues in journalism. It seems to be increasingly true that readers can expect good writing and reporting in many places—blogs, web pages, etc.—and it’s wonderful that the NMA recognizes that with its new online awards categories.
NMAF: You’re currently a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. Can you tell us a bit about the program and what you’re working on there?
Julia: The fellowship was designed to be a cultural exchange where journalists could learn more about science, studying alongside future researchers and scientists at MIT, while scientists could learn from visiting journalists. Right now, I’m learning about how science is made, and how it’s applied (or not) in public policy and decision-making. I’m also looking at the forces that shape what science gets done (or not). I hope this will inform my understanding of the interplay between research, policy, and practice, which is very important at a time when we’ve never generated more research, yet in many cases, we’re failing to apply or capitalize on that knowledge.
Julia Belluz is a three-time National Magazine Award-winning journalist. Her profile of the writer Ian Brown, published in the Ryerson Review of Journalism, won her the NMA for Best Student Writer in 2007 and also won a Silver in the profiles category. Science-ish is a joint project of Maclean’s, the Medical Post and the McMaster Health Forum. Follow Julia on Twitter @juliaoftoronto.
Who will win Best Magazine Blog of 2013? Submissions open next week for the 37th annual National Magazine Awards. Deadline: January 15, 2014.
The most decorated online magazine at this year’s National Magazine Awards is publishing a print product. Hazlitt, winner of 3 Gold National Magazine Awards–including the prestigious Magazine Website of the Year–at the 2012 NMA gala this past June, announced this week that it is launching a print edition.
Hazlitt No. 1 (Winter 2014) will be on magazine racks this month and, completing a full circle, will also have an electronic version. According to the publisher, Random House Canada, Hazlitt No. 1 collects some of the greatest hits and seminal tracks previously published on the website alongside newly commissioned work.
Launched as an online magazine in August 2012, Hazlitt won the National Magazine Awards for Best Magazine Website Design and Best Online Video, in addition to Magazine Website of the Year, at the 36th annual NMA gala this past June, its first year of eligibility.
The new print title features work by National Magazine Award winners and nominees Lynn Crosbie, Michael Winter, Billie Livingston, Sarah Nicole Prickett, Alexandra Molotkow and more.
At the National Magazine Awards Foundation we are getting very excited about the upcoming year, our 37th recognizing and rewarding the very best in Canadian magazines. We’ll be announcing our call for entries next week. Here are the important dates for the coming year:
Off the Page appears regularly on the Magazine Awards blog. Today we catch up with Sierra Skye Gemma, winner of the 2012 National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer.
[This post has been updated to include the new deadline for the Prism International Creative Non-fiction contest deadline: Dec 5.]
NMAF: Earlier this year you won the National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer for a story called “The Wrong Way” (The New Quarterly), a personal essay and critical meditation on the stages of grief. Tell us a bit about how you developed this story and why you decided to submit it in the annual non-fiction writing competition from TNQ?
Sierra: The Wrong Way came out of an assignment in a Creative Non-fiction course with Andreas Schroeder. I had never written a personal essay before and when I started I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to say. Not exactly, anyway. I looked up Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief because I thought it would explain my experiences. I thought I could structure my essay according to the stages, but I realized that Kübler-Ross’s theory didn’t apply to my life at all. My essay then developed as a sort of antagonistic call-and-response with conventional grief theories.
I sat and wrote it in two sittings, straight through from beginning to end. I didn’t move things around after that and I barely edited it. That said, I had bits and pieces of it already written. Little vignettes that I hadn’t known what to do with before, like the story of buying my son the fish and aquatic frog. I had also taken extensive notes when my sister died and I wrote down lots of dialogue. Maybe that sounds weird; maybe not, if you’re a writer. But what do you do with a short “scene” between siblings that, when read on its own, seems to make light of the death of another sibling? Well, I guess you build an elaborate home in which it can live. The Wrong Way was that home for many of my disjointed experiences with grief.
I submitted the essay to The New Quarterly’s Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest because Andreas Schroeder told me to submit it to a contest (and not through the slush pile of regular submissions); he thought the essay was good enough to win. The New Quarterly’s personal essay contest seemed like the obvious choice. The lesson here? Always listen to Andreas Schroeder.
NMAF: What was the significance for you as a young writer winning that contest and then the National Magazine Award?
Sierra: Winning both the contest and the NMA gave me confidence in my writing, which I never really had before. Winning the NMA also got my work noticed. After I won Best New Magazine Writer, the essay was selected to appear in the Best Canadian Essays 2013 anthology, alongside some very successful writers. It is an amazing honour that I feel would not have happened without the National Magazine Awards.
NMAF: As a writer and also an editor of PRISM International, a literary magazine published by the Creative Writing Program at UBC, you are in a good position to survey the landscape of Canadian literary arts. What are the challenges and rewards of devoting yourself to this industry?
Sierra: I think the greatest challenge to being an editor of a literary magazine (or a writer for that matter) is money. There is not a lot of money in literary magazines. Small lit mags live and die by the decisions of the Canada Council for the Arts and the various provincial Arts Councils. They live and die by the seemingly small financial decisions of their staff. They live and die by their contest entries and subscriptions and by the ebb and flow of their donations. Editing and managing a literary magazine is not a career for the lazy or the extravagant. It takes a lot of careful, cautious, and sometimes tedious work to keep a literary magazine alive.
That said, it is so emotionally rewarding. I have been a reader for the past two Creative Non-fiction Contests at PRISM and I will be a reader again this year. The emotional rollercoaster that this work has taken me on is intense. You feel the author’s highs and lows. I’ve cried and I’ve laughed until I’ve been in tears.
Although I’ve also read for other contests and other magazines, it is PRISM’s Non-fiction Contest that really makes it worth it for me because the stories are real and they matter. They matter to the author, who is risking so much to share; to the readers with whom the stories will resonate; to the editors, who have the responsibility for creating the long list and the short list; and to the contest judge who has to make the toughest decisions.
Our Creative Non-fiction Contest deadline is coming up on
November 28th [Update: December 5] and I can’t wait to start reading again!
NMAF: What are your immediate goals as a writer, and what are you working on these days?
Sierra: This summer I received a grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada to perform research for a novel set in 1950’s California. I spent three months in northern California—taking notes, visiting museums and farms, interviewing seniors and experts, and exploring the countryside—so my research is nearly completed.
I’ve been meaning to finish my outline and start writing, but I’ve been a little distracted by another project that I have been working on for over a year: a humorous and irreverent parenting book that I’m co-writing with blogger Emily Wight. We have completed our non-fiction book proposal and one sample chapter, but I’d like to get a few more chapters done before I launch into the novel.
Sierra Skye Gemma is an award-winning writer and journalist working towards an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. Aside from the National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer, this year Sierra was also honoured with the first-place award in creative non-fiction in Rhubarb’s Taboo Literary Contest, a long-list nod in House of Anansi’s Broken Social Scene Story Contest, and a BC Arts Council scholarship. She is an executive editor of PRISM international, western Canada’s oldest literary magazine. Her work has been published in The New Quarterly, The Vancouver Sun, Plenitude, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter @SierraGemma.
The National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer
Meet the finalists for Best New Magazine Writer
A Writer’s Guide to Canadian Literary Magazines
Your Guide to Fall 2013 Canadian Magazine Writing Contests
More Off the Page interviews
The Canadian photographer, now based in New York, won the Gold National Magazine Award last year in Portrait Photography, for “Never Left Art School” (a series with Douglas Coupland) in Montecristo magazine. He was previously a finalist for the Best New Visual Creator award in 2010, for “A Man Called Cope” (Report on Business).
The exhibition, “Pictures,” is on display until December 21.
From the O’Born Contemporary site: Working within portraiture and documentary photography, Peckmezian attempts to leverage the analog-digital divide, producing work that draws into relief the enduring value of analog processes in our new digital-dominated photographic landscape. He recently completed his BFA in Photography from Ryerson University in Toronto, and is represented for commercial and editorial work by Stash. His photographs have been published in Prefix Photo, on the cover of Report on Business and Function, and have been selected for inclusion in Flash Forward, touring internationally.