A National Magazine Awards salute to The Grid

BSI-grid

It was announced today that The Grid, Toronto’s popular and award-winning weekly city magazine, is closing after an inspiring three-year run following its evolution from Eye Weekly. Publisher Laas Turnbull, a former director of the National Magazine Awards Foundation, told Marketing magazine that the shut-down is due to declining ad sales, changes in media buying patterns and a lack of time to develop new revenue generators that the magazine had been testing. “We ran out of runway,” he said.

Since it launched in May 2011 with the first of its annual Chef’s Guides to Toronto, The Grid won 15 National Magazine Awards (10 Gold, 5 Silver) from 53 nominations; over that span, only The Walrus, Report on Business and L’actualité won more.

As we bid it farewell, the NMAF looks back on some of the most remarkable Grid content to be celebrated at the National Magazine Awards. (You can find more in our online archive.)

After all, to the magazine that once famously gave us 94 Excuses to Drink Now, let’s raise a glass.

The second-ever cover story by The Grid (May 19-25, 2011) swept the Gold medals in the categories Magazine Covers, Art Direction of an Entire Issue and Art Direction of a Single Article. That hadn’t happened at the NMAs since 1998.

At this year’s National Magazine Awards a new category for Infographics was introduced. The Grid snagged 5 nominations for this award, winning Gold for “How much does a street cost?”

GridGuide-Hitched

Among its many popular “Guides,” The Grid’s “Guide to Getting Hitched” was a standout, winning Gold for Single Service Article Package in 2012. Other award-winning guides: “… to Father’s Day in T.O.“; “… to Buying a Condo“; “… to TIFF.”

The Grid’s popular website, thegridto.com, which drew 400,000 unique visitors per month, also garnered awards. “Are You Going to Eat That?” about food safety won Gold in Web Editorial Package in 2012.

The Grid, May 10, 2012. Editors: Laas Turnbull, Lianne George. Art Director: Vanessa Wyse. Including contributions from The Grid staff and contributors.

Photographer Angus Rowe Macpherson’s spread of conceptual food-truck portraits (“Truckin’ A!“) won Gold for Creative Photography in 2012.

"January 12, 2012" - The Grid, Art Direction by Vanessa Wyse

This cover shot was also nominated for Creative Photography in 2012.

The colourful feature “Toronto’s Waterfront Is…” won a Silver in Words & Pictures in 2011.

 

Finally, Danielle Groen’s impressive story on public-school sex ed won a Silver National Magazine Award in 2012. Read the entire article and view more award-winning work from The Grid in the National Magazine Awards Foundation’s online archive.

Our best wishes to the talented staff and contributors who made The Grid so wonderful, informative and beautiful.

A Look at Canada’s Best Magazine Websites

At this year’s 37th annual National Magazine Awards, macleans.ca–the website of Canada’s 103-year-old venerable news magazine–won the award for Magazine Website of the Year.

The award goes to the magazine website (either a companion site or an online-only magazine) that most successfully fulfills its editorial mission by representing the highest journalistic standards and effectively serving its intended audience by maximizing the possibilities afforded by the medium of web-based publishing. A jury convened by the National Magazine Awards Foundation evaluates all entries and comes to a consensus on three finalists and a single winner.

With more than 2.1 million total weekly readers, Maclean’s magazine continues to be a major force in Canadian news and opinion. Online, macleans.ca is a compelling destination for political commentary and discussion, feature stories, social debate and cultural musings. Visitors get full access to exclusive online features, interactive media and the latest from its award-winning bloggers.

The Maclean’s web team presents a platform that can look great on any screen, big or small. Their grid-like display allows for easy translation to a scrollable list format on your mobile device. Functionality and content prominence are what make their simplistic design work.

“For Maclean’s, we are now presenting more information than ever before, while at the same time occupying less screen real estate until you need it,” says senior director and publisher Ryan Trotman.

Their layout choices create a site that is easily digestible and remains consistent with the way we currently consume information through social media. Our surfing habits have changed and macleans.ca has addressed this new social characteristic.

 

HONOURABLE MENTION

The judges awarded Honourable Mention in the category Magazine Website of the Year to Hazlitt and Torontoist.

Five of Hazlitt‘s most recent and popular features play on a slideshow atop the site, which was founded in 2012 as an online literary and cultural affairs magazine by Random House Canada. Sections chosen for Hazlitt’s menu bar communicate their unique role in the world of literary fiction.

Features, Blog, A/V, Comix, Fiction and Hazlitt Originals line the top of their homepage, echoing their core value in exhibiting great writing on diverse subject matter while contributing to cultural at all levels. A grid-like image and title display sits to the right of a list of their ‘most popular’ articles. Their most recent publications and twitter feed follow, appearing atop a freeform of content links organizes in blocks.

Users can scroll titles referring to subsection headings for anything that may be of interest. The style does not present the visitor with rigid sections, but rather allows the content to be displayed in a way that gives all subsections equal treatment.

“Hazlitt aspires to publish great writing on everything,” its editors told the NMAF in a statement submitted with its application. “Politics, art, the environment, film, music, law, business. Books and writers, their ideas, insights and stories, are at the heart of what we do, because books and writers are at the heart of culture, both high and low.”

Displaying a cover photo and a lead to impress visitors to ‘read more,’ the Torontoist site exhibits a format similar to what we see when we open a newspaper to scan for stories. Editor-in-chief Hamutal Dotan says this was done intentionally to challenge the idea that online magazines are somehow less informative or not as well-researched as hard copy, printed articles.

“We aim to be the home for people who really care about Toronto, who want to engage in its development and evolution, but who don’t equate formality of tone with substance,” she says.

Regular features, such as ‘Extra, Extra’ and ‘Newsstand’ are Torontoist’s way of offering curated content in what Dotan calls “a downright commitment to sharing work that other publications, including our competitors, are producing.”

In an editorial mandate received by the National Magazine Awards Foundation, the Torontoist editors referred to the site as “compulsively readable and up-to-the-minute… Torontoist is a digital magazine for the modern, edgy urbanite, eschewing categorization in order to serve and reflect a dynamic city full of people who want to learn more about the place they call home.”

Make macleans.ca, Hazlitt and Torontoist part of your summer online reading.

And congratulations to all the winners of the 37th annual National Magazine Awards.

Special thanks to Melissa Myers for her research and conducting interviews for this post.

NMA winner named a ‘Great Montrealer’

Writer/economist Pierre Fortin – three times a National Magazine Award winner for his regular columns in L’actualité – was named one of this year’s Great Montrealers by the Metropolitan Montreal Board of Trade earlier this week.

Dr. Fortin is an emeritus professor in economics at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) whose work in the economics of US-Canada free tradethe labour marketsubsidized child carepopulation growth and minimum wage have earned him a fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada and a Governor General’s Gold Medal, among other accolades. He was once the chief economic advisor to former Quebec premier René Lévesque.

His highly regarded columns in L’actualité have been nominated for 7 National Magazine Awards; he won Gold in 2003 and 2008, and Silver in 2007.

According to its press release, the Academy of Great Montrealers now consists of 118 members named since 1978. Each year the Board of Trade honours individuals “who have distinguished themselves through outstanding contributions to the community in their respective spheres of activity, whether that be economic, social, cultural, or scientific.”

Poetry and Pain, as told by NMA winner Patrick Lane

“The outward pain and the inward pain. If you learn the inward pain inside you, you’ll grow as a human. Fine poetry gives us a look at the inward world.”

That’s esteemed Canadian poet and two-time National Magazine Award winner Patrick Lane, speaking to a class at the University of Toronto last week, on why we read poetry.

Mr. Lane, who won an NMA Silver in 1986 for his poetry in Canadian Forum and a Gold award in 1988 for his poetry in Border Crossings, recently published a new collection of poetry, aptly titled The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane (Harbour Publishing).

According to the article in the Toronto Observer, he also offered the students a few witty reflections on the legacy of Steve Jobs (“The person who invented the [birth control] pill… changed the course of history more than him”) and how he once delivered a baby in a logging camp (“Next thing I knew I was holding a slippery football shape in my arms”).