CAJ Awards Deadline extended till February 8

The deadline for the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) awards program for 2011 has been extended until February 8, 2012.

There are 14 awards this year, including two new ones: the Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) / CAJ Award for Human Rights Reporting; and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Canada / CAJ Award for Labour Reporting.

Most awards carry a cash prize of $500. You can download all entry forms in the CAJ website.

The CAJ awards will be presented during the CAJ’s annual conference in Toronto, April 27-29, 2012.

Off the Page, with Alex Leslie

Off the Page is an exclusive new series produced by the NMAF that reaches out to former National Magazine Award winners to find out what their awards have meant to them and what they’re up to now. Off the Page will appear regularly on the NMA blog during the winter and spring of 2012. This week we catch up with National Magazine Award-winning writer Alex Leslie.

NMAF: You won a 2008 National Magazine Award in Personal Journalism for “Pre-History,” a moving memoir of childhood published in Prairie Fire and a piece that had previously won that magazine’s creative non-fiction contest. How did that piece evolve from your desk to the Prairie Fire contest and ultimately to a National Magazine Award?

Alex: The piece was written for a workshop led by Andreas Schroeder, and I wrote it over the course of about two months. I submitted it to the Prairie Fire contest because Mark Anthony Jarman was the non-fiction judge that year and I admire his work. Prairie Fire nominated the piece for the NMA and let me know that it was in the running.

NMAF: How did it feel to win a National Magazine Awards, and what has it meant for you as a young writer to win?

Alex: I think every award and publication helps in terms of visibility and other opportunities coming up. I was surprised to win the National Magazine Award as it was the first time I was nominated (the next year my short story “Catalogue of the Coast” got an Honourable Mention in the fiction category). As a young writer every gesture of support is very meaningful because writing is ultimately utterly solitary.

NMAF: Since then you’ve also won a CBC Literary Award and you’ve been focusing on fiction. Where are you in your writing career now and what are you working on?

Alex: My first book of short stories, People Who Disappear, will be published by Freehand Books in April. I’m looking forward to reading from the book in several cities — Vancouver, Calgary, Regina and Toronto. Freehand has been amazing to work with. I’m also guest editing the Queer issue of Poetry Is Dead, a Vancouver poetry journal; I’ll be looking for submissions of Queer poetry and experimental prose by Canadian writers. I’m working on a second collection of short stories right now and I just did my first reading outside of Canada, at an offsite reading for the Seattle MLA conference.

Alex Leslie is a Vancouver-based writer and the author of the blog Stories That Happen Elsewhere. Her forthcoming collection of short stories, People Who Disappear, will be out in April from Freehand Books. You can read more about Alex and her work at her Award-Winning Creators Profile page.

Grantham Prize and other Journalism Award deadlines are fast approaching

The 2011 National Magazine Awards deadline has passed, but there are a number of other contests out there for magazine journalists with deadlines coming up soon:

1) The 2012 Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment is one of Canada’s most prestigious and lucrative journalism awards, open to non-fiction work focused principally on the environment and natural resources.

The purpose of the [Grantham] Prize is to encourage outstanding coverage of the environment, to recognize reporting that has the potential to bring about constructive change, and to broadly disseminate the Prize-winning story to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental and natural resource issues. Among the criteria jurors will consider are the significance of the subject matter, quality and originality of the journalism, the potential to effect constructive change, and the effort involved in telling the story

The deadline for the 2012 Grantham Prize is January 30, 2012 (entries must be postmarked by this date to be eligible).

2) The Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Emerging Science Journalism Award is aimed at journalism students and bestows one or two $2500 prizes to the best story pitch on the subject of scientific research at a Canadian institution (one that is funded by CFI).

If you’re a student in a journalism or science communications program in Canada, this is your chance to get creative and get funded to produce a compelling piece of science journalism.

The deadline for entries to the Emerging Science Journalism Award is February 7, 2012.

3) The Northern Lights Awards for Excellence in Travel Journalism are presented by the Canadian Tourism Commission, sponsored by Travel Alberta, judged by the Missouri School of Journalism, and awarded by the Canada Media Marketplace in San Francisco. There are awards in 5 categories for travel journalism about Canada.

The race is on for Canada’s Northern Lights Awards presented by the Canadian Tourism Commission and Sponsored by Travel Alberta. Through compelling headlines, stunning imagery and riveting descriptions, thousands of writers, photographers, producers and other media tell Canada’s story around the world. This is our chance to recognize your work as being one of the most influential and important motivators for all travellers.

The deadline for entries to the Northern Lights Awards is February 3, 2012.

NMA winner Andrew Cohen to speak at SAW City Debates in Ottawa

Author and professor Andrew Cohen — who won three National Magazine Awards in 1990 for the same article — will be one of the featured speakers at the SAW City Debates tomorrow night (January 25) at the Galerie SAW Gallery in Ottawa, following the screening of a new documentary, Urbanized, by filmmaker Gary Hustwit.

Cohen is currently a professor of journalism and international affairs at Carleton University and spent much of his thirty-year journalism career at the Ottawa Citizen, The Globe and Mail and the Financial Post.

In 1990 his feature article “That Bastard Trudeau” in Saturday Night won the National Magazine Awards for Investigative Journalism, Public Issues, and the President’s Medal as the best overall article of the year.

According to its website the SAW City Debates is an ongoing series meant to spark dialogue around the many important cultural issues affecting the national capital region. Presented in response to recent articles in the media criticizing Ottawa’s urban design, denouncing everything from the National Capital Commission’s apparent inertia to the reliance on developers in shaping our city, the first debate in this series will take a look at urban design successes and failures in this city, but more importantly will help generate ideas and visions for the future.

Tickets are available at the door. 7pm, Wednesday January 25 at Galerie SAW Gallery.

Award-winning illustrator Gary Taxali shows off coin collection

Renowned Canadian illustrator Gary Taxali — a twelve-time finalist and twice a winner of National Magazine Awards — has been commissioned by the Royal Canadian Mint to design a series of “Celebration Coins” for 2012.

There will be a viewing and cocktail reception at the Spoke Club in Toronto on Wednesday, January 25 at 6pm, open to club members and invited guests. Gary has also created a commemorative illustration for the occasion in his signature style, prints of which will be on sale at the reception.

Off the Page, with Jeremy Klaszus

Off the Page is an exclusive new series produced by the NMAF that reaches out to former National Magazine Award winners to find out what their awards have meant to them and what they’re up to now. Off the Page will appear regularly on the NMA blog during the winter and spring of 2012. This week we catch up with National Magazine Award-winning writer Jeremy Klaszus.

NMAF: In 2007 you won the award for Best New Magazine Writer (then known as the Alexander Ross Award) at the 30th anniversary National Magazine Awards. You’d written an investigative piece in AlbertaViews called “Big Oil on Trial” about a Canadian energy company and the Sudanese civil war. How did that piece come about for you and for AlbertaViews?

Jeremy: I was an intern at the magazine at the time. Somehow I heard of a lawsuit filed in the U.S., in which the company was being sued for complicity in genocide. As I looked into this, I was amazed that Alberta’s media (with a few exceptions) weren’t reporting on this case. That, to me, seemed like a story in itself, and that’s the angle I pursued. I filed Access to Information requests which gave information on how the federal government had tried to get the case thrown out of court.

AlbertaViews very graciously gave me the time to work on this story, and never once balked at the idea. It paid off.

NMAF: What has it meant for you personally and professionally to win that award (and your more recent NMA — a 2009 Gold prize in One of a Kind for “Mr. Tree,” a three-part biography of your grandfather’s life in Germany during World War II, also published in AlbertaViews)?

"Mr. Tree" by Jeremy Klaszus, AlbertaViews, April 2009

Jeremy: It’s funny how it all worked out. I was out of my element at the 2007 awards ceremony, a green Alberta writer among seasoned Toronto magazine types. It was all very intimidating. But I happened to be sitting at a table with Ian Pearson, who was at the time an editor at the Banff Centre’s literary journalism program. You should apply, he told me. I didn’t think I had a shot, but sure enough, I applied and got accepted. At the Banff Centre the following summer, I wrote “Mr. Tree,” working with editor Moira Farr. So when that story ended up winning an NMA, it was as if everything came full circle. It was all quite surreal.

Winning that NMA was especially rewarding because the story was quite personal. As well, the story had been rejected by numerous magazines before AlbertaViews picked it up. That fact made the win even more gratifying, and dulled the sting from those rejections.

NMAF: Where has your career taken you since then?

Jeremy: I have been freelancing for the past couple years. In 2010, I ghost wrote a memoir for legendary cowboy singer and rancher Ian Tyson (The Long Trail, published by Random House Canada). I suspect my NMAs might have helped me land that gig, as I don’t know one end of the horse from the other. At least when I drove out to Tyson’s ranch to meet him for the first time, terrified, I could point to the awards as proof that I could do the job.

These days, I do a lot of stuff for Swerve magazine based in Calgary. I write a regular column in the Calgary Herald. I’m working on something for Reader’s Digest. As well, I am a part-time journalism instructor at Mount Royal University.

Jeremy Klaszus’s new book, Mr. Tree, is available through Blurb books, and all profits are being donated to Médecins Sans Frontières. Read more about Jeremy at and at the NMAF’s Creators Profiles.

NMA submissions closed; Other awards for magazines still open

As of January 16, 2012 at 5pm ET the submissions window for the 35th anniversary National Magazine Awards is fully closed. Thanks to all who participated this year. The National Magazine Awards Foundation now moves into its judging season, as over 200 judges will evaluate this year’s trove of entries. The nominations for the National Magazine Awards will be revealed by May 1 and the winners at the annual NMA gala in Toronto on June 7.

Meanwhile, there are still a number of other Canadian magazine awards competitions that are accepting submissions for 2011 magazine publishing:

The Kenneth R. Wilson Awards — open to Canadian business-to-business publications — are accepting submissions for awards in 22 categories in this their 58th year. The deadline to submit is February 3, although the early-bird deadline is January 27. This year’s KRW awards gala will be held on June 7, 2012 in Toronto.

The Atlantic Journalism Awards competition has a submissions deadline of January 31. The competition is open to any journalist or news organization in Atlantic Canada whose entry was published or broadcast in an Atlantic Canadian media outlet during 2011. The AJA awards gala will be held on May 5, 2012 in Fredericton.

January 31 is also the deadline for submissions to the Alberta Magazine Awards. This is a celebration of the Alberta magazine industry, featuring Showcase Awards (new digital category) and Achievement Awards, cash prizes, and more. There are seven categories for this year’s competition, and the winners will be revealed at the 2012 Alberta Magazines Conference in Calgary on March 22.

And the 30th anniversary Western Magazine Awards will be accepting submissions starting on February 6, with a deadline of March 2. There are 30 categories this year — including a new one, a 30th category for the 30th year: Best Online Magazine — and the winners will be revealed on June 15 at the Western Magazine Awards gala at the Renaissance Harbourside Hotel in Vancouver.

In addition to these other magazine awards, the following awards competitions are accepting submissions/applications this month:

The Yves O. Fortier Award for Earth Science Journalism (deadline Jan 31).

The Multiple Sclerosis John Alexander Media Awards for print and broadcast media (deadline Jan 31).

Visit the Resources section of the NMAF website to find out about other awards for journalism in Canada.

Late Fee Deadline Today

Today, January 16, is the late-fee deadline for the National Magazine Awards. Entries may still be entered online until 5pm Eastern Time. All submissions arriving today as well as those that arrived after last Friday’s main deadline will be assessed a $25 late fee per entry. Submissions arriving after 5pm today will not be accepted.

Thank you for your participation in the 35th anniversary National Magazine Awards.

Off the Page, with Carol Shaben

Off the Page is an exclusive new series produced by the NMAF that reaches out to former National Magazine Award winners to find out what their awards have meant to them and what they’re up to now. Off the Page will appear regularly on the NMA blog during the winter and spring of 2012. This week we catch up with National Magazine Award-winning writer Carol Shaben.

NMAF: Your debut magazine article, “Fly at Your Own Risk” published in The Walrus, about the state of safety regulation in Canada’s airline industry, was a big hit at the 2009 National Magazine Awards, winning Gold in Investigative Reporting, Silver in Politics & Public Interest, and Honourable Mention in Best New Magazine Writer. How did you develop that story and find a home for it in The Walrus?

Carol Shaben: The issue of aviation safety came to my attention several years ago when I met the pilot involved in a 1984 small plane crash that killed six people. My father was one of four survivors.

The pilot told me that he hadn’t wanted to fly that stormy night, but as a twenty-four-year-old rookie struggling to work his way up in a competitive industry, he’d felt he had little choice. The crash ended his career and in the decade that followed he tried without success to improve airline safety.

I began investigating his story and discovered two staggering realities: 1) the situation hadn’t changed in a quarter century, and 2) the Canadian government was now trying to offload responsibility for aviation safety to airlines themselves. My research also unearthed tragic personal stories of loss resulting from small plane crashes that could have been prevented. In short, the Canadian government was failing to protect the travelling public when it came to airline safety.

The Walrus immediately came to mind as one of the few magazines where this story could be told in the depth and detail it required. The magazine has a reputation as one of the smartest and most rigorous investigative reporting venues in the country and has a crackerjack editorial team.

NMAF: How did it feel to win a National Magazine Award? What has it meant for you professionally and personally?

"Fly At Your Own Risk" by Carol Shaben (The Walrus, November 2009)

Carol: The impact of this award was stunning. Here I was, writing from an isolated basement office in Vancouver, and all of a sudden my work is being recognized nationally. Personally, it was an unbelievable affirmation that the sacrifices I’d made to leave a twenty-year corporate consulting career had been worth it. Professionally, it was a game changer. The NMA nominations provided me with an entrée into one of the country’s top literary agencies. I met with and acquired Jackie Kaiser of Westwood Creative Artists as my agent the day of the awards ceremony. In short, I believe that the recognition of the National Magazine Awards catapulted me from the ground floor of my writing profession to the penthouse suite.

NMAF: Where has your career in magazines/journalism taken you since then? 

Carol: The article that won the awards had been part of a larger story—one that I’d hoped to publish one day. However, both literary agents and publishers had rejected my previous attempts to “sell” that story. Days before the announcement of the 2009 National Magazine Awards nominations, I’d decided to give up on the book.

The NMA resurrected it. Three months after the awards, rights to publish my book sold to Random House Canada. Less than two weeks later Macmillan (UK) and Grand Central (US) also acquired publishing rights. I’ve spent the past year writing the book, titled Into the Abyss, which will be published in the fall of 2012.

Also exciting is the fact that major magazine editors have approached me to write articles. The opportunity to take advantage of the doors that have opened as a result of the National Magazine Awards is something I will gratefully look forward to in the future.

For more on Carol Shaben’s new book, watch this video of Random House Canada vice-president Anne Collins talking about Into the Abyss. Read Carol’s author bio at Westwood Creative Artists.

Tips for getting your NMA submissions in on time

[This post has been updated] The submissions deadline for the 2011 National Magazine Awards is Friday, January 13, 2012 at 5pm Eastern Time — in other words, very soon.

If you’re just getting started or worried that you won’t get everything in on time, here are a couple of quick tips:

1. Submit low- or medium-resolution PDFs. All entries require PDFs, but if you’re submitting a host of entries and trying to upload hi-res PDFs for each, it will take longer for you to complete steps 1 and 2 of the 4-step submissions process. Save valuable time by preparing PDFs with a smaller file size. UPDATE: Don’t worry about what to name your PDF file, as our system will automatically rename your file to match your Entry Form number.

2. Verify your Paypal account. If you choose to pay by credit card in Step 2, you will be forwarded to the Paypal site to enter your credit card information. Occasionally for payments larger than $1000 Paypal will hold the payment for verification if you don’t already have a pre-verified Paypal account associated with your credit card. If Paypal won’t process your payment due to an unverified account, you may return to Step 2 and select the option to pay by cheque.

3. Estimate the transit time. Don’t forget, your hard copies must reach our office by 5pm on Friday, so if you are not in Toronto you should prepare to send your hard-copy material by a reliable overnight courier service if the deadline is getting close. Even if you are in Toronto, make sure you give yourself or your courier plenty of time to reach our office. If your entries don’t get to us by 5pm on Friday, or if they arrive over the weekend or on Monday Jan 16, you will be assessed a late fee of $25 per entry.

4. Send your cheque next week. If you’ve elected to pay by cheque but your company can’t issue it in time, you should still submit all your hard-copy material by the deadline, with a note on your Master Form stating that the cheque will follow. When you send your cheque next week please staple it to an extra copy of your Master Form. Payment must be received by Friday January 20 or your entries may be disqualified.

5. Relax. If you’ve done everything right, completed the online forms and sent your hard-copy material in, don’t worry about a thing. We cannot verify that we’ve received your submission until after the deadline. Rest assured, if you don’t hear from us by the week following the deadline then you did a perfect job and your submission was received in good order.

Click here to log in and submit.

NMA Winners among Charles Taylor Prize finalists

The shortlist for the 11th annual Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction was announced yesterday, and of the five great authors in the running for the honour (and the $25,000 cash prize) several are National Magazine Award laureates.

Andrew Westoll, a 2007 winner in the Travel category for a feature article in explore, is nominated for his new book, The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary.

Charlotte Gill, shortlisted for her tree-planting memoir Eating Dirt, received an Honourable Mention at the 2007 National Magazine Awards for her writing in Vancouver Review.

Both Gill and Westoll are also in the running for the B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.

The full list and details of this year’s Charles Taylor finalists can be found here. The winner will be announced March 5.

The Walrus magazine launches HD television channel

The Walrus magazine, which has won more National Magazine Awards since its inception in 2003 than any other Canadian magazine, today launches its new WalrusTV channel, a joint venture with Toronto-based High Fidelity HDTV to produce short documentary films inspired by Walrus feature articles.

Explaining the bold venture to James Adams at The Globe and Mail, Walrus publisher Shelley Ambrose remarked simply that

“[W]ith respect to Walrus content, we need to be where people are or where they’re going. We can’t sit here and pull people to be towards us.”

And it’s not just the magazine itself that looks to benefit from this venture into new media; the many National Magazine Award-winning freelance writers and artists from The Walrus will hopefully benefit from the increased exposure to audiences for their work. That has to be good for all.

Deadline week at the National Magazine Awards

The submissions deadline for the 2011 National Magazine Awards is this Friday, January 13 at 5pm Eastern Time. If you plan to submit this year, you must complete the online application form for each of your entries (you must upload a PDF version of your entry), pay the required fees, and get all required hard-copy material to our office by Friday at 5pm.

Any entries that arrive after 5pm on Friday and up until Monday, January 16 will be assessed a $25 late fee per entry. Submissions will not be accepted after 5pm on Monday January 16.

Check out the categories, rules and frequently asked questions before you submit.

Also this week, a couple of other awards programs have deadlines:

The 2nd annual Canadian Hillman Prize for Investigative Reporting (deadline is today, Jan 9).
The National Newspaper Awards of Canada (deadline is tomorrow, Jan 10)

Kenneth R. Wilson Awards announce call for entries

The Kenneth R. Wilson Awards — Canada’s premier awards competition for business-to-business publications — announced a call for submissions today for its 58th annual awards.

The KRWs are open to all specialized business-to-business media written and produced in Canada in either English and/or French, regardless of association membership. There are 22 categories for written, visual and digital work, plus special categories for Best Cover, Best Issue and Magazine of the Year. There is a cash prize for each category.

The early-bird submissions deadline is January 27 (save $25 per entry), and the final deadline is February 3. Finalists will be announced on May 3 and the winners revealed at the Kenneth R. Wilson Awards gala on June 7. Visit for more information.

Off the Page, with Roxanna Bikadoroff

Off the Page is an exclusive new series produced by the NMAF that reaches out to former National Magazine Award winners to find out what their awards have meant to them and what they’re up to now. Off the Page will appear regularly on the NMA blog during the winter and spring of 2012. This week we catch up with National Magazine Award-winning illustrator Roxanna Bikadoroff.

NMAF: You won your first National Magazine Award for illustration back in 1991 for Saturday Night, and your most recent in 2009 for Vancouver Review. How did it feel to win that first award, and was it any different 18 years later?

Roxanna: Has it only been 18 years? Seems like lifetimes ago… In 1991, my career was just starting to take off. There were relatively few female illustrators working in edgy styles then, so I was also kind of ‘hot’ in that respect. Plus we were in a golden age when publications had money and were willing to let illustrators be more conceptual. So it was a very exciting time for me to receive this attention, accolades and whatnot. These days, it feels like an award is more something earned from years of experience and craft-honing. There is perhaps a level of respect that comes with having been around a while. It still means a lot, but in a different way.

Roxanna's Gold-winning 2009 illustration in Vancouver Review

NMAF: We’ve seen a lot of your artwork on the covers of books and in newspapers, as well as in magazines such as The New Yorker, The Walrus, Cottage Life, Maclean’s and others. What is unique or special for you about working as an illustrator with magazines?

Roxanna: It depends on the magazine and the article. Illustrating for magazines is like being in a partnership; sometimes, the illustration is like a dutiful wife who has to make her less exuberant husband look good, other times it’s a challenge to rise to the excellence of the prose or at least do it justice. It’s always a relationship of some sort between the two.

With book covers, the primary function of the image is to sell books. Still, I’ve always tried to be faithful to the writing, which is why, in some cases, my work has been associated with certain writers (Flannery O’Connor and Angela Carter).

NMAF: Where will we see your work next? Are you hoping to continue working in Canadian magazines?

Roxanna: I’ve really only worked for a handful of magazines over the last several years, due to changes in both the publishing industry and my own art practice. Illustration is still my first love and I’ll probably never stop doing it entirely, but it’s been taking new forms and I’m just letting it. I currently have several, longer-term projects in the works, which involve painting, mixed media, writing… maybe teaching. It’s nice to feel things are new again, even if it’s not the most art-friendly climate in our country right now.

You can view Roxanna’s latest creative work on her blogs rbgalleriemystique and AstroTarology. Samples of her illustrations for magazines, books and others can be found at

National Magazine Awards named one of top events of 2011

Once again the annual National Magazine Awards gala has been named one of BizBash’s Top 100 Toronto events. The 2011 NMA gala — the 34th annual event to celebrate excellence in Canadian magazine publishing — was held on June 10, 2011 at The Carlu, where Gold and Silver awards and Honourable Mentions were handed down in written, visual, integrated, digital and special categories. [Full list of winners]

Though there appears to be some confusion in BizBash’s reporting — the NMA gala did not, as reported on BizBash’s website, return to Toronto from Montreal last year, as the gala has long been held in Toronto — the National Magazine Awards Foundation is honoured to be included on this list of great events of 2011.

This year’s National Magazine Awards gala — the 35th anniversary of the NMAs — will be held on June 7, 2012. Submissions for this year’s awards are now being accepted, with a deadline of January 13.

Related post: “Magazines Matter” video now available…