The National Magazine Awards Foundation is all about celebrating Canadian creators and storytellers. Our mission is to recognize excellence in magazine writing and art production.
At the NMAF we tip our hats to the storytellers who skilfully fill the pages of Canadian magazines and to do this there’s a lot of hard work that happens behind the scenes. This year 232 judges volunteered their time and expertise in evaluating submissions from across the country for our 39th annual National Magazine Awards program.
In addition, our Board of Directors and staff members dedicate themselves year-round to the recognition of Canadian magazine creators. In this second instalment of our Portrait Series: National Magazine Awards Storytellers – Behind the Scenes Edition, we’re featuring the people who make the NMAs possible. They’ve also told us why they’re proud to be a part of our awards program and what our judges are looking for in an NMA-award-winning piece.
“I know firsthand how much of a magazine writer’s life is anonymous toil, often for nowhere near enough pay, and how rare it is to find just the right story, editor and outlet to produce something truly transcendent despite it all. That’s why it was such a joy to get to be the person to say ‘The winner is’ before so many deserving names this year. It was like being Santa Claus at freelance Christmas!”
“Magazine writers practice “immersion journalism;” we immerse ourselves in our subjects for multiple weeks or months, sometimes longer, to record the depth and breadth of things, trying to the best of our abilities to understand things in all their complexity. This American Life’s Ira Glass has said that when you read a well-told story “you feel inherently as if you are on a train that has a destination.” The engineer on that train is the writer who organizes and synthesizes all those facts and stats and anecdotes and quotes and scenes into a dramatic narrative that takes readers on a voyage of discovery.”
“For almost 40 years the National Magazine Awards have been a kind of annual compendium of great Canadian stories. What I love most of all about working with the NMAs is fulfilling the twin roles of recognizing current stories and storytellers, and inspiring new ones. Our stories are a grand mosaic of our culture, and for publishers, creators and judges alike, this is why, I think, the National Magazine Awards continue to have so much value.”
“Anything in terms of taking a risk and getting the story (makes for great storytelling); risks in terms of on-scene reporting and even risks in terms of how you tell the story, the structure of the piece as well as what details you decide to pick to show in the scene. (Another successful risk is in) finding someone to talk, someone who would trust you enough to tell you their story, even whistleblowers who will tell you their part of the story; that’s always tough to do. ”
“Reading a magazine is really like travelling; it’s like an adventure, an exploration and there are moments when you pause and moments maybe when you run and other moments when you read really slow — there’s a flow to the book and when the flow is nice then you are always comfortable. You actually sense it when you’re comfortable in it, because it takes you along. Like, it’s taking me by the hand and I’m just following them and that’s really an art form when they are successful.”
“I think the NMAs have an important job in celebrating Canadian excellence and in some ways helping the world recognize that we have outstanding talent in this country. I think the awards help the creators themselves set their own level and aspirations and hold themselves and their colleagues to a higher standard.”
“Singling out and recognizing great work elevates all of us. When I can take examples of what’s happening in our industry from our peers back to my team, they get inspired, they get ideas and they set their own bar higher. Recognition isn’t everything, but it is important.”
To learn more about the award winners and nominees from the 2016 awards program, please visit magazine-awards.com. You can read the biographies of this year’s awards program judges here and can view a list of our Board of Directors and Staff here. To follow this photo series on social media, you can find the NMAF on Instagram (nationalmagazineawards) or on Twitter@MagAwards.
Credit: photos taken by Steve Goetz; interviews conducted by Melissa Myers.
Full Coverage of the 39th National Magazine Awards
Complete articles of all nominees and winners
Complete list [pdf] of all nominees and winners
Full text of Kim Pittaway’s speech
Thank You to our Sponsors & Partners