Forty years ago a gentleman by the name of Andrew MacFarlane, who was Dean of Journalism at the University of Western Ontario, set about building a coalition of institutions to form the foundation of what would become the National Magazine Awards. The goal was to create a truly national program that would recognize individual excellence in the many aspects of the magazine industry.
Forty years later that legacy has endured. As one creator told me, winning a National Magazine Award is regarded as the pinnacle of professional achievement in our industry.
Friday evening we will welcome many of Canada’s top creators to the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards to recognize the phenomenal achievements of this year’s nominees and winners. As we pay tribute to the outstanding effort, professionalism, and raw talent of the individual creators, it is also a celebration of the broader magazine community and a nod to the people who trained the winners, mentored them, inspired them, gave them opportunities and, in many cases, took a chance on them. Our ability to nurture great Canadian creators reflects on us all.
It would have been hard for the NMAs’ founders to imagine the changes faced by the magazine industry in recent years and the impact that technology and data would play. Consumer audiences are being asked to be more savvy about the source and integrity of the media they consume, and there has never been so much competition for their time. But the principles of quality journalism and compelling art endure. All the while, magazines and the craftspeople who create them have been at the forefront of our society and culture. The diversity and breadth of this year’s nominees are a tribute to the role they play as the tastemakers, opinion-formers, trendsetters, style-shapers, curators, investigators, and artists who help to shape our national narrative and our identities as Canadians.
On the topic of change, this year’s program represents a significant renewal for the NMAs. In response to our industry consultation, we revised the categories to be much more focused on the craft that goes into creating work for a magazine and less focused on the subject matter. This enabled us to reduce the number of awards by 30 percent (making winning one an even tougher feat!). Although, with 25 awards, we still have almost double the 14 that were presented in 1977! Among other changes we have introduced, it’s exciting to think that the winners tonight were judged in part by judges from Yellowknife to St. John’s, San Francisco to New York, London to Paris—proudly elevating Canadian work on the global stage.
An enormous thank you to our sponsors and the hundreds of people who have helped bring this year’s awards to life, from the entrants to the volunteer judges and the board of directors. I’d like to add special thanks to the NMAF executive team who bring such rigour and passion to making the awards happen—Barbara Gould, Richard Johnson, Émilie Pontbriand, Leah Jensen, and Krista Robinson.
Enjoy the show! If you can’t join us, follow all the action on Twitter @MagAwards.
Nino Di Cara