10 Great Reasons to Enter #NMA21

Since 1977, the National Media Awards Foundation has been recognizing excellence in the content and creation of Canadian magazines. Each year, the Foundation grants more than $60,000 in prize money to award-winning writers, illustrators, photographers, and other creators, and bestows the honour and industry recognition of a National Magazine Award to the publishers, editors, art directors and other staff of more than 70 nominated publications.

And although that may be reason enough to enter, many previous winners are happy to give us more.

Here are 10 other reasons why you should consider entering the annual National Magazine Awards:

1. New Readers

Award-winning magazines attract new readers who are hungry for great stories.

2. Bragging Rights

Be able to tell your readers that you are delivering the best and most credible content, recognized by your peers in the magazine industry.

3. Get Noticed

With a National Magazine Award, writers, and artists find new audiences for their creative work and talent. In 2020, our virtual gala saw over nine thousand viewers!

4. Book Deal? 

Publishers take notice of award-winning work, and a National Magazine Award could be a step towards launching a book project or signing with an agent.

5. Find Your Next Job

Award-winning writers are better able to find new editors and publishers interested in their work.

6. Promote Your Innovations

Magazines are growing, and we’re growing with them. The NMAF recognizes achievement in digital content creation and all other enterprising magazine journalism. In fact, this year we’ve introduced an exciting cross-programming initiative, encouraging NMA participants to submit their work to seven additional categories. All entries will compete among those submitted to the Digital Publishing Awards (DPA) and National Magazine Awards: B2B (NMA) programs, and winners will be announced across all three programs—this means that your work will reach an even wider audience!

7. Build Your Confidence

Freelancing is one of the most challenging pursuits for an artist or journalist, and sometimes even lonely. Awards and nominations are benchmarks of progress. (To help out you hard-working freelancers, we offer a Freelancer Support Fund).

8. Celebrate Your Creators

Editors, publishers and art directors have the opportunity to reward the creative talent that helps their magazines sell copies and connect with readers. We’re proud to offer a Small Magazine Rebate, which ensures that the awards represent a broad range of Canadian publications.

9. Even a Nomination is a Celebration

We all start at the beginning, and just getting our work out there, and getting it noticed, is a step on the path to success. Plus, all entries are read by our roster of top-notch Canadian and international judges. (Take a look at the amazing individuals who judged for #NMA20!)

10. Believe in What We Do

After all, magazines are the medium of creativity, passion, and a deep engagement with our readers.

Ready to submit an entry to the 2021 National Magazine Awards? Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s submission requirements, and here’s the link to our online portal. Keep in mind that the the early bird deadline is January 21, 2021 and final deadline is January 28, 2021 at midnight (ET). We can’t wait to receive your work!

Why should young writers and artists enter the NMAs?

Few moments at the annual National Magazine Awards (NMA) gala are as satisfying as discovering which talented up-and-comers are named Canada’s Best Emerging Writer. This category (previously named “Best New Magazine Writer”) recognizes an individual’s early work in Canadian magazines that shows the highest degree of craft and promise. It’s open to students and writers with a maximum three years’ experience in professional journalism, and who have never been nominated for a National Magazine Award, Digital Publishing Award, or National Magazine Award: B2B (see the full requirements here).

Individuals may enter their own work, but editors, colleagues, or mentors are encouraged to nominate the talented young writers they’ve worked with, or even discovered.

Here are just a few reasons we think emerging creators might want to enter this category, and other NMA categories.


Right now, and until January 21, 2021, the early-bird rate is in effect! You’ll save $25 on entry fees and, because the National Media Awards Foundation (NMAF) is a registered charity, fees paid for submissions may be tax-deductible.

If you submit after January 21, you can still take advantage of the Freelancer Support Fund! This fund is available to anyone who is not a staff member of a publication whose work they are submitting, and whose byline appears on the work they are submitting. Check out the full details here, and make sure to submit by the final deadline of January 28, 2021 at midnight (ET).


Students are encouraged to submit, and the awards are open to work published in college and university magazines as well as any other eligible Canadian magazine.


While there is only one entry allowed per person for the Best Emerging Writer category, there is no limit to the number of submissions from a single publication. Freelancers, and emerging writers, are also encourages to submit to categories like Fiction, Poetry, Essays, Personal Journalism, and so many more.


The winner of each category will be announced at the 44th annual National Magazine Awards celebration. In 2020, our gala pivoted from an in-person event (with more than 300 of Canada’s top magazine publishers, editors, writers, and art directors) to a virtual livestream that saw over 9000 viewers. Freelancers and emerging creators will reap the benefits of this huge leap in virtual reach!

Winning work (and nominees) will also be promoted in NMAF publications, press releases, promotional campaigns — anything and everything we can do to celebrate emerging creative talent in our industry.


Got a Gold award in a creator-focused category? That medal also comes with a $1000 cash prize, and the right to call yourself a National Magazine Award winner in every bio for the rest of your life!


The winner of Best Emerging Writer joins a group of award laureates that includes Kate Black, Max Binks-Collier, Jessica Rose, Amorina Kingdon, Desmond Cole, Genna Buck, Catherine McIntyre, Sierra Skye Gemma, Liam Casey, and Matthieu Aikins. Check out the full list of incredible creators here.


Nominations and wins translate to financial support, career growth, and recognition from industry professionals—all of the ingredients freelancers and young creators need to build a robust career in Canadian media and publishing.

Check out what these creators have to say about the impact of winning an NMA:


The greatness of Canadian magazines is sustained by the talented, innovative and dynamic young people who love what they do and work hard to do it. At the NMAs we, like the rest of the Canadian magazine industry, want to recognize and celebrate this. We can’t do it without you.

So, round up your best work from 2020, and enter #NMA21!

Call for Entries: 44th Annual National Magazine Awards

Submissions for the 44th annual NMAs are now open! Canadian content creators and magazines are eligible to submit entries across 29 categories (plus the Magazine Grand Prix and the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement) with Gold winners in Writing & Visual categories receiving a $1000 cash prize.

For 2021, there are also seven additional categories that are part of a new, cross-programming initiative with the Digital Publishing Awards and the National Magazine Awards: B2B. We invite NMA participants to enter their best work in these categories:

For 2021, there are also seven additional categories that are part of a new, cross-programming initiative with the Digital Publishing Awards and the National Magazine Awards: B2B. We invite NMA participants to enter their best work in these categories:

  • Best Editorial Newsletter
  • Best Podcast: News and Politics
  • Best Podcast: Arts and Culture
  • Best Online Video: Short
  • Best Online Video: Feature
  • Best Online Video: Mini-Doc
  • Best Virtual Event

For this initiative, all entries will be evaluated by a single panel of judges, and winners will be announced across all three programs. Full details on the categories and submission requirements are here.

To save on fees, get your entries in by the early bird deadline of January 21, 2021. The final submissions deadline is January 28, 2021.

Freelancer Support Fund

Our Freelancer Support Fund allows independent writers and creators to buy one entry and get one free. Please note that the Fund applies to two entries for Writing & Visual categories only.

Small Magazine Rebate

Our Small Magazine Rebate allows magazines whose annual revenue is $200,000 or buy two entries for the price of one. The rebate operates on a first come, first served basis, so please apply early to ensure your magazine gets its free entry!

How to Submit

  1. Review the Categories, Rules and Submission Requirements
  2. Register online at https://submissions.magazine-awards.com/login
  3. Enter the details of each submission
  4. Pay the required entry fees

Please note that, in response to the challenges of this COVID-19 era, no hard copies are required this year. All entry materials can be uploaded to our online portal.

Download our Guide to the 44th National Magazine Awards for a handy reference to categories, criteria, submissions guidelines, rules, deadlines and more.


  • NMA Early Bird Deadline: January 21, 2021
  • NMA Final Deadline: January 28, 2021

Please note that the deadline to nominate a colleague for the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement is March 2, 2021. Applications can be uploaded to our submission portal up until January 28, 2021. After that, please direct all applications to staff@magazine-awards.com.

Digital Publishing Awards

Canadian digital publishers and creators are invited to enter the 6th annual Digital Publishing Awards! The 2021 DPA lineup offers 25 exciting categories, including the Emerging Excellence Award and the Digital Publishing Leadership Award.

National Magazine Awards: B2B

Do you have some excellent business-to-business content from 2020? Enter it in the 3rd annual National Magazine Awards: B2B! There is a $500 cash prize for winners in creator-focused categories, and 18 categories to choose from this year, including the B2B Leadership Award.

Ready to Submit?

Click here to get started.

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Categories Announced for the 44th National Magazine Awards

The National Media Awards Foundation is pleased to announce the lineup of categories for the 2021 National Magazine Awards. Our program for 2021 features 29 categories, plus two special awards and seven additional categories that are part of a new, cross-programming initiative.

Writing & Visual Awards:

  1. Long-Form Feature Writing: 6000+
  2. Long-Form Feature Writing
  3. Feature Writing
  4. Short Feature Writing
  5. Columns
  6. Essays
  7. Investigative Reporting
  8. Fiction
  9. Personal Journalism
  10. Poetry
  11. Profiles
  12. Service Journalism
  13. Best Emerging Writer
  14. Illustration (incl. Spot & Photo Illustration)
  15. Portrait Photography
  16. Lifestyle Photography
  17. Photo Essay & Journalism
  18. One of a Kind Storytelling

Editorial Awards:

  1. Art Direction of a Single Article
  2. Best Editorial Package
  3. Art Direction Grand Prix
  4. Editor Grand Prix
  5. Cover Grand Prix
  6. Issue Grand Prix
  7. Publisher Grand Prix

Grand Prix: Best Magazine Awards

  1. Best Magazine: News, Business, General Interest
  2. Best Magazine: Service & Lifestyle
  3. Best Magazine: Art, Literary, Culture
  4. Best Magazine: Special Interest

Special Awards:

  • Magazine Grand Prix
  • Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement

Additional Categories

New for 2021, we encourage NMA participants to submit their work to the following categories, which will compete among those submitted to the Digital Publishing Awards and National Magazine Awards: B2B programs. For this cross-programming initiative, all entries will be evaluated by a single panel of judges, and winners will be announced across all three programs. For more information, please see our rules.

  • Best Editorial Newsletter
  • Best Podcast: News and Politics
  • Best Podcast: Arts and Culture
  • Best Online Video: Short
  • Best Online Video: Feature
  • Best Online Video: Mini-Doc
  • Best Virtual Event

The NMAF will present the winners of the 44th National Magazine Awards in spring 2021. If you’re interested in submitting to the 2021 NMAs, please note that the call for entries opens on December 21, 2020 and closes on January 28, 2021. To save on fees, get your entries in by the early bird deadline of January 21, 2021.

We have also made a change to our submission requirements in response to the challenges surrounding COVID-19.

Our Freelancer Support Fund and Small Magazine Rebate will be available once again this year, ensuring that the National Magazine Awards recognize the best work from a broad range of Canadian creators and magazines.

Call for Judges: 44th Annual National Magazine Awards

The National Media Awards Foundation is now welcoming applications for judges for the National Magazine Awards, Digital Publishing Awards, and the National Magazine Awards: B2B.

Ideal candidates should meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Internationally renowned journalist, editor, designer or other expert with an interest in supporting the NMAF fulfill its mission;
  • Editor, art director, publisher, web editor or other staff member (past or present) of a Canadian magazine, whether or not your publication participates in the National Magazine Awards, Digital Publishing Awards, or National Magazine Awards: B2B;
  • Freelance or staff writer, illustrator, photographer or digital creator, where a significant portion of your work is in Canadian publications (especially if you have been nominated for or won a National Magazine Award, Digital Publishing Award, or National Magazine Award: B2B yourself);
  • Journalist (print, broadcast, digital) with expertise in a particular field represented by one or more NMA, DPA, or NMA: B2B categories (such as photojournalism, service, arts & culture, fiction, poetry, etc);
  • Academic or industry leader with expertise in a particular field;
  • Professionals and leaders from related cultural sectors, including the visual arts (film and television), the literary arts (book writing & publishing) and the performing arts (theatre, music);
  • Bilingual: Not all of our judges need be bilingual, but all awards juries will have at least one bilingual member.

We welcome applications from individuals who bring different industry perspectives – from recognized leaders to celebrated emerging talents. We also aim for the judging panels to reflect our country’s diverse Indigenous, cultural, and regional communities.

Judging will take place during February and March 2021. For more information, or to nominate a peer to the jury, contact us at staff@magazine-awards.com.

Applicants, please include in your email: a short biography of yourself, a headshot, your preferred category (if any), what languages you are comfortable judging in (English, French or both), your contact information, and whether or not you are currently on the masthead of a publication.

We’re proud to have had some of the finest Canadian journalists and experts serve on our past juries.

The National Magazine Awards have been a major component in the growth of my writing career, and I am inestimably grateful not just for their financial support, but for the recognition from my peers and idols which they represent. Adjudicating the Best Personal Journalism category in 2020 was a deep dive into the breadth and depth of Canada’s masters of the form at the absolute state of the art of contemporary writing, for which I am immensely grateful. It made me a sharper reader, and a sharper writer.  — Anthony Oliveirawriter and culture critic for Hazlitt, and PhD with the University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.

It was such an enriching experience to be a judge for the NMAs. Being able to appreciate the work of my peers, and discuss their work with the other judges, made me feel like even more a part of the literary community that has supported and nourished me. — Alicia Elliottaward-winning Tuscarora writer from Six Nations of the Grand River, Brantford, ON.

Getting your hands on a B2B magazine can be tricky if you don’t belong to a particular profession. As an NMA: B2B judge, I had the pleasure of reading new publications and discovering the rich journalistic and artistic talent behind them. — Luc Rinaldisenior editor, Pivot magazine, Toronto, ON.

I enjoy the process because it gives me the opportunity to contribute both individually and collectively. Entering my own scores for each entry validates the time I spend reviewing and assessing each submission; discussing my assessments with the other judges during our conference call provides the opportunity to weigh the value of those assessments against the opinions of other industry experts and (on occasion) to argue in favour of work which I feel may have been undervalued.
Dawn Chafe, executive editor, Atlantic Business Magazine, St. John’s, NL.

It’s a great honour to judge the NMAs and see some of the best magazine work happening in Canada. I love editorial design and it’s wonderful when some of the winning entries are small, independent publications that understand great design is integral to their success. — Fidel Peñacreative director and co-founder of Underline Studio, Toronto, ON.

Judging the NMAs allows you to keep tabs on industry leaders, validate someone’s hard work, and boost a worthy talent’s own career. It’s also an easy way to give back to a community that has given all of us so much.
Arjun Basu, senior vice president, Product at Bookmark Content and Communications, Montreal, QC.

The NMAs focus on creators, the people who are create the work that makes everything else possible. Given all of the challenges that creators face in earning a living, participating in a process that recognizes and rewards their efforts is, I think, important and valuable work.
Kim Pittaway, former editor, Chatelaine, and journalism teacher, Dartmouth, NS.

Serving as a judge for the National Magazine Awards, which I have done for at least ten years, is always a highlight of my reading year. It’s like receiving an engaging anthology of great writing by exciting emerging writers, masterful old pros, and hidden treasures. And you get the honour of choosing the best of a wonderful bunch! What could possibly be better?
Stephen Trumper, writer, editor, teacher, volunteer, Toronto, ON.

 I think the NMAs themselves are a valuable measure of the accomplishments of Canadian magazine writers and editors. As to the process, we were given sufficient time and a workable structure both leading up to and in the conversation itself. My fellow judges offered interesting insights into the work considered and the process was both engaged and congenial.
Kim Jernigan, former editor, The New Quarterly, Waterloo, ON.

 Volunteering as a judge with the National Media Awards was a great experience, it really gave me a chance to see the depth and variety of voices being published in Canadian magazines right now, this flourishing of diverse perspectives and thoughts make right now a very exciting time for Canadian media. — Ossie Michelinaward-winning Inuk journalist and activist from the community of North West River, Labrador.

 Having been involved since the 1980s, as a board member, president (1991) a member of a special review committee (Strategic Speculation) and a frequent judge, I have a real investment in the event. What I like most of all is the emphasis the awards have nurtured of rewarding the effort of individual creators (rather than the publications, which get to bask in the reflected glory anyway.) Some no longer seem to value, or understand, this. But it is one of the things which makes the MagAwards special.
D.B. Scott, publisher, Canadian Magazines blog, Cambridge, ON.