A Short History of the National Magazine Awards


For 40 years the National Magazine Awards have honoured Canada’s most outstanding and memorable writers, artists, stories, and publications. It all began in 1976, when Andrew MacFarlane, dean of journalism at the University of Western Ontario, established a working group towards the creation of a National Magazine Awards. He was joined by John S. Crosbie, president of the Magazine Association of Canada; Michael de Pencier, publisher of Toronto Life; Roger de la Garde, dean of journalism at Université Laval; Alan Edmunds, head of the Periodical Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), and others. The rest is history.
As we get ready to celebrate the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards on Friday May 26 [Tickets] [Nominees], here’s a quick look at some of our most enduring memories…
 

1977

Michael de Pencier in the 1970s. Photo credit: Harold Barkley / Getty Images via Toronto Life

The National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF) receives its charter of non-profit foundation status from the Province of Ontario. Michael de Pencier, then the publisher of Toronto Life, is named the first president of the board of the directors. The NMAF establishes 14 categories, and more than 60 magazines submit 1377 entries. The submission fee is $10 per entry.

  • Among the 62 judges of the first National Magazine Awards were Joan Fraser (later a senator), author and essayist George Woodcock, and Adrienne Clarkson, then a CBC journalist, later the Governor General.

 

1978

Pierre Berton. Photo credit: CBC Archives

Pierre Berton hosts the first National Magazine Awards gala at the Hotel Toronto. Berton proclaims to the audience, “In a bold departure from tradition, there are to be no thank you speeches. We can do that because we are giving money, not some cheap statuette.” Harrowsmith (English) and L’actualité (French) win Magazine of the Year. Roy MacGregor (English) and Louise Coté (French) win the President’s Medals for the best overall article.

  • Image courtesy Town of Huntsville; photo illustration by Vessy Stroumsky

    The University of Western Ontario donated the original President’s Medals. From 1978 until 2001, the NMAF bestowed the President’s Medal upon the top overall magazine story of the year. Roy MacGregor’s original President’s Medal now resides in the Canada Summit Centre Sports Memorabilia Collection in the Town of Huntsville, Ontario.

Magazine types really know how to party.
Toronto Sun headline, following the first NMA gala

 

1979

Weekend Magazine, under the art direction of Robert Priest, wins the National Magazine Award for Best Cover, depicting a bloody image of the controversial baby seal hunt. Weekend Magazine, founded in 1951, wins 5 NMAs in 1979 before folding later that year.

 

1980

B.C. journalist Silver Donald Cameron wins the gold medal for Culture Writing, for a literary essay on author Farley Mowat published in Atlantic Insight.

 

1981

Photojournalist Nigel Dickson wins the first of his six NMA gold medals for a photo essay of the drought in the Canadian Prairies—one of the worst on record—published in Maclean’s.
 

1982

Jean Paré. Photo: Ordre national du Québec

At the fifth anniversary NMAs gala, legendary Quebec journalist Jean Paré wins the gold medal in Comment (later Columns) for L’actualité. From 1977 to 2009, Paré was nominated for 22 National Magazine Awards, winning 11. In 1996 he was the recipient of the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement.

  • Jean Paré founded the weekly news magazine L’actualité in 1976 after three years as deputy editor of Maclean’s.

 

1983


Margaret Atwood wins the silver medal in Travel Writing, for “The Five Faces of Mexico,” published in Quest magazine. Quest, then under the editorship of the famously bespectacled and bow-tied Michael Enright, would fold a year later after winning 14 National Magazine Awards since 1978.

  • Margaret Atwood has won 3 National Magazine Awards (in Poetry, Travel Writing, and Environmental Journalism). She’s been nominated 3 times in Fiction but never won.

 

1984

Sylvia Barrett Wright wins her first of two gold medals in the category Science, Technology & the Environment for Equinox magazine (the other came in 1988). She becomes the first woman to win gold in this category. From 1984-2016 only eight women won the gold medal in Science, Technology & the Environment, including Noémi Mercier (also twice) and Margaret Atwood.

  • Vancouver Magazine, under veteran editor Mac Parry, won Magazine of the Year at the 1985 NMA gala. Originally known as Dick McLean’s Greater Vancouver Greeter Guide, VanMag was also briefly known as Vancouver’s Leisure Magazine before the current, simple title took hold in 1973.

 

1985

P.K. Page. Photo: Wikicommons

The poet Patricia Kathleen “P.K.” Page wins the National Magazine Award for poetry, for a suite of poems published in The Malahat Review. From 1944 under her death in 2010 at the age of 93, Page published more than three dozen books of poetry, prose, and children’s literature.

  • Since 1978 The Malahat Review has won 28 National Magazine Awards for fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.

 

1986

Saturday Night art director Louis Fishauf wins both the gold and silver medals in Art Direction of a Single Article. Since 1979 Fishauf has been nominated for over 30 National Magazine Awards for his work in Saturday Night, The City, City Woman, Executive Magazine, T.O. Magazine, and Toronto Life.

My dream, when I was a young writer starting out, was to one day write for Saturday Night magazine. I pitched them ideas, to no avail, until one day in 2005 an editor emailed me out of the blue. I squeaked into one of their very last issues, and I still miss what Saturday Night stood for: a space of serious (but not too serious) intellectual engagement and storytelling as good as any in the world.
– Deborah Campbell, author and 3-time National Magazine Award winner

 

1987

At the tenth anniversary National Magazine Awards, graphic artist Simon Ng wins both gold and silver in Best Illustration, for work in Canadian Business and Toronto magazine. Blair Dawson and Gracia Lam are the only other illustrators to accomplish that double.

  • CBC “Morningside” host Peter Gzowski emceed the NMA gala for the second time (he also hosted in 1979 and for a final time in 1991) at the 10th anniversary gala in 1987, where Report on Business won Magazine of the Year.

 

1988

Elaine Dewar’s “The Mysterious Reichmanns: The Untold Story” (Toronto Life) wins the President’s Medal for best article (it also wins the gold medal for Investigative Journalism and Illustration). The Reichmann family, known for their real estate empire, had sued Dewar and Toronto Life for libel, for $102 million.

  • According to a contemporary story in the Ryerson Review of Journalism, in a show of journalistic support at that year’s NMA gala, “virtually everyone in the Grand Ballroom at Toronto’s Sheraton Centre stood up and cheered when [Dewar’s] victories were announced.”

 

1989

Photo courtesy James Ireland

James Ireland wins the National Magazine Award for Art Direction of a Single Magazine Article, for Canadian Art. Over a 40-year career designing magazines like Report on BusinessToronto LifeCanadian BusinessMaclean’sCanadian Art, U of T Magazine, Chatelaine, and many more, Ireland was one of the most celebrated and admired art directors in Canada. In 1997 the NMAF presented him with its Outstanding Achievement Award.

The art staff at The Canadian magazine were known for taking long liquid lunches each Friday. Every now and then the publisher of the magazine would wander through the art department around 2pm to make sure we were all back at our desks. One Friday morning, one of the artists, Harry Shepherd, took some foam board and magic markers, and cut out full-sized, silhouette likenesses of each designer. He slumped them over their drawing boards with scalpels in hand so they looked hard at work. The strong backlight from the windows made them look very convincing—it was spectacular! We all had to work late that night.
– James Ireland

 

1990

The Idler wins its first National Magazine Award (for Best Cover). Writing in The Globe and Mail in 2007, novelist and NMA winner Russell Smith remarked of The Idler: It was “a bit like The Walrus, but more eccentric and unpredictable, and with less reporting and more reflection. It was an elegant, brilliant and often irritating thing, proudly pretentious and nostalgic, written by philosophers, curmudgeons, pedants, intellectual dandies.”

One night, long ago, when I was still an undergraduate student at U of T, I found myself at The Idler pub. Upstairs, I knew, were the offices of the magazine by the same name. That night, a bunch of journos and thinkers of various stripes sat around a long table, arguing and drinking the night away. When I fantasize about magazine journalism, my thoughts often drift back to that: a great watering hole, the exchange of ideas, and writers retreating upstairs to put some of those ideas into words.
Alison Motluk, 5-time National Magazine Award winner

  • The Idler won Magazine of the Year in 1992 and then folded a year later.

 

1991

West Magazine wins Magazine of the Year at the National Magazine Awards, hosted for the third and final time by Pierre Berton. The magazine then folds later that year.

  • Magazines come and magazines go. Other magazines that folded the year they won a National Magazine Award: The Canadian (1979); Weekend Magazine (1979); Quest (1984); City Woman (1985); T.O. Magazine (1989); Vista (1990); Domino (1991); The Idler (1993); City & Country Home (1994); Destinations (1994); Shift (2003) Elm Street (2004); Saturday Night (2005); Toro (2007); unlimited (2008); More (2012); The Grid (2014).

 

1992

At the 15th anniversary NMA gala, Andrew Cohen of Saturday Night wins 3 medals, including the President’s Medal, for his profile of the former Prime Minister called “That Bastard Trudeau.”

  • Singer-songwriter Nancy White, of CBC fame, hosted the 15th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto.

 

1993

Paul Quarrington. Image credit: Wikicommons

Paul Quarrington wins his first of two consecutive NMA gold medals in Humour, for Harrowsmith magazine (he would later win a third humour award for Outdoor Canada). The beloved novelist, playwright, musician, and magazine writer passed away in 2010, shortly after writing his final memoir, Cigar Box Banjo: Notes on Music and Life.

  • At the 1993 NMAs Yann Martel, later the author of The Life of Pi, won the gold medal in Fiction for a story in The Malahat Review.

 

1994

The One-of-a-Kind category makes its NMA debut, celebrating magazine writing whose style or content is so unique it just can’t be classified into any other category. Zoe Landale, writing in Saturday Night, wins the first gold medal.

  • Toronto Life won 5 straight gold medals in One-of-a-Kind from 2001-2006, but The Walrus has won the last 4 heading into 2017. Check out this year’s nominees.

 

1995

Catherine Keachie, the long-time president of the Canadian Magazine Publishers’ Association, is presented with the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement. Keachie was also an instructor of journalism at Ryerson University and today the program offers an annual scholarship in her memory.

In order for us to make the case for how Canadian magazines mattered, Catherine knew that it was essential for the industry to work together. The major publishers needed the cultural legitimacy of the small and literary publishers. The smalls and literaries needed the financial and political heft of the bigs… Catherine’s words have guided me throughout my career, and her passion for the possibility of what the many talented people in this industry can accomplish together continues to inspire me.
Kim Pittaway, on Catherine Keachie’s inspiration to her career, from Kim’s acceptance speech at the 2016 NMAs

 

1996

For the only time in its history, the NMAs present an award for best Display Writing, at a gala hosted for the first time by Ian Brown. Vancouver Magazine wins the award, but the category is discontinued the following year.

  • In 2008 Julia Belluz won the NMA Best Student Writer Award for her profile of Ian Brown in the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

 

1997

Photo Edward Burtynsky 

Edward Burtynsky wins the gold medal in Photojournalism for his famous “Tailings” series—highlighting the environmentally degrading waste produced by heavy industry—published in Canadian Art.
 

1998

Hosting the NMA gala for the second consecutive year, Massey College master John Fraser presents the Outstanding Achievement Award to former Saturday Night editor Robert Fulford.

  • Since 1978, Fulford has won more NMA gold medals (15) than any other writer or artist. But fashion photographer Chris Nicholls is the winningest creator in NMA history, with 20 total medals (10 gold; 10 silver).

 

1999

Jane O’Hara’s investigative report “Rape in the Military” (Maclean’s) wins two National Magazine Awards, including the President’s Medal. It remains one of the most significant and studied feature stories in the history of Canadian magazines.

It [“Rape in the Military”] was such a groundbreaking and heartbreaking story—20 years later, it haunts me still. The raw honesty of the women who shared their stories, and the abusive betrayal of those who destroyed their lives and careers. You can feel the mastery of the interviewer in how she was able to get these victims to open up to her and feel her sensitivity in how she told the story.
– Dawn Chafe, editor-in-chief, Atlantic Business Magazine

 

2000

The upstart Shift magazine wins 9 National Magazine Awards, including a sweep for art directors Carmen Dunjko and Malcolm Brown in the categories Art Direction and Best Cover. From 1994 until it folded in 2003, Shift won 27 NMAs and became a notorious rival to Saturday Night. After the magazine won its huge haul of awards, much to the chagrin of its critics, editor Laas Turnbull told The Globe and Mail: “I have found that people’s reaction to Shift often says a great deal more about them than it does about the magazine. It’s so unusual to launch something new in this country and then to actually survive.”

Shift on Beck… never forget it.
– Malcolm Brown, 15-time National Magazine Award-winning art director

 

2001

The National Magazine Awards expands to 37 categories, up from 14 at the 1978 awards. George Whiteside wins the first gold medal in the category Food Photography, for President’s Choice magazine. (The category is discontinued in 2003.)

  • Other discontinued categories in the history of the NMAs include Conceptual Photography, Food Writing, Leisure Pursuits, Community Feature, Studio Photography, Best Repurposed or Adapted Content, and Best New Magazine.

 

2002

George Elliott Clarke. Photo credit: Carmelita Linta / CBC

George Elliott Clarke wins the gold medal in Poetry, for a suite of six poems in Prairie Fire.

  • Prairie Fire has won 15 National Magazine Awards since 1996, most recently a silver medal in 2016 for Poetry (Harold Hoefle).

 

2003

Don Obe. Photo by John Reeves

For the 25th NMA gala, Don Obe edits a special anniversary magazine featuring the top stories, issues, photography, and design from each year since the first National Magazine Awards. A beloved Ryerson University instructor and former editor at Maclean’s, The Canadian, and Toronto Life, Obe received the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in 1994. He passed away in 2014.

  • At the 25th anniversary NMA gala, hosted by Second City comedienne Judy Croon, Adbusters won for Best Art Direction of a Single Article, The New Quarterly swept the gold medals in Fiction and Poetry, Elm Street won for Portrait Photography, and Outpost won Magazine of the Year.

 

2004

Marci McDonald’s investigation into Paul Martin’s controversial private business dealings, published in the inaugural issue of The Walrus, wins that magazine its first (of many) National Magazine Awards.

  • Marci McDonald won the gold medal in Business at the very first NMAs in 1978, and has won 11 in total since then. In 2017 she served on the NMA jury in the category Long-Form Feature Writing.

 

2005

Gerald Hannon is a double gold medallist for his story “The Eyes of Edward Burtynsky” (Toronto Life) in the categories Profiles and Arts & Entertainment.

Lynn Cunningham, my editor at Toronto Life, assigned me a major feature on the AIDS crisis in 1988 when I had no magazine experience and when I was mostly known for having been on trial for publishing immoral, indecent, or scurrilous matter. She took a chance on me, and thanks to her support and encouragement my writing career took off.
– Gerald Hannon, 13-time National Magazine Award-winning writer

 

2006

The June 1969 cover of Saturday Night

Saturday Night, after folding (for the second and final time) in November the previous year, wins 7 National Magazine Awards, bringing its legendary haul to 231 NMAs since 1978. The same night, The Walrus breaks Saturday Night’s record by winning 13 gold medals (and 16 overall).

  • In 2015, Toronto Life finally passed Saturday Night for most NMAs in history, when writer Lauren McKeon won the gold medal in Personal Journalism for “Save Me From My Workout.” Toronto Life now has 244 NMAs heading into the 2017 awards.

 

2007

Program cover of the 30th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala. Illustration by Dan Page. Art direction by Levi Nicholson.

At the 30th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala at the Carlu in Toronto, Scott Feschuk hosts, David Gilmour‘s “My Life with Tolstoy” is a double gold medal winner, and The Walrus wins Magazine of the Year. Jeremy Klaszus is presented with the award for Best New Magazine Writer (formerly known as the Alexander Ross Award) for his investigation into unsavoury practices in Alberta’s oil industry, published in Alberta Views.

 

2008


Maisonneuve’s “Food Issue,” featuring a cover photo of miniature explorers attempting a dangerous crossing of the surface of a crème brûlée, wins the gold medal for Best Magazine Cover (art direction by Anna Minzhulina).

  • Recently the NMAF’s Richard A. Johnson interviewed Anna Minzhulina about her ten-year tenure at Maisonneuve, her creative process as an art director, and the importance of supporting emerging women magazine artists.

 

2009


Chris Turner wins the gold medal in Essays for “The Big Decision” (Alberta Views), arguing in favour of nuclear energy at a time when the province’s Oil Sands are booming.

  • Moose Jaw native Chris Turner, a 9-time NMA winner, hosted the 2016 National Magazine Awards gala, featuring a cameo from Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi.

 

2010

Up Here magazine, published in Yellowknife, wins Magazine of the Year, becoming the first magazine from Canada’s North to win the grand prize.

  • At the 2010 National Magazine Awards gala, Terry Sellwood of Cottage Life Media received the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement. At the 2017 gala, Penny Caldwell will become the third member of the Cottage Life family to win the award, after Terry and founder Al Zikovitz (2002).

 

2011

Image: CBC

Sean Michaels wins the One-of-a-Kind gold medal for an account of his exploration of the catacombs of Paris, published in Brick. Michaels would later go on to win the Giller Prize for his novel, Us Conductors.

  • Other NMA winners for Brick literary magazine include Michael Ondaatje (1981), Alex Pugsley (2005), Patrick deWitt (2013), and Linda Spalding (2014), all in the Fiction category.

 

2012

The Grid, a weekly Toronto city magazine that launched the previous May, wins six National Magazine Awards, including three gold medals for art director Vanessa Wyse. The Grid’s boisterous cheering section remains one of the most enduring memories of its first NMA gala.

  • In 2013 The Grid won 7 National Magazine Awards, edging The Walrus (6). It’s the only time since 2004 that winningest magazine at the NMAs was not Toronto Life or The Walrus.

 

2013

For the first time, the NMAs honour outstanding achievement by tablet editions. Canadian House & Home wins the first award for Tablet Magazine of the Year.

  • In subsequent years, Today’s Parent and Sportsnet won the National Magazine Award for Tablet Magazine of the Year. The award was discontinued in 2016 as the NMAF launched the Digital Publishing Awards to recognize achievement in Canadian digital publishing. The 2017 Digital Publishing Awards are coming up on June 1.

 

2014

Edmonton newcomer Eighteen Bridges magazine wins four National Magazine Awards among 11 nominations, including two gold medals for editor and feature writer Curtis Gillespie.

  • In 2016 Eighteen Bridges also won four NMAs, including the gold medal in Investigative Reporting. Recently the NMAF’s Richard A. Johnson interviewed journalist Virgil Grandfield about his incredible 10-year investigation of human trafficking and murder related to Red Cross reconstruction projects in Indonesia.

Also, remember this:


 

2015

Crimes sexuels dans l’armée,” an extensive investigative report by journalists Noémi Mercier and Alec Castonguay about sexual assault in the Canadian military, published in L’actualité, wins two gold medals (Investigative Reporting and Politics & Public Interest).

  • Lainey Lui and Jessica Allen from CTV’s “The Social” co-hosted the 38th NMA gala in 2015, featuring a cameo by 4-time host Scott Feschuk.

 

2016

Desmond Cole accepts the award for Best New Magazine Writer to a standing ovation at the 2016 National Magazine Awards in Toronto (Photo: Steven Goetz / National Magazine Awards Foundation)

Desmond Cole is nominated for four National Magazine Awards for his exposé of Toronto police discrimination against the city’s Black community, “The Skin I’m In” (Toronto Life). Cole wins the gold medal for Best New Magazine Writer and two silver medals (Essays and Personal Journalism), and receives a standing ovation on stage at the gala.


Take a deeper dive into the history of the National Magazine Award by perusing the NMA archive.
The 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards will be held on Friday, May 26, at the Arcadian Court in Toronto. Tickets are on sale now. Check out all the nominees.
Not able to make it to the gala? Follow our exciting live tweet @MagAwards to catch all the live action.

Off the Page, with Gracia Lam and the Spot Illustration

Gracia Lam, by Gracia Lam.
Gracia Lam, by Gracia Lam.

Off the Page is a regular interview series produced by the National Magazine Awards Foundation. Today we’re chatting with illustrator Gracia Lam, whose work has been published in Maisonneuve, The Walrus, More, Corporate Knights, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic and others. At last year’s National Magazine Awards, Gracia won both the gold and silver awards for Spot Illustration for two pieces of work published in Maisonneuve, the first illustrator ever to achieve that distinction.
NMAF: The spot illustration holds a special place in the makeup of a magazine. Diminutive, often playful, sometimes underrated in comparison to larger elements of artwork. What do you think makes spot illustration such a fundamental component of a magazine story? 
Gracia Lam

Gracia Lam: I think that spot illustrations are a splash of colour within a sea of text, constructing direction or a break for the reader’s eye. Within a confined space, it is carefully conceived to enhance the content of an article. It assists in the creation of tone and mood, and is used purposefully to amplify a reader’s senses and experience.
NMAF: You achieved an unprecedented feat at last year’s National Magazine Awards, winning both the Gold and Silver medals in Spot Illustration for two different works published in Maisonneuve. The jury awarded gold to your spot illustration accompanying a story called “The Elite Yellow Peril,” which is a very evocative work. What was your creative vision for this piece, and was it created specifically for the text or did you have a broader idea in mind when you created it?

Gracia: I often describe my two-dimensional pieces of illustrations as a short film. In film, the story is narrated through multiple frames and over a time period; my illustrations reveal the climax of a story in one frame.
My vision for the “The Elite Yellow Peril” was to create a connection with the viewer that is immediate and impactful. To achieve this, I created an illustration with imageries and representations as closely related to the text as possible.
NMAF: The article that featured your Silver winning spot, “The Tar-Sands Trap” dealt with the highly controversial, nationally debated topic of the Keystone XL pipeline. As a spot illustrator, how does your level of awareness on the associated story influence your creative process? Before you begin working on an illustration, how does your familiarity with the topic guide your conceptualization process?

Gracia: When working on any assignment, I allow the story to directly inform my creative process from conceptualizing initial sketches to final colourization. During the first read through of the assignment, I take notes and highlight bits and pieces of writing that round up the theme.
For “The Tar-Sands Trap” article, I needed to familiarize myself with specific elements of the story such as its location, the visualization of its landscape and environment, and the pipeline.
When the Art Director gives me complete freedom, I approach the conceptualization process with how I think the mood should be represented—which is to portray the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline as a danger to the community.
NMAF: Your work has appeared in a large number of magazines, including many National Magazine Award-winning publications. Is there a “Gracia Lam” style that is boldly consistent throughout your work in various publications? And what is the process of adapting that style to align with the vision of the art director or of the textual part of the story?
Gracia: My visual language is created using mixed media, combining hand painted and drawn elements along with digital execution. I love to delight the audience with wit by reimagining everyday objects, mundane environments, and familiar situations with visual puns.
The process of adapting that style is mainly through practice. I am grateful that throughout my career I have been given many opportunities on various topics and stories from business and finance articles to science and health stories. These challenges allow me to identify my strengths and edit out my weaknesses, so each project contributes to the gradual tightening and refining of my work and portfolio.

NMAF: You swept the Spot Illustration category at last year’s gala, taking home both the Gold and Silver awards. Before that, you had been nominated three times since 2010. Winning both top spots within a single category is no small feat. Can you describe the difference in transitioning from nominee to two-time winner? What effect have the awards had on your career since last year’s ceremony?
Gracia: I was absolutely blown away by last year’s awards and want to thank the judges who recognized my work. I have always been excited to be nominated alongside many known names in the field—many of which are my peers and idols. The transition from nominee to winner is humbling because winning any award from the NMAs had been a goal. Since the awards last year, I have been working proficiently to improve on each piece to be on top of my own game.
Gracia Lam is a National Magazine Award-winning illustrator, born in Hong Kong and raised in Toronto. She likes to reinvent everyday objects and mundane environments.. To view more of her work visit GraciaLam.com
Special thanks to Leah Jensen for conducting this interview with Gracia Lam. To view more nominated and winning work, visit the National Magazine Awards online archive at magazine-awards.com/archive.
Check out more of our Off the Page interviews with National Magazine Award winners, including illustrators Byron Eggenschwiler, Roxanna Bikadoroff, Jillian Tamaki and Selena Wong.
The nominees for this year’s National Magazine Awards will be announced right here on the NMA blog on May 4. This year’s awards gala is June 5 at the Arcadian Court in Toronto. 

Off the Page, with Judith Pereira & Report on Business Magazine


Off the Page is a regular interview series produced by the National Magazine Awards Foundation. Today we chat with Judith Pereira, senior editor of Report on Business magazine, winner of 5 National Magazine Awards last year and one of Canada’s leading business and investigative publications.
NMAF: It probably isn’t surprising to your readers that Report on Business is a juggernaut of magazine journalism (gold medals for Business journalism at six of the last eight National Magazine Awards; also gold medals for Investigative ReportingScience, Technology & the Environment and Magazine Covers, to name just a few). How would you describe the mandate of ROB to its readers, and its commitment to editorial excellence?
Judith: Our mandate at Report on Business magazine is simple: We engage the best journalistic talent in the business to report on the successes and failures, the breakthroughs and breakdowns of the most intriguing players in Canadian business at home and around the world.
Our experienced team of writers, photographers, illustrators, editors and designers focus on three main audiences: firstly, business leaders across the country—that’s why you’ll find a copy of Report on Business magazine in almost every executive office in Canada; secondly, the new-generation superstars who love an aspirational read; and finally, all those who are interested in the people, trends and brands that shape the way we work and live—as part of The Globe and Mail, we are attached to a well-respected brand that can open doors to a general-interest audience.

"Where Asbestos is just a fact of life" by Stephanie Nolen and John Gray, Report on Business, September 2011. Nominated for a record 5 National Magazine Awards, winning 3.
“Where Asbestos is just a fact of life” by Stephanie Nolen and John Gray, Report on Business, September 2011. Nominated for a record 5 National Magazine Awards, winning 2.

NMAF: How does winning a National Magazine Award help raise the profile of the magazine, with respect to your readers, your journalists or your bottom line?
Judith: When Report on Business wins awards, it shows that the magazine is one of the best, if not the best, in its field of business journalism. This kind of acknowledgement is a big boost for the sales team when they explain to advertisers why Report on Business magazine is a good buy.
Winning magazine awards in a variety of fields also gives the magazine a cachet among award-winning journalists, who want to see their pieces published in a respected publication that consistently garners nominations not just in business, but also in categories like science and technology, humour, arts and more. Similarly, Report on Business magazine attracts top photographers from around the world—names like Neil Wilder, Chris Buck and Matthu Placek—because our design and photography awards signal that we take those areas seriously.
"The Smartest Guys on the Planet" by Eric Reguly, Report on Business, December 2013. Nominated for 3 National Magazine Awards.
“The Smartest Guys on the Planet” by Eric Reguly, Report on Business, December 2013. Nominated for 3 National Magazine Awards, winning 1.

NMAF: Are there any particular ROB stories in the past couple of years that you’ve been especially proud to see recognized by the National Magazine Awards judges, and why? 
Judith: We were really pleased to see Greg McArthur and Graeme Smith get recognized for their investigative work on SNC-Lavalin [“Building with the Brigadier”; Gold Medals in Investigative Reporting and Business, Silver Medal in Politics & Public Interest, 2012]. Staffer Ted Mumford also deserves credit for his editing of it. They spent a lot of time and energy getting to the bottom of that story, and it paid off.
Eric Reguly’s piece about the insurance industry’s decision to tackle climate change  [“The smartest guys on the planet“; Silver Medal in Politics & Public Interest, 2013] was a good example of the magazine’s determination to cover important international stories even if they aren’t specifically Canadian.
We were also thrilled to receive recognition for our coverage of asbestos—a joint effort between John Gray in Canada, Stephanie Nolen in India and photographer Louie Palu [“Where Asbestos is just a fact of life“; Gold Medal, Business, Silver Medal, Politics & Public Interest, 2011]. Our magazine is one of few Canadian publications still covering international stories with any depth, and these nominations show that we need to continue putting them out there.
Our Larry Fink cover, photographed in black and white by Anya Chibis, was one of our most unusual covers. Most top executives balk at the idea of getting playful in front of the camera, and Fink, who runs a $3.7-trillion fund, is no different. But the talented Chibis pulled off what is arguably one of our best covers of all time. The photograph of Fink crossing a Toronto street as he gestures to himself was an off-the-cuff moment that Chibis captured and it not only ended up on the cover–and winning the National Magazine Awards for Magazine Covers and Portrait Photography–but also graced Fink’s 50th birthday cake.
[Editor’s Note: Read our previous interview with ROB Art Director Domenic Macri about the Larry Fink cover.]
To discover more about Report on Business and many other great Canadian magazines, browse the NMA Archive for full-text articles and images of nominated and winning work from past years.
Read more Off the Page interview with National Magazine Award-winning editors, writers, illustrators, photographers and art directors.
The final deadline to enter this year’s National Magazine Awards is Monday, January 19. Enter online at magazine-awards.com.
Update: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the awards and year of the story “Where Asbestos is just a fact of life.” The post has been updated.]

En marge, avec Nicolas Langelier

Nicolas Langelier (Photographe : Maxime Leduc); Nouveau Projet numéro 6
Nicolas Langelier (Photographe : Maxime Leduc) ; Nouveau Projet numéro 6

Nicolas Langelier, cofondateur, éditeur et rédacteur en chef de Nouveau Projet, a accepté de répondre aux questions de la Fondation dans le cadre de notre série d’entretiens « En marge ». Nouveau Projet s’est illustré lors de la dernière édition des Prix en décrochant plusieurs mentions honorables, en plus d’être nommé finaliste au titre le plus convoité, Magazine de l’année.
FNPMC : Les membres du jury ont encensé le côté audacieux et original de Nouveau Projet, tout en soulignant la qualité exceptionnelle de la direction artistique et du design. Quelle fut votre réaction lorsque vous avez appris la mise en nomination de Nouveau Projet au titre de Magazine de l’année?
Nicolas Ç’a été à la fois une grande surprise et une immense fierté. Pour un petit magazine indépendant qui compte seulement deux années d’existence, d’être finaliste au titre de Magazine de l’année, c’est un honneur inespéré.
Je me souviens aussi d’avoir ressenti une très grande reconnaissance envers les Prix du magazine canadien, pour arriver ainsi à prendre en compte des publications aux ressources et clientèles aussi diverses.
FNPMC : À quels facteurs attribuez-vous le succès remarquable que connait Nouveau Projet?
Nicolas : Je pense qu’il y a d’abord notre obsession pour la qualité, dans tout ce que nous faisons, du choix de nos sujets jusqu’à notre présence sur les réseaux sociaux. Nos lecteurs ressentent ce souci constant, et considèrent que c’est quelque chose pour lequel ils sont prêts à payer.
Et puis il me semble que nous venons combler un vide qui s’est créé dans le paysage médiatique. Avec la tendance générale vers des textes plus courts, des sujets plus sensationnalistes, du travail fait plus rapidement, s’est libérée une place pour des gens offrant justement une contre-tendance à tout ça.
Beaucoup de nos lecteurs nous disent que nous leur faisons du bien, et je pense que c’est parce que nous offrons quelque chose que beaucoup de publications considèrent que les lecteurs ne veulent pas, ou ne veulent plus.
« Faux-self mon amour » par Fanny Britt (Nouveau Projet) ; Médaille d'or, Journalisme personnel, 2012
Faux-self mon amour, par Fanny Britt (Nouveau Projet) ; Médaille d’or, Journalisme personnel, 2012

FNPMC : L’excellence de votre travail vous a valu plusieurs mentions honorables aux Prix du magazine canadien. Quelle incidence cela a-t-il eue sur votre carrière et sur le rayonnement de Nouveau Projet?
Nicolas : C’est certainement quelque chose qui a eu un impact positif pour nous. Peut-être plus au niveau de notre perception par les autres membres de l’industrie que par le public comme tel, parce que ce dernier (au Québec du moins) ne les connait pas nécessairement beaucoup—mais cette reconnaissance de nos pairs, des annonceurs et des collaborateurs actuels et futurs a une grande valeur pour nous.
Et j’ose aussi croire que cela a permis à Nouveau Projet de commencer à avoir une certaine visibilité au Canada anglais, ce qui est important.
FNPMC : Vous avez contribué à de nombreuses publications québécoises. Que fait la singularité des magazines québécois et canadiens, selon vous? En quoi se distinguent-ils par rapport à d’autres publications internationales?
Nicolas : C’est déjà un exploit d’arriver à survivre dans un marché aussi petit, qui pourrait être envahi par les publications étrangères. Je pense que ça en dit long sur la persévérance et le courage des gens qui composent cette industrie. D’arriver à produire des choses de grande qualité dans des conditions aussi difficiles, c’est quelque chose dont on peut être fiers.
« Solstice +20 par Nicolas Langelier (Nouveau Projet) ; Mention honourable, Essais, 2013
Solstice +20 par Nicolas Langelier (Nouveau Projet) ; Mention honourable, Essais, 2013

FNPMC : Vous participez fréquemment aux Prix du magazine canadien, et êtes membre de notre jury bénévole. Alors que vous étiez président de l’Association des journalistes indépendants, vous avez créé les Grands Prix du journalisme indépendant. En quels termes qualifieriez-vous le rôle essentiel que jouent les programmes de prix?
Nicolas : Ils sont essentiels. Bien sûr, ils ne sont pas parfaits, chacun a ses petits défauts, ses angles morts, ses chouchous. Mais d’avoir ce genre d’institutions qui valorisent l’excellence et tirent l’ensemble d’une industrie vers le haut, ça me semble absolument nécessaire. C’est vrai pour les éleveurs de vaches, les architectes ou les artisans qui fabriquent des magazines: nous avons besoin de ces incitatifs à nous comparer aux plus talentueux et rigoureux de notre industrie, et à sortir le meilleur de nous-mêmes.
FNPMC : Votre maison d’édition, Atelier 10, a récemment lancé la collection « Pièces ». Quel avenir souhaitez-vous pour Atelier 10 et pour vos publications? Quels sont vos objectifs à plus long terme?
Nicolas : J’ai envie que nous devenions une référence pour tout ce qui est culture et idées au Québec—et dans le reste de la francophonie, éventuellement. Publier les meilleurs auteurs et artistes visuels, et les faire découvrir à nos lecteurs. Produire différents types de publications, mais toujours avec une grande rigueur, et un souci constant des moindres détails.
Je crois encore beaucoup au papier, en tant que médium pour transmettre des idées, des informations, des valeurs, et j’ai envie de prouver qu’ils ont tort, tous ceux qui prédisent la mort de l’imprimé. Cela ne veut pas dire que nous négligeons le numérique pour autant: tout ce que nous faisons est aussi disponible en version numérique. Mais le papier a une place spéciale dans mon cœur, et je pense que c’est le cas aussi pour la majorité du public. Aussi bien en profiter!
Sinon, ultimement, je souhaite que notre travail ait un impact positif au niveau culturel, social, intellectuel. Si nous faisons tout cela, malgré les obstacles et les conditions difficiles, c’est parce que nous croyons que des changements sont nécessaires, dans notre société, et nous croyons aussi que les médias continuent d’avoir un rôle primordial à jouer pour faire avancer les choses, dans tous les domaines. Oui, les dernières 15 années ont fait mal à notre industrie, mais c’est à nous de trouver les manières de continuer à jouer notre rôle, en dépit de tout ça. Ce serait extrêmement dommage pour l’humanité, si un simple changement de contexte économique la privait de ce moteur essentiel que sont les médias de qualité.
Nouveau Projet numéro 3, direction artistique par Jean-François Proulx. Mention honourable, direction artistique de l'ensemble d'un numéro, 2013.
Nouveau Projet numéro 3, direction artistique par Jean-François Proulx. Mention honourable, direction artistique de l’ensemble d’un numéro, 2013.

Découvrir plus sur le magazine Nouveau Projet au nouveauprojet.com et sur Twitter @nouveau_project
Textes signés par Nicolas Langelier, à lire dans les archives de la Fondation :
Solstice +20, Nouveau Projet. Catégorie Essais, 2013
Le sida a 30 ans, ELLE Québec, coécrit avec Martina Djogo. Catégorie Société, 2011
De l’utilisation du mot pute par la jeune femme moderne, L’actualité. Catégorie Essais, 2007
« En Marge » : Lire d’autres entretiens

Farewell, Descant


Descant, the arts and literary quarterly published independently in Toronto since 1970, has announced that its forthcoming 167th issue, Vol. 45, No. 4, Winter 2014, will be its last.
Editor-in-chief Karen Mulhallen posted a farewell note on the magazine’s website, noting that after painstaking efforts to find alternative funding and deliberations among staff and funders, “we have jointly decided that Descant magazine in its present form is no longer sustainable.”

Grants have been in decline for more than five years, although other revenues such as sales and subscriptions have held steady or increased. We have cut costs everywhere we could, but many expenses over which we have no control have continued to spiral up.

Descant has won 6 National Magazine Awards since 1980 for its fiction, poetry and essays, most recently Adam Lindsay Honsinger‘s short story “Silence” in 2009.
What began as a mimeograph forty-four years ago evolved into a robust and stimulating literary magazine that has published works by Anne Michaels, Timothy Findley, Evelyn Lau, Margaret Atwood, Isabel Allende, Tom McGuane, Jane Urquhart, Dennis Lee, Michael Ondaatje and R. Murray Schafer, among many others. Lately its production office has been the historic George Brown building at the corner of Baldwin and Beverly Streets.
Browse through the back issues of Descant for a more complete perspective on what the magazine has published.
From the National Magazine Awards online archive:
Up the Amazon–1959; Mexico–1960” by P.K. Page (Descant), Honourable Mention, Poetry, 2005
Fudge” by Alex Pugsley (Descant), Honourable Mention, Fiction, 2010