The National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer

Are you an emerging Canadian magazine journalist or creative non-fiction writer? Did you publish one of your first major stories in 2014 in a Canadian consumer magazine, university magazine or literary journal? Chances are you’re eligible to be named Canada’s Best New Magazine Writer from the National Magazine Awards Foundation.
The National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer goes to the writer whose early work in Canadian magazines (print, online or tablet) shows the highest degree of craft and promise.
Last year’s winner, Catherine McIntrye, published an investigative story in THIS Magazine about cancer rates in New Brunswick and correlations to heavy industry. Read our interview with Catherine about her story and ambition to become a magazine journalist.
The 2012 winner, Sierra Skye Gemma, published a personal essay about grief in the literary journal The New Quarterly. Read our interview with Sierra about her approach to creative writing and how she came to enter her story for a National Magazine Award.
Previous finalists and winners have been published in Ryerson Review of Journalism, The Walrus, Maisonneuve, Prairie Fire, Chatelaine, Alberta Views, NOW Magazine, Toronto Life, Maclean’s and more.
Eligible work must have been published in a Canadian magazine (print, online or tablet) between January 1 and December 31, 2014, and must be at least 1000 words in length. Open to non-fiction work only. Articles published in university/college magazines are eligible. Candidates must not have published any magazine work longer than 1000 words prior to 2013. The intent is to restrict this award to students and magazine writers with a maximum of 2 years’ experience in professional journalism. One entry per person. See the NMAF’s general rules for further information about eligible publications.

Submit now at Submissions may be made by the writer or by their publisher, editor or teacher. Entrants must complete the online application and submit required hard copies (see below). The deadline for applications including all required hard copies is January 19. The cost to enter is only $25 +HST.

  • Upload a PDF of your story during the online application.
  • Submit in hard copy four (4) sets of original tear sheets and four (4) copies of a letter of reference from a teacher, editor, mentor or colleague which attests to the candidate’s eligibility and provides context for the work submitted. Both the article and letter are reviewed by the judges.
  • Pay the submission fee ($25 + HST) by cheque or credit card.

A shortlist of 3 finalists will be announced on May 4, and each finalist will receive recognition in the NMAF’s publications and a certificate. The winner will be revealed at the 38th annual National Magazine Awards gala on June 5.
$500 cash; plus the right to call yourself a National Magazine Award-winning writer. We’ll interview you on our blog and promote you and your writing across Canada.
More information and to submit: 
Don’t forget the deadline: January 19, 2015.

Call for Participants: NMAF Round Table on Eligibility & Judging

[This post has been updated] Each autumn the NMAF convenes one or more Round-Table discussions with members of the industry to help us ensure we are representing the needs of our stakeholders.

On Thursday, September 26 [Update: at 2:30pm] in Toronto the National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF) will host an industry Round-Table discussion concerning its policies on magazine eligibility and its judging process. All stakeholders and representatives of participating magazines are invited attend, but must RSVP not later than Friday, September 20.

Agenda: The NMAF has proposed two general topics for discussion and feedback; however, we also invite attendees to table other questions, concerns and ideas regarding the policies, procedures and roles of the NMAF in the magazine industry.

  1. Magazine Eligibility: What defines a magazine and who may participate in the National Magazine Awards?
  2. Digital Magazines & Content: Is the NMAF serving the needs of the industry and representing relevant creators?

Participants: Members of the NMAF Board of Directors and Judging Committee will join industry representatives for a 90-minute open discussion. Ideal participants will fulfill one or more of the following criteria:

  • General familiarity with NMAF’s operations, stakeholders and roles in the Canadian magazine industry;
  • Prior service as an NMA judge, particularly judges who’ve participated in multiple years and/or multiple categories;
  • Interest in / experience with being involved with the broad issues of the NMAF and the Canadian magazine industry at large;
  • Working in / knowledge of digital magazine production or digital aspect of the magazine industry;
  • General seniority or prominence in the industry;
  • Representation from a variety of participating magazines, magazine companies, and geographic regions of Canada.

Participants from outside Toronto may attend via teleconference. Participants in Toronto are encouraged to attend in person.

Those interested to attend should please contact NMAF Special Projects Manager Richard Johnson not later than Friday, September 20.

Email: richard.johnson [at]

Confirmed participants will receive a detailed agenda and other event information by Monday, September 23.

2011 National Magazine Awards: What’s new this year?

Starting today you can begin submitting your entries for the 2011 National Magazine Awards. The board of directors for the NMAF has approved the following changes to the awards program for 2011. The changes reflect the input and guidance from various members of our industry who are dedicated to ensuring the NMAF fulfills its mission to recognize and promote excellence in Canadian magazine publishing.
[Version française ici]

1. Expansion of digital magazine participation:
Starting this year, content from digital magazines, companion websites of print magazines and online-only magazines will be eligible in most categories. The NMAF has clarified its guiding principle for what constitutes a digital magazine; please read carefully the Eligibility & Rules page before submitting, as well as the new NMAF Frequently Asked Questions.

Digital magazines (such as tablet editions) are now eligible to enter all categories except Editorial Package and Print Magazine of the Year (they may of course enter the category Digital Magazine of the Year). Eligible magazine websites may enter most written and visual categories. Exclusively digital categories Best Multi-media Feature and Best Digital Design may now be found under integrated and visual categories, respectively. See the full list of categories for details. See our FAQ for more on eligibility of Digital Magazines and Magazine Websites.

2. New visual categories:
The erstwhile Fashion & Beauty category has been divided into two distinct categories. The new category Fashion is open to any fashion layout using photography or illustration. The new category Beauty is open to any beauty layout using photography or illustration.

The former category Conceptual Photography has been renamed Creative Photography with an updated category definition.

The parameters for the categories Illustration and Spot Illustration have changed. All images a half page in size or larger must now be entered in the Illustration category; images smaller than a half page must be entered in Spot Illustration.

The definitions of the categories Homes & Gardens and Photojournalism & Photo Essay have been updated. See the full list of visual categories for complete definitions.

All visual categories other than those for art direction are now open to entries from all eligible digital magazines (such as tablet editions) and magazine websites. Digital magazines may enter their work in the art direction categories. See our FAQ for more on eligibility of Digital Magazines and Magazine Websites.

3. Two categories for emerging magazine talent:
This year there will once again be separate categories for Best New Magazine Writer and Best New Visual Creator. Each is open exclusively to emerging professionals — including students — whose early work in Canadian magazines shows the highest degree of craft and promise. The entry fee for these categories is only $25, and the prize money for the winner of each is $500. Read more about these categories.

4. Adjustments to written categories:
The roster of written categories remains the same; however small changes have been made to the definitions of the categories One of a Kind and Politics & Public Interest in the interest of clarity. Please read through all categories carefully before submitting.

The submissions process for the 2011 National Magazine Awards is now open at The deadline for submissions is January 13.

National Magazine Awards > Frequently Asked Questions

This post has been updated for 2012. With the annual NMA submissions season about to begin on December 1, the NMAF is rolling out some answers to some general questions about the awards. If you have a question not addressed here, leave a comment or contact us. [Version française ici]

1. Who wins National Magazine Awards?
NMAs are awarded to content creators. In most categories this means it is the individual writer, photographer, illustrator or stylist who receives recognition and the award (and the prize money). In certain package and full-book categories the editors, art directors or a team of staff and contributors are rewarded. The magazine or website that published the winning work shares in the bragging rights and enjoys a spike in popularity. To search for past winners by year, category, individual or magazine, visit the NMAF Awards Archive.

2. What is the prize money?
A Gold NMA includes a cash prize of $1000. A Silver NMA includes a cash prize of $500. Where there is more than one creator named on a single winning entry, the cash prize will be split evenly between those creators. If there is a tie for Gold or Silver between two or more winning entries, both entries will receive a share of the stipulated cash prize. (When there is a tie for Gold in a categor, a Silver award is not given. If there are three or fewer nominees, then only a Gold award will be given.)

3. Where does my submission fee go?
The NMAF is a non-profit organization and all entry fees go towards prize money, the administrative costs of sorting submissions and facilitating the judging process.

4. Who is eligible for a National Magazine Award?
To be named as a creator on any submission, you must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. Your work must be original (not stock or previously published in any form), commissioned by the magazine or website and published within the eligible calendar year. Magazine and websites must be a majority Canadian owned, publish at least two issues per year and meet Canadian magazine industry’s Code of Reader & Advertiser Engagement. See the NMAF’s Eligibility and Rules for full details before submitting.

5. What is a magazine?
The NMAF’s guiding principle for magazine publishing is that the publication, whether print, tablet or website, must self describe as a magazine; be editorial in nature (that is, it must have and submit a clear editorial mandate); be the product of an editorial process; and be published regularly. A print or tablet publication must be published at least twice per year. A magazine website must have been launched before December 1, 2012. All magazines must meet the requirements of the NMAF’s Eligibility and Rules.

6. In which category is my work eligible?
It is the responsibility of the submitter to determine which of the NMA Categories is best suited to your work. Most written and visual work may be entered in more than one category except where specific restrictions are stated. (There is a separate fee for each individual entry.) The judges—not the NMAF—will determine whether your entry is appropriate to the category’s definition. Any entry deemed by judges to be entered in the wrong category will be disqualified.

7. Who are the judges for the NMAs?
Each year the NMAF relies on the expertise of more than two hundred volunteer judges to evaluate and rank all submissions. In composing its judging panels the NMAF strives for diversity of geography, language and expertise. Judges are recognized experts in a particular field of magazine publishing, editing, design, content creation and business, and may have an expertise in a subject relevant to a particular category.

8. How many judges evaluate my work?
Submissions in written categories are evaluated in a first tier by separate English- and French-language juries for each category. A shortlist of top entries from those panels, proportional by language, goes on to a second, bilingual jury for each category. Thus by the time a winner is selected, six judges have weighed in equally on all finalists. Submissions in visual, integrated and special award categories are evaluated by juries of 3-5 members, one or more of whom is bilingual.

9. What are judges looking for?
Judges in written categories look for excellence in writing style, content, overall impact and successful engagement of the intended reader, as well as the entry’s relevance to the category’s definition. Judges in visual categories assess the aesthetic as well as the practical concerns of each entry, evaluating the functionality of the visual material and its appropriateness to the category, to the text it accompanies and to the magazine medium. Judges in integrated and special categories follow the guidelines of each category’s definition. See the NMAF’s Judging Process for full details.

10. What happens if a category does not receive enough submissions?
Categories are offered on a trial basis when they are first introduced. If not enough submissions are received to provide a legitimate competition, the NMAF reserves the right to cancel that category after submissions are complete. In the event of a category cancellation all submissions fees will be refunded in that category.

11. We’re a small magazine. Could you help me with the submission fees?
Yes! The NMAF offers co-financing to print and digital magazines with an annual revenue of under $250,000 and that meet one of two circulations levels. Although as a charity we have a total fixed amount we are able to offer, there is no limit to the number of submissions a publication may enter.  The application process is simple and funds are allocated on a first come, first served basis. The deadline for applications is December 14, 2012. Read more here.


12. What types of digital and web-based magazines are eligible for the NMAs?
An eligible digital publication may be a Magazine Website or a Tablet Magazine. All publications wishing to enter the NMAs must meet the requirements of the NMAF’s Eligibility and Rules.

13. What exactly is meant by a Magazine Website?
A Magazine Website may be either the companion website of a print magazine title or an online-only publication that self-identifies as a magazine. Content from magazine websites may enter most awards categories with some exceptions. See the list of categories for details.

14. What exactly is meant by a Tablet Magazine?
A Tablet Magazine is a publication that produces a complete issue of a magazine but distributes it digitally on a tablet platform. Like a print magazine issue it should be a static creation, as opposed to a website that is updated frequently. Tablet magazines may enter most awards categories with some exceptions. See the list of categories for details.

15. Are there categories just for digital publications?
Yes. The categories Blogs, Editorial Package–Web, Magazine Website Design and Magazine Website of the Year are open exclusively to magazine websites. The category Tablet Magazine of the Year is open exclusively to tablet editions. The category Online Videos is open to magazine websites and tablet editions.

16. How do I submit an individual entry that appeared in a tablet edition?
Written-category submissions require three (3) sets of photocopies of the entry no matter the platform of publication. A PDF of the entire entry is required for all submissions (in all categories) and you will be prompted to upload your PDF in the online submission form. Please upload an original PDF, not a snapshot taken from the tablet edition and subsequently converted to a PDF.

17. How do I submit a full-book tablet edition for consideration?
These include Tablet Magazine entries for Art Direction for an Entire Issue, Best Single Issue and Tablet Magazine of the Year. The submission form for these categories will require the iTunes URL to your magazine app. We’ll also require one of two things: either that the issue to be judged be made free to download or a promotional code (or similar) be included to ensure that the issue may be viewed by the NMA judges for free. This step is important – requiring judges to pay for tablet entries would be like asking them to buy magazines at the newsstand to evaluate print entries. Any full-book Digital Magazine entry that requires payment to be viewed will be disqualified. A PDF is also required for these categories; submitters may upload a PDF of just the cover of the issue.

18. Can online content really compete against print in written categories?
Yes. Judges in written categories look for excellence in writing style, content, overall impact and successful engagement of the intended reader, as well as the entry’s relevance to the category’s definition. Any article that meets these requirements likely will be received well by the judges, whether it was originally published in print or online. (All submitters in written categories, whether print or digital, must submit six sets of photocopies of their work in accordance with the submissions guidelines. Judges will have access to both print and digital (PDF) versions of all entries as well as the editorial mandate of the publication.)

19. Is a blog eligible for a National Magazine Award?
Yes. New this year the NMAF is offering a written category for Blogs, which is open to submissions from a regular series of original written content produced by a magazine website that has a recognizable unifying voice or theme. Entries may consist of up to ten (10) blog posts by one or more authors. A blog or collection of blogs produced by a magazine website may be a component of an entry in the categories Editorial Package–Web and Magazine Website of the Year.

20. Who are the judges for digital categories?
Juries for the categories open exclusively to magazine websites and tablet magazines are composed of 3-4 individuals at least one of whom is bilingual. Each judging panel evaluates its assigned entries and convenes by teleconference to determine the finalists and winners. Each panel consists of at least one digital publishing editor, one designer and one writer and/or publisher. Read more about the NMAF Judging Process for all categories.

21. When do the judges evaluate digital categories?
Juries for Magazine Website Design and Magazine Website of the Year have approximately one month (from mid-February to mid-March following the submissions deadline) to evaluate live online content before meeting to decide on finalists and winners. This means that the design and content of the websites that appear during this one-month window will form the basis for evaluating entries in these categories.