Special Rate: Tickets to the 40th Anniversary National Magazine Awards


The nominees have been announced and Canada’s top writers, photographers, illustrators, editors, art directors, and more will gather at the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards on Friday May 26 in Toronto.
Nominated Freelancers: Freelancers who are nominated for a National Magazine Award may purchase up to two tickets at the special Nominated Freelancer Rate of $35, thanks to our generous table patrons. This is a limited offer, based on availability. Get your tickets today.
(Read about eligibility for this special offer.)
Early Bird Tickets: Tickets including the reception, dinner, show and dessert are $135 for all other guests until the Early Bird deadline of May 5. After that, tickets are $150.
Show Only: A limited number of Show-Only tickets are available for $75. Show-Only tickets do not include dinner.
Tickets are on sale now at magazine-awards.com/tickets.
Special thanks to our table patrons, who are generously supporting Canada’s magazine creators:

This year, 197 Canadian magazines from coast to coast to coast—English and French, print and digital—entered the best of their editorial and design work to the National Magazine Awards, submitting the work of more than 2000 writers, editors, photographers, illustrators, art directors and other creators.
The NMAF’s 112 volunteer judges have nominated a total of 202 submissions from 75 different Canadian magazines for awards in 25 written, visual, integrated and special categories.
Gold, Silver and Honourable Mention awards will be announced at the Arcadian Court in Toronto on May 26, at the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala. Gold Awards in most categories include a cash prize of $1000.
To view all nominees, visit the 40th Anniversary NMA Website or download the PDF.

Off the Page, with journalist Simon Diotte


Of the Page is an interview series featuring National Magazine Award winners. This week we’re chatting with Montreal writer and editor Simon Diotte. He gained recognition for his 2016 National Magazine Award-winning travel story “Sur les traces d’un écrivain voyageur” (“In the Footsteps of a Travel Writer”) published in Oxygène, where he is editor-in-chief. The story recounts a multi-day hiking trip in France in the company of a donkey named Muscade, following the trail of the great Scottish adventurer Robert Louis Stevenson who hiked the same path in 1878.
NMAF: For the uninitiated, tell us about Oxygène magazine and your readers?
Simon: A newcomer to the world of outdoor magazines, Oxygène launched in 2013 and is published twice annually. We have a circulation of 25,000 copies distributed for free in Quebec, mainly at shops and businesses that specialize in the outdoors. Distinguishing itself from other publications that focus on all outdoor sports (trekking, climbing, alpine skiing, surfing, etc), Oxygène focuses on the classics—camping, hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
NMAF: So which came to you first: A taste for adventure or a love of writing?
Simon: Writing. I grew up reading L’actualité. I loved their “territoire” features which explored a particular region under a specific theme. I admired the journalist Luc Chartrand in particular, winner of numerous National Magazine Awards. I recall one of his reports that explored the wild regions of Haute-Mauricie. As I read it, I dreamed of walking in remote areas, a notebook in hand. It was stories like this that prompted me to choose to become a freelance journalist, and I started writing articles about the outdoors, which then gave me opportunities to go on adventures.
Paradoxically, in real life I am not necessarily a great adventurer. But I like to have the opportunity to travel in a professional context, where I can have access, as a journalist, to places and people (such as business leaders, politicians, etc) who are not easily accessible to everyday folks.
NMAF: So in addition to your role as editor-in-chief of Oxygène you’ve also been a freelance journalist for over fifteen years. Over the years, you’ve been published in magazines including que L’actualité, Les affaires, Coup de pouce, Châtelaine and Nature Sauvage. And you cover a wide range of topics, including personal finance, the environment, and tourism, to name a few. Tell us about the process of selection stories to pursue. And what topics are currently arousing your curiosity as a journalist?
Simon: Even though I love to work on adventure-oriented stories, I see myself as a jack-of-all-journalism-trades, which corresponds well to my personality. I enjoy stories on the performance of the stock market or the latest film of a famous filmmaker. And so I transpose my diverse tastes into my work as a journalist.
To succeed as a freelancer, you have to be an idea-generating machine. As soon as an idea starts to form in my mind, I immediately make notes on it. I do a quick search to see if it’s a subject that’s already been covered. Sometimes it takes years for an idea to grow into a magazine story—often because of the lack of time or opportunity to pursue it. I have tons of ideas in the bank, but unfortunately I lack the time and budget to pursue them all. Right now I’m working on several stories about hunting. Stay tuned.

NMAF: Your story called “Sur les traces d’un écrivain voyageur” won a Silver Medal at the 2016 National Magazine Awards. You weren’t able to attend the gala, but you responded almost instantly to the announcement on Twitter. What was the first thing that came to your mind when you heard the news?
Simon: I was really proud that a story by a freelancer writer in a small Quebec publication had managed to stand out among the panoply of high-quality magazines across Canada. As a freelancer I often have the feeling of being David against Goliath in various journalistic contexts. Winning the National Magazine Award is proof that with audacity and determination, you can do great stories.
NMAF: You also received an Honourable Mention last year for your story “Le ski change d’air” published in L’actualité. And in 2014 you also won an Honourable Mention for “Rares et précieux champignons” in Nature Sauvage. What impact has this recognition had on you at this stage of your career as a journalist?
Simon: In my many years as a freelancer, I’ve experienced periods where I’ve questioned myself. Should I continue or should I do something else? The recognition of the National Magazine Awards has affirmed my decision to keep living by the writer’s pen. And working independently gives me the freedom to work on the stories I really want to. Awards provide confidence to freelancers and raise our profile among clients. They help us stand out.
NMAF: The Canadian magazine industry has undergone some profound transformations over the past few years. One need only think of all the print publications that have migrated to digital platforms, or of the recent announcement of the sale of a number of Quebec magazines by Rogers Media, including L’actualité, the most decorated French-language magazine in the history of the National Magazine Awards.* In such an uncertain environment, what is the key to success for a freelancer?
Simon: As a freelancer, diversification is a major asset. The publications I write for trust me to handle a wide range of topics, as they know I’m versatile enough to do them. It’s also a great idea to get creative and pitch stories that seem a little off the beaten track. The work I do is about 50% ideas that I pitch, and 50% ideas that are commissioned.
That said, the future doesn’t look so bright for journalism, even for the best freelancers. With falling revenues, magazines have less and less money, and of course that has an impact on content. Like most freelancers, I often wonder whether I’ll still be able to do this exciting work in a few years.


Simon Diotte is the editor-in-chief of the magazine Oxygène and a National Magazine Award-winning freelancer writer based in Montreal. Follow him on Twitter @sdiotte.
This interview was originally published in French on the blog Prix Magazine. Interview by Émilie Pontbriand. Translated from the French by Richard A. Johnson.
* Editor’s note: Since publication of this interview in French, L’actualité has been purchased by MishMash Media.

Story Board: Canadian freelancers turn to the US market to secure higher-paying gigs


This post is part of a series called “E-Lancer Writes,” exploring the working conditions, rights and collective organizing strategies of freelance journalists, interns and other low-wage or temporary digital media workers. Originally published on The Story Board and re-posted here with permission. By Errol Salamon.
When Canadian-based freelancer Katherine O’Brien started working as a web content and blog writer, she hadn’t made a conscious decision to publish with US companies to make a decent living.
Yet for over a year and a half, O’Brien has written mostly for companies south of the Canadian border, specializing in senior care, health and aging. O’Brien said it’s possible to make a decent living in Canada as long as it’s doing corporate work, but she has found it easier to get gigs in the US, given her specialty.
“When I started, I thought I’d be doing a lot of work with Toronto companies, thinking it would be an advantage that I was based in Toronto. I think it still could be an advantage to live in a market like Toronto where there are publications and you could meet or network with people,” O’Brien said in a recent interview. “But I get the majority of my business through email prospecting, not face-to-face networking, so it doesn’t seem to really matter where I live.”
It may not work for everyone, she said, but email prospecting has been her saving grace because she has found significantly more US companies in her field of specialization.
“Plus you get paid so much more in US funds. That’s a real bonus working in the US,” she said. “Some of the places I’ve worked at in Canada set the rates and they weren’t great. I’m doing better financially with what I’m doing now in the US.”
While digital communications have made it easier for Canadian freelancers like O’Brien to find clients outside of the country, writing for Canadian companies also has its advantages, said Aaron Broverman, a Canadian-based freelancer who writes for both US and Canadian publications.

“The community is smaller and everybody knows each other, so chances are good that you’ll be working with that person again, and they usually bring you back, or remember you or hire you for something else,” he said in an interview. “It’s just nice to represent the home team for Canadian publications.”
However, Broverman agrees that US companies generally pay better than Canadian ones.
“US companies seem to value the work a little bit more,” he said. “Whereas with Canadian publications, there’s always the story of ‘I don’t know where we’re going to get the funding.’”
Broverman also said he sometimes gets paid more writing for a US site than he does writing for the Canadian version of that site, such as CreditCards.com US and CreditCards.com Canada. Like other freelancers interviewed for this post, he speculated that the lower rates are a result of the smaller Canadian magazine market.
“When I write for the American site, I get a dollar a word US, but when I write for the Canadian site, I get only $350 US per article,” he said.
However, like some Canadian publications, not all US companies pay freelancers decently and some pay nothing, said Canadian-based freelancer Leslie Garrett, who also writes mostly for US companies. With 20 years of experience, Garrett targets employers she knows pay well, regardless of the side of the border the publications are on.
“I place a value on my work and those are the publications that I seek out,” she said in an interview. “I think that when writers give their work away, it devalues that work and we all end up being hurt by it.”
O’Brien, Broverman and Garrett are contemporary examples of Canadian freelancers who turn to US publications to make a decent living. But their income-boosting strategy has deep historical roots.
According to University of Toronto professor Nicole Cohen, as far back as the 1800s, Canadian freelancers struggled to earn a living from publishing in Canadian magazines that didn’t guarantee income in the country’s underdeveloped market. In her new book Writers’ Rights: Freelance Journalism in a Digital Age, Cohen says that in 1819, Canadian freelancers turned to the US, where magazines started paying writers for articles that year.
“Many American magazines paid for contributions, so Canadian writers sold their work in the United States while publishing for no pay at home,” writes Cohen.
By 1961, the Royal Commission on Publications, chaired by M. Grattan O’Leary, had recognized that Canadian freelance magazine writers had to look to the US to sell their work because Canada still had a small publishing market.
“As it is now, a professional freelance writer cannot live on the proceeds of writing only for Canadian periodicals,” wrote the O’Leary Commission in its report.
But despite the O’Leary Commission report, Canadian freelancers continued to earn low incomes over subsequent decades, according to a survey conducted by the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC). The survey, which contains the most comprehensive and current data available, reveals that freelance writers in Canada made an average annual salary of $25,000 per year before tax in 1979, $26,500 per year in 1995 and only $24,035 per year in 2005. When these salaries are adjusted for inflation, they actually represent a decrease in income.
For Canadian freelancers who seek work abroad to increase their incomes, there are collective organizations here at home that offer support systems.
According to Don Genova, president of CMG Freelance, a branch of the Canadian Media Guild since 1998, the Guild doesn’t provide special services for its freelance members who do work for US companies.
“But within the services we offer to all of our members, we would definitely take on any queries people have about foreign contractors, including but not limited to reviewing contract language, suggestions on negotiating tactics and communicating with a foreign contractor if there are problems with payment,” Genova said in an email.
Although he hasn’t been asked for help with foreign contracts often, he does recall writing an email on behalf of a freelance broadcaster who was having problems getting paid by a BBC program.
“I sent the email, laying out the details of the work that had been done, and the next day, the freelancer finally heard back from the producer of the program, giving details of the payment about to be sent.”
Like CMG Freelance, PWAC, a not-for-profit writers’ organization since 1976, doesn’t offer a specific program for members who write for US publications.
“However, a key member benefit is the internal networking and peer support system we have in place through our members-only forums and internal listserv,” said Stephanie Lasuik, PWAC national communications committee chair, in an email.
“Members with questions or queries on any aspect of their writing business receive immediate feedback from peers across Canada.”
With 10 years of experience, Broverman has his own frank advice for his freelancer peers across the country:
“Freelancing is hard, and it’s hard to make a living just freelancing, so find American clients and don’t apologize for it,” he said. “You don’t hear about more Canadians doing this on a regular basis. At first it seemed like I cracked some sort of code to get more money, but everybody should try.”


Errol Salamon is a freelance writer and a visiting scholar in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s also co-editor and contributor to the book Journalism in Crisis: Bridging Theory and Practice for Democratic Media Strategies in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2016). Follow him on Twitter @errolouvrier.

Freelancers: Last chance to enter the National Magazine Awards


Freelancers save over 50% on entry fees on National Magazine Awards submissions by Friday’s deadline. Are you a freelance journalist, illustrator, photographer, or other creator?
With the new Freelancer Support Fund from the National Magazine Awards Foundation, your first two entries are just $50 each (regular price $120). Awards include a cash prize of $1000.
Not sure if your magazine is entering your work on your behalf? If they do, we’ll refund your entry fees.
As a not-for-profit charitable organization, National Magazine Awards’ entry fees may be tax-deductible for self-employed freelancers.
The deadline for entries is Friday January 20.
Awards include:

Awards include a cash prize of $1000.
For a complete list of awards, visit magazine-awards.com/categories.
Ready to submit? Click here
PLUS: The Freelancer Support Fund is also applicable to creators entering the Digital Publishing Awards. Deadline for DPA entries is January 31.

Announcing the NMAF Freelancer Support Fund


For the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards the NMAF is offering a special discount to freelance writers, photographers and illustrators who enter their own work for consideration.
The NMAF Freelancer Support Fund allows freelancers to submit their first two (2) entries at the discounted rate of $50 per submission.
The Freelancer Support Fund applies to entries for Writing and Visual Awards, for which there is a cash prize to the winning creator of $1000.
An eligible “Freelancer” is a person:

  • who is not a staff member of a publication whose work they are submitting, and
  • whose byline (as a writer, photographer or illustrator) appears on the work they are submitting.

When registering for the National Magazine Awards submissions process, all freelancers must register as an Individual (rather than a Magazine) submitter, in order to be eligible for the Freelancer Support Fund.
The Freelancer Support Fund applies to your first two entries. The regular rate of $95 will apply to any submission entered in addition to the first two.
The NMAF is a registered charity, so all fees paid for submissions are tax-deductible. There are more reasons than ever to enter your work for a National Magazine Award!
Submission open for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards on December 1.
Stay tuned for updates on this year’s new categories and judging procedures, to be announced soon.