[This post has been updated. See below.]
For a brief period this morning, a list that was said to be all the finalists for the National Magazine Awards was circulating, with a link to the awards' website. Since the finalists were not supposed to be announced for another month and since judging processes are not completed, it was suspicious as well as surprising.
A note from Barbara Gould, the event organizer, said the list was "counterfeit", which would suggest someone created it on their own and were up to no good. However, it is more likely that the list is
an internal work-in-progress that was somehow made available online in error [see below]. In which case, the NMAF should say so.
A lot of public relations damage is already done, both to those who may have been misled that they were not finalists and to those who are listed who may not wind up on the official list which is issued May 2.
How did this morning's inaccurate nominee list get created and released? The NMAF and our web developers have spent the day figuring this out, and here's what appears to have happened.
Last year, the NMAF created a page called the 2010 Nominees Report to provide not only a list of nominees but also links to all nominated work. The NMAF’s computer system, including the submission, judging and reporting functions used to manage the Awards, all require a manual update each year to put last year’s information into an archive, and to open a new set of information for the new year. This usually happens after the judging is complete, in preparation for the public announcement of the current year's nominees. This process has not yet been done by NMAF staff or by its web provider for any of the 2011 nomination/winner reports. However, unbeknownst to NMAF staff, the Nominees Report –in unusual fashion—was configured to automatically changeover to the new year and dynamically generate a new report without a manual update.
The live link to the 2010 Nominees Report was removed from public view (toggled “off” in the system and links on www.magazine-awards.com content removed) in July 2010. Today, as everyone knows, a “live link” was uncovered and featured a list of 2011 NMA nominees.
So how did this happen? Our web provider informed us that the “off” toggle malfunctioned (it has since been fixed). It appears that someone who had bookmarked last year's report clicked on the report link, and that triggered the system to automatically update the report, pulling from unverified, unchecked data elsewhere in the system. The list generated by the system has –until today—not been seen or vetted by NMAF staff and is very much incomplete and subject to change.
To reiterate what we said earlier, the judging is not final and the NMAF has not yet created its own nominees’ lists for ANY of the categories for this year’s awards. We sincerely regret the excitement and confusion this may have caused among members of the magazine community.
Labels: National Magazine Awards