Wednesday, April 06, 2011

[UPDATED] Mischief or mishap? National Magazine Awards finalist list said to be "counterfeit"

[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.
[UPDATE: The magazine awards foundation has now posted the following explanation on its website:
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 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.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is bad bad bad bad and deserves a much better explanation other than the fact that "this list is counterfeit." Arjun Basu should be the one letting us know what REALLY happened.

2:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, we all huddled together in our Star Chamber and brainstormed a way to get advance publicity for the awards. We thought about killing the Poetry category, but, well, we've all know we've been there, done that. This fake list idea seemed novel, so we went with it. Yup, big conspiracy. Really, everyone, take a powder. The NMAF didn't fuck up. They were set up. Direct your darts at the perp, rather than blame the victim.

2:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right. Someone not associated with the NMAF guessed what stories were submitted, whittled them into a short list, made PDFs of them and then hacked into the NMAF's site and posted in the exact same style they were presented last year. Stop the excuses and conspiracy talk and tell us what really happened.

3:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NMAs have credibility only so long as the NMAF has credibility. The only ways the foundation can regain credibility are by a) finding and revealing "the perpetrator" or b) (the option based in reality) admit that someone in-house made a mistake, stress that this isn't the final list, apologize and move on.

4:41 pm  
Anonymous Kim Pittaway said...

Wow! So after 34 years, having to wait, what, 6 hours for an explanation is too long?

I realize that we all exist in a world of instant communication, but that doesn't mean that knowledge can be just as instantly generated. Folks need time to figure out what happened. Was the word "counterfeit" the perfect word to use? No. But it also doesn't appear to have been a deliberate effort to create a conspiracy theory--just a poorly chosen word.

And now that the NMAF does know what happened, they've let us know. As fully and completely and clearly as possible. A technical glitch that appears to have been difficult if not impossible to have foreseen.

Now let's cut them some slack after what has surely been a miserable day for them. (And yes, declaring my bias, as past president and long-time NMAF volunteer.)

5:23 pm  
Anonymous Patrick Walsh, past prez, NMAF said...

Hang in there NMAF! Thanks for explaining it all for everyone. You're clearly important to the industry to have generated so much concern. Anyway, as another past-prez (well said words, Kim), I know how tough it can be. Remember when Rogers' Brian Segal suggested we should cancel the entire program in 2009? Not fun. Again, thanks.

8:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a judge in one of the categories; we've already established our top entries, and the list that circulated yesterday had all those entries on it. I think those are indeed the nominees.

1:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see that a judge takes his/her responsibility to maintain confidentiality about the finalists seriously.

BTW, if you're a unilingual judge, your panel's list of finalists could look very different once the bilingual judges' scores have been layered in.

9:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Glad to see that a judge takes his/her responsibility to maintain confidentiality about the finalists seriously."

Well, it's not like the commenter was the one who published the list: the NMAF was responsible for that. And there's gonna be a lot of omelettes being wiped off NMAF faces if the eventual list of winners is identical, or even close, to the one that was leaked.

For their sake, the NMAF better hope their published explanation is the whole unvarnished truth.

4:37 pm  

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