Friday, June 08, 2012

Awards night in Toronto went smoothly and sweetly

In a Twittered world, it is impossible to be first with the news,but it's probably important to summarize the important outcomes of events such as last night's National Magazine Awards and the Kenneth R. Wilson Awards, this year happening back-to-back. However I am going to provide two links where you can read the excellent releases out of both events, giving detailed information on the winners in every category.
I'll restrict myself to making some highlights and observations:
  • Congratulations to the Magazines of the Year in each awards program: Maisonneuve was a surprise winner in the NMAs, and Alberta Oil the unsurprising winner in the KRWs.
  • Holding the two events in one evening was not a problem; in fact, it went seamlessly well, with the KRWs emptying out into the reception that then preceded the NMAs. Kudos to the organizers who clearly anticipated what could be done. 
  • Whether this will happen this way next year is an open question. Every KRW program came with a questionnaire about the event and its future direction. If enough people fill them out and send them back, the Canadian Business Press and Magazines Canada will know better what works and what doesn't for the business-to-business crowd. Some of the possibilities can be read between the lines of the questionnaire, including the possibility of once again holding the KRWs at a separate venue (the Old Mill was mentioned). I suppose it will not be a question of programming or autonomy, but of money.
  • The controversy (if that's not too strong a word) about the perceived treatment of b2b mags as second fiddles was met head-on by the emcee, Tom Gierasimczuk (editor of Marketing) and defused with humour. The crowd was smaller than in previous years, but it's not clear whether this was a result of the economy or a boycott.
  • The emcee of the National Magazine Awards, Ralph Benmergui, seemed strangely detached, even querulous. Or was it just me? 
  • The NMAs are notoriously a noisy event, with people drifting about and talking more loudly as the evening wears on, something that no emcee is able to manage. However it was interesting that you could have heard a pin drop as Heather Robertson, the recipient of the outstanding achievement award, stood and simply told a story about her university days, eliciting a good deal of warmth from people in the room who may not be very familiar with the outstanding achievement of the so-called "Robertson case". Yet by not talking about the 13-year odyssey, instead about her introduction to journalism (and a long career as a freelancer, editor, author and advocate), she held the crowd in the palm of her hand. (Nice introduction, by the way, by freelancer David Hayes.)
  • Perhaps we need to have a small workshop on acceptance speeches. It's acceptable for people to say just "thanks" and even to be nervous,  but it's not very gracious to say "I suck at this". Saying thank you is a learnable skill. 
  • This year's NMAs had nominees who are brand new on the scene. Not surprisingly, The Grid won multiple times (and hooted its approval at every mention). The new Rogers's Sportsnet not quite so much, but I'll bet that's not the case next year when it has a full year's issues under its belt.
  • Could we somehow manage not to hold the CAJ Journalism Awards on the same night as the NMAs and KRWs? Or, for that matter, the Griffin poetry prize. Coordinate your calendars, people.
  • How did the change to a Thursday night work out for you? From my perspective, it took away the festive feel of a typical Friday evening. 
  • I suppose as a media sponsor I shouldn't say this, but there are not enough other sponsors of individual prizes in either awards program. The Globe and Mail and Reader's Digest notable exceptions. We need to step up and do a better job of supporting our own events.

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Anonymous Barbara Gould said...

The NMAF made a number of changes to this year's event and we need feedback from the attendees to properly gauge what worked and didn't work. If you attended the 2012 gala on June 7th please take 2 minutes to answer a brief questionnaire.

Magaward's 2012 Survey

Thank you!

Barbara Gould
Managing Director
National Magazine Awards Foundation

3:01 pm  
Blogger John Lorinc said...

I do realize the Foundation works on this event all year, and that it is a complex exercise. But I must say I found it to be an especially hard slog. The sound quality was TERRIBLE. I wasn't crazy about being served a cold meal. And the evening, when combined with the KRWs, goes on for a long time, especially with 40+ categories now and no breaks. I was mystified by the fact that only some of the entries were display on those banners -- how did that decision get made? And not for the first time, I found myself wondering why the magazine industry insists on the Carlu. It has panache, true, but this venue has many, many shortcomings, not least of which is that not everyone can sit in the same room at the same time. When I started attending NMAs 20 years ago, they were held at the Sheraton in a big ballroom, with lots of break-out space, decent speakers, no bottlenecks, etc. If I had to give one single piece of feedback, it would be: find a venue that holds everyone, and break up the evening.

4:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sportsnet is a boring magazine. I don't see it continuing into the future.

12:18 am  

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