The following is the National Magazines Awards Foundation's guidelines for judging. Entries and corresponding awards are divided into three divisions:
1. Written Categories
2. Visual Categories
3. Special and Integrated categories
4. Other Procedures
Generally, all categories will be judged on five equally weighted areas: style, content, creativity, ability to engage intended reader, and overall impact. Each category has its own criteria, and each category group has its own judging process.
1. Written Category Judging Process
Most written entries are judged in a two-tier judging process.
The first judging tier, which is responsible for the selection of finalists, consists of two unilingual juries of three people for each category. The judges, working individually, are instructed to score entries from 0 to 100, using the criteria of style, content, fairness, originality and how well the article engages the reader for whom it was intended. The Foundation aggregates the scores to determine the English and French finalists in each category. The only stipulations are that all finalists have an average score of 80 or more, and that the number of finalists in each language be proportionate to the number of entries received in that category.
The finalists, up to a maximum of 10 in each category, then proceed to the second tier of adjudication, the bilingual jury. At the second level, a common bilingual panel will judge both French and English finalists from each category. Three bilingual judges score each finalist. The goal of the bilingual panels is to integrate the French and English language finalists judged to be at the top of their language groups by the tier one judges.
The bilingual panel’s task is to determine where the English and French entries sit in a combined list. Because these entries have already been determined to be finalists, bilingual judges must make their minimum score for an entry at this level no less than 80% (the minimum score for a finalist). The scores of these three judges are added to the original scores of the French or English judges, to determine the final scores.
Final scores are an aggregate of first tier scores and second tier scores. The first tier of judging carries more influence on the final outcome of the judging. This acknowledges the specific expertise and knowledge of the judges in the field for which they are judging. The weighing split is 50/50.
2. Visual Category Judging Process
A panel of three to four people with diverse backgrounds judge each of the visual categories. Depending on the category, panel members may include an illustrator, a photographer, a magazine art director and/or an editor. The moderator is always bilingual. Judges are requested to review and score each entry in their category, then the panel meets via a moderated conference call to deliberate and to determine finalists, silver and gold winners. Their decision is final.
As with text categories there may be up to 10 finalists per category, with gold and silver winners.
While aesthetic considerations will be the main criterion for visual categories, winning entries should also be appropriate to the text they accompany, to the magazine medium and to the intended audience.
Visual Category Criteria
The entries are to be evaluated against each other in representing the 'best of the year participating publications.' Gold and Silver winners must be awarded in each category, with additional honourable mentions (to a maximum of eight).
While aesthetic considerations will always be the main focus of awards for the visual categories, every winner must also satisfy other criteria:
- Appropriateness of the visual material to the text that it accompanies
- Appropriateness of the material for the magazine medium
- Functionality—does the treatment make you want to read the article or the magazine as the case may be
Conformity to the latest trends in visual style is not a criterion. The jury is instructed to consciously avoid a faddish sensibility. Aesthetic concerns must be balanced with the practical. Any commentary that is provided by the magazines may be helpful in this regard. For example, magazines with high newsstand sales will be governed by very different considerations in their cover treatments as compared with low-circulation subscription publications.
The work is not intended to be judged against international standards or work that might find in other ‘markets’.
Assessing the Visual Entries
The judging panel will have at least two weeks to review and score al the entries in their assigned category. During the conference call, there will be discussion to ensure consensus on the decision of finalists and winner.
Jurors are reminded that judging is for material submitted by the participating Canadian publications for work published during the calendar year. Of the entries submitted, they are asked to select Gold, Silver and Honourable Mentions in each category.
3. Special and Integrated Categories
Best Single Issue, Words & Pictures, Magazines Covers, Editorial Packaging for a Single Service Article, Best New Magazine Writer, Best New Illustrator or Photographer, Infographics, Online Video, Tablet Magazine of the Year, Webste of the Year and Magazine of the Year are judge by a single jury of three people, at least one of whom is bilingual. These juries meet via conference call to determine finalists and winners.
Words & Pictures and Editorial Packaging for a Single Service Article–the jury is advised that these two categories are not art direction categories. For Words & Pictures art direction is, of course, important but the primary focus here is the integration of the writing and the photography/illustration. The jurors for these two categories do not have to assign marks to the individual pieces but should nominate up to 10 and must select a gold and silver winner.
Magazines Covers—the jurors for Covers should grade each piece out of 100, nominate up to 10 finalists and select a gold and silver winner.
Best New Magazine Writer —This award will go to a creator whose early work in print or digital publications shows the highest degree of craft and promise. The award is open to students and contributors with a maximum of two years’ experience. The intent of this award is to recognize talent new to the publishing industry. The jurors for the BNMW do not have to assign marks to the individual pieces but must select up t o three finalists and one winner.
Best New Illustrator or photographer - This award will go to a creator whose early work in print or digital publications shows the highest degree of craft and promise. The award is open to students and contributors with a maximum of three years’ experience. The intent of this award is to recognize talent new to the publishing industry. The jurors for the BNIP do not have to assign marks to the individual pieces but must select up to three finalists and one winner.
Magazine Website of the Year: This award will go to a Magazine Website that successfully fulfills its editorial mission by representing the highest journalistic standards and effectively serving its intended audience by maximizing the possibilities afforded by the medium of web-based publishing.
Tablet Magazine of the Year: This award will go to the tablet magazine edition that successfully fulfills its editorial mission by representing the highest journalistic standards and effectively serving its intended audience by maximizing the possibilities afforded by the medium of tablet publishing.
Magazine of the Year—the jurors for Magazine of the Year are responsible for identifying the magazine which exemplifies overall editorial excellence. The award should go to a magazine, which has, over the past 12 months, demonstrated consistently high standards issue after issue in all aspects of editorial contents; it should have exhibited freshness and innovation and provided service to its intended readers. Jurors do not have to assign marks to the individual pieces but should nominate up to three finalists and select only one winner.
In 1990, The National Magazine Awards Foundation introduced the first annual Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement, an award that recognizes an individual's innovation and creativity through contributions to the magazine industry.
The award is open to circulation experts, editors, marketing, sales and promotion professionals, publishers, designers, production managers - in short, to everyone in the industry. It cannot be given posthumously.
Nominations for this award are welcome from everyone in the industry. The nomination consists of a letter from the nominator indicating the candidate’s name, title and career achievements, with supporting letters from at least two (2) other individuals.
The deadline for nominations for this award is March 1. No entry fee is required.
The Judging Committee of the National Magazine Awards Foundation will consider the nominations, along with nominations from members of the Committee itself. The Board of the National Magazine Awards Foundation will select the winner.
The winner is announced at the end of April along with the nominations of the Awards. The winner is asked to attend the event with a guest, select a photographer and have a portrait taken and framed.
4. Other Procedures
Supporting our Judges
Judges in all categories receive a “survival guide” which is a written explanation of how the judging process works.
All judges are requested to participate in a conveniently scheduled conference call with other judges on their panel. Each member of the NMAF Board is asked to facilitate one call, to ensure that they understand and are engaged in the process. The rest of the calls are contracted out to someone with appropriate professional credentials.
In addition, a moderator is contracted to oversee the visual judging process and someone from the Judging Committee also attends.
Conflict of Interest
A person shall be considered ineligible to judge in a category in which that person is entered as a writer, handling editor or other contributor. A person who appears on the masthead of a magazine entered in a particular category may not serve as a judge for that category. If a person is the subject of an article, has a close association with the writer, is a regular contributor to one of the entering publications, or has any other conflict, that person may still be eligible to judge that category but may be asked to abstain from judging the entry for which a conflict of interest exists.
Honouring our commitment to reflect evolving methods of presentation and publication of content, the NMAF will review its categories on an annual basis.
Stakeholders from the industry are asked to provide feedback on the clarity of category description, the relevancy of the current roster of awards and to note any areas of content and creation that are not included.
The bottom 20 per cent of categories, in terms of the number of applicants, will be reviewed annually to ensure their ongoing viability to the Foundation and relevance to the industry.
For more information or clarification please contact us at email@example.com or 416-939-6200.