The decision to align the Kenneth R. Wilson (KRW)
and National Magazine Awards
(NMA) has ruffled some feathers in the B2B publishing world, but organizers say it was a move to cut costs in the face of shrinking financial support from the government.
The National Magazine Awards, traditionally held on a Friday night during the MagNet conference, this year was moved to Thursday (June 7) to share an evening with the KRW crowd.
Jim Glionna, president of Toronto-based trade publisher Newcom Business Media
, has been particularly vocal, sending an email to fellow KRW nominees recently informing them he and his team would not be attending this year's KRW presentation. The reason behind his decision, he stated in the email, is because the "KRW Awards for excellence in B2B journalism are clearly playing second fiddle to the National Magazine Awards. Great journalism should neither be judged on the target audience it serves nor by the amount of revenue generated by the magazine in which it appears."
Glionna clarified in an interview following the email that his intention is not to organize a mass boycott, but rather to announce his position on the matter.
Glionna also voiced his discontent through a comment on an earlier story on Masthead
discussing the joint evening. That story garnered several comments including one anonymous note calling for all trade publishers to skip the KRWs "for being treated like second-class citizens."
Jim Hall, board member of the Canadian Business Press
(CBP) which is co-producing the awards with Magazines Canada, said the decision to align the two awards events was based on financial considerations. "We did have a reduction in funding, as most awards programs did, from the Department of Canadian Heritage. There is still funding, but they've cut back significantly in terms of awards programs," said Hall. "This looked like a reasonable approach from a financial perspective to co-stage the awards at the same time, and to do it in a very professional way."
KRW and NMA officially announced a joint schedule of events in April, noting the awards presentations would be held separately, punctuated by a joint industry cocktail reception. While the NMA ticket holders will be served a sit-down dinner during that gala, if KRW attendees want to be included in that dinner they must buy a separate ticket.
However, KRW ticket holders are invited to watch the NMAs from the Carlu's Round Room and stay for dessert. That perk for KRW ticket holders was not made entirely clear in the original release; however Richard Johnson, spokesperson for both events, assured "that was part of the package from the beginning when we first put the two events together."
Meanwhile, Hall said the CBP is "in the process of developing new purposes and bylaws, with a new statement of purpose, and one of the key elements in the statement is education and the ongoing KRW awards." That involves a "very much expanded KRW" for 2013, integrating a full day of education, he added. The educational component could involve KRW judges offering their thoughts on submissions, said Hall.
"This is a transition year, and we hope it transitions to a dynamic platform," said Hall. "KRW is a super event, I've been going to it for 32 years, it's something I wouldn't miss."
Glionna said he has spoken with awards organizers following his email to fellow publishers, and mentioned he would speak to his editorial staff about whether they want to attend this year. But if Newcom does decide to go, it won't be buying as many tickets as in previous years, he said.
Whether the joint event format will continue next year, Johnson offered, "It's too early to say, there's been no decision on whether this (format) will continue, this was a plan made specifically for this year in conversation between KRW, Mags Canada and NMA (foundation)."
He said organizers will collect relevant feedback "before and after the awards before any decisions are made."