Logos for the National Magazine Awards and Magazine Grands Prix, two awards programs merging into one.

Logos for the National Magazine Awards and Magazine Grands Prix, two awards programs merging into one.

The National Magazine Awards and the Magazine Grands Prix are merging into a single awards program instead of two separate systems honouring the same things, the organizations announced Wednesday.

In September 2016, the Grands Prix were established by Magazines Canada—the national trade association—after several Canadian magazine publishers approached the organization’s board concerned about award distribution in Canada. Some people—including Magazines Canada chair Douglas Knight—felt too many awards were being handed out and that existing award categories didn’t properly recognize editorial and art design team contributions.

“Our view was, if we’re going to the top magazine awards program in the country, let’s make it really, really focused, and let’s have those awards really mean something,” Knight told the Globe and Mail last year.

However, it didn’t take long for the two awards to come together under one umbrella.

“[Both organizations] realized it was in the best interest of the industry to have one single awards program,” National Media Awards Foundation communications manager Émilie Pontbriand told the RRJ. “Based on comments they received from stakeholders, it was what the industry wished for.”

Over the summer, the NMAF and Magazines Canada worked together intensively to agree on a plan to merge in a way that would satisfy both organizations and the industry at-large, Pontbriand said.

Matthew Holmes, Magazines Canada’s CEO, said since the launch of the Grands Prix last year, the National Magazine Awards underwent “a significant revision and rethink,” which led to the union of the two programs.

“During the negotiations we came to the conclusion that we now shared more in common than any differences we might have,” Holmes says.

“Ultimately, we all agreed that the magazine community is best served by one unified program with focused categories.”

Holmes said magazine creators and contributors deserve to be celebrated and honoured, but “too many awards can dilute that.” Magazines Canada’s paid fellowships won’t be affected by the new awards merger, and the organization is planning on expanding the program, he added.

According to a joint press release, 10 Magazine Grands Prix categories will be incorporated into the National Magazine Awards stable of honours, which includes awards for long-form feature writing, best new magazine writer and one-of-a-kind storytelling, among others. In total, the new awards program will feature 29 individual categories.

This award, which demonstrates overall excellence, formerly known as Magazine of the Year, will now be called the Magazine Grand Prix.  Individual Grands Prix will also be given for outstanding achievement in general interest, service, lifestyle, fashion & beauty, art & literary, and special interest magazine publishing.

With the awards merger comes changes to the NMAF board, a third of which will now consist of magazine community members appointed with consultation from Magazines Canada.

The first appointees are Jessica Johnson, the executive editor and creative director of the Walrus, and Dominique Ritter, Reader’s Digest Canada’s editor-in-chief. Canada History publisher Melony Ward has been elected the National Magazine Awards vice-president, and CBC News chief of staff Kenny Yum will serve as the vice-president for the Digital Publishing Awards.

The changes officially come into effect on Dec. 1, three days before the call for award entries opens.