Categories & Submission Requirements

Category Definitions

Canadian digital publishers—including those that support established brands in consumer & B2B magazines, newspapers, broadcast and other journalism, as well as those that serve their audiences exclusively as digital brands—are eligible to participate, including those that publish in either English or French.

Individual creator awards have a cash prize of $500 for Gold winners. Not all categories have a cash prize.

As part of our commitment to transparency, we have published specific judging criteria for each category, so that submitters understand the measures by which the judges consider each submission.

**If the content you are submitting was sponsored all or in some part, please advise the judges in the background statement.  

1. Best Digital Editorial Package

Honours the outstanding and collaborative work of an editorial team—editors and content creators—in creating an original series of related or thematic editorial content that best serves its intended audience by maximizing the potential of digital publishing. The quality of the storytelling as well as the value to readers will be judged.

There is no cash prize with this award.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and providing context for the editorial package. Submit the main URL of the Editorial Package and up to three (3) additional URLs to specific content in the package. Judges will be advised to explore all elements of the package to evaluate functionality and user experience as well as the quality and presentation of content.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Digital Editorial Package:

  • Overall quality of writing and reporting, including style and creativity;
  • Overall quality of the packaging and presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the package engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the editorial package.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s)

2. Best Column

Honours the online-only recurring column that best serves its intended audience through commentary, opinion, visual, audio, and/or interactive elements. This award recognizes the body of a work of a single columnist.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and providing context for the blog. Submit the main URL of column and up to three (3) URLs to specific content. Judges will be advised to explore the column section to evaluate the quality and presentation of content, as well as functionality and user experience.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Column:

  • Overall quality of writing and reporting, including style and creativity;
  • Overall quality of the presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the column engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the column.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s).

3. Best News Coverage (Small Newsroom)

Honours excellence in news reporting of a single topic or event based on the enterprise and skill of the reporter or team of reporters, including insightful analysis and compelling narrative. This award will go to the digital publication that best serves its audience through timely, original reporting on any single topic or event of local, provincial, national or international significance. This category is intended for small, local publications with an editorial staff (digital and print if applicable) of less than 10 members.

There is no cash prize with this award.

4. Best News Coverage

Honours excellence in news reporting of a single topic or event based on the enterprise and skill of the reporter or team of reporters, including insightful analysis and compelling narrative. This award will go to the digital publication that best serves its audience through timely, original reporting on any single topic or event of local, provincial, national or international significance.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and providing context for the news event, and URLs to up to five (5) articles or elements that demonstrate coverage. Judges will be advised to evaluate functionality and user experience as well as the quality and presentation of content.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best News Coverage:

  • Overall quality of writing and reporting;
  • Overall quality of the presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the news coverage engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the news coverage.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s).

There is no cash prize with this award.

5. Best Feature Article: Short

Honours the best short feature story (maximum 1500 words) in terms of the overall quality of writing, including but not limited to reporting, personal essays, criticism, reviews and other non-fiction genres. The feature must have been written for a digital platform.

6. Best Feature Article: Long

Honours the best long feature story (minimum 1500 words) in terms of the overall quality of writing, including but not limited to reporting, personal essays, criticism, reviews and other non-fiction genres. The feature must have been written for a digital platform.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and providing context for the feature. Submit a URL to the feature article to be judged. Judges will be advised to evaluate functionality and user experience as well as the quality and presentation of content.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Feature Article:

  • Overall quality of the presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the feature engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall quality of writing and reporting, including style and creativity;
  • Overall impact of the feature story.

NOTE: A story should not be judged solely on the quality of writing, but on ALL elements of the storytelling including the digital components.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s).

7. Fiction

Honours a work of short fiction first published by the publication. The story must have been written for a digital platform.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and providing context for the story. Submit a URL to the story to be judged. Judges will be advised to evaluate functionality and user experience as well as the quality and presentation of content.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Fiction:

  • Overall quality of the storytelling, including style and creativity;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the story engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the story.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Other Contributor(s).

8. Best Personal Essay

Honours the best overall story in which the writer’s perspective and/or personal experience is the main focus. The personal essay must have been written for a digital platform.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and providing context for the feature. Submit a URL to the feature article to be judged. Judges will be advised to evaluate functionality and user experience as well as the quality and presentation of content.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Feature Article:

  • Overall quality of the storytelling, including style and creativity;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the feature engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the feature story.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Other Contributor(s).

9. Best Arts & Culture Storytelling

Honours the best overall story dealing with issues or subjects of arts, culture or entertainment, including essays, reviews, reporting and/or literary journalism. The story must have been written for a digital platform.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and providing context for the feature. Submit a URL to the feature article to be judged. Judges will be advised to evaluate functionality and user experience as well as the quality and presentation of content.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Arts & Culture:

  • Overall quality of the storytelling, including style and creativity;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the feature engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the feature story.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Other Contributor(s).

10. Best Science and Technology Storytelling

Honours the best overall story dealing with issues or subjects of science or technology, including investigative reporting, analysis and/or profiles. The story must have been written for a digital platform.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and providing context for the story. Submit a URL to the article to be judged. Judges will be advised to evaluate functionality and user experience as well as the quality and presentation of content.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Science and Technology Story:

  • Overall quality of writing and reporting, including style and creativity;
  • Overall quality of the presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content. 
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the article engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the article.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s).

11. Best Service Feature

Honours the best digital service journalism feature story that focuses on topics such as travel, recreation and lifestyle (including beauty and fashion, food, sports, hobbies, design and décor), careers and personal finance, education, or family and health, with an emphasis on excellence in writing, reporting, and packaging of content. Entries may consist partially of repurposed content but must have been created and designed specifically for a digital platform.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and providing context for the feature, and submit a URL to the feature article to be judged. Judges will be advised to evaluate functionality and user experience as well as the quality and presentation of content.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Service Feature:

  • Overall quality of writing and reporting, including style and creativity;
  • Overall quality of the presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content. 
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the feature engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the feature story.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Photographer(s); Art Director(s); Designer(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s).

12. Best Online Video: Short

Honours creative excellence in the production of a video by a digital publisher that is less than three (3) minutes in length. The video must have been produced for a digital platform. There is no cash prize with this award.

13. Best Online Video: Feature

Honours creative excellence in the production of a video by a digital publisher that is between three and longer than five (5) minutes in length. The video must have been produced for a digital platform. There is no cash prize with this award. *Videos that up to 5:30 minutes in length may be entered in this category OR in the Mini-doc category. However, the same video cannot be entered in both categories. Submitters must determine which category is best suited for the video submitted.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and providing context for the video. Submit a URL to the video to be judged. Judges will be advised that the overall quality and impact of the video relative to its intended audience, and not its length or subject matter, should be considered.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Online Video:

  • Overall quality of video production, including videography and video editing;
  • Overall quality of the video content, reporting;
  • Overall impact of the video: How successfully does the subject matter engage its intended audience?

Note: The length of the video should not be a primary consideration in evaluating the overall excellence of the video.

This category rewards: Reporter(s); Video Producer(s); Video Editor(s); Videographer(s); Director(s); Other Contributor(s).

14. Best Online Video: Mini-Doc

Honours creative excellence in the production of a video by a digital publisher that is longer than five (5) minutes in length. The video must have been produced for a digital platform.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and providing context for the video. Submit a URL to the video to be judged. Judges will be advised that the overall quality and impact of the video relative to its intended audience, and not its length or subject matter, should be considered.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Online Video:

  • Overall quality of video production, including videography and video editing;
  • Overall quality of the video content, reporting;
  • Overall impact of the video: How successfully does the subject matter engage its intended audience?

This category rewards: Reporter(s); Video Producer(s); Video Editor(s); Videographer(s); Director(s); Other Contributor(s).

15. Best Podcast

Honours the podcast series that best serves its intended audience. The originality of the theme and the quality of production will be judged, as well as creative use of the podcasting or audio medium. Submissions must consist of 3 episodes.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and describing the podcast; submit a URL to the main point of entry for the podcast series; and submit URLs to 3 specific episodes to be judged. Judges will be advised to evaluate the overall quality of the audio content and production (including reporting, mixing and editing) as well as its impact on the intended audience.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Podcast Series:

  • Overall quality of the audio production, including mixing and editing;
  • Overall quality of the audio content, including reporting;
  • Overall impact of the podcast: How successfully does the subject matter engage its intended audience?

Note: The length of the podcast should not be a primary consideration in evaluating the overall excellence of the podcast series.

16. Best Digital Design

Honours the digital publication with the most successful and original overall combination of visual and graphic design elements with functionality and user experience. Submissions may include, but not limited to: entire websites, micro-sites, tablet editions, mobile apps and one-off projects of any kind.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and providing context for the digital design or design brief, including which platform(s) the design is intended for. Submit a URL to the main point of entry for design to be evaluated.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Digital Design:

  • Overall quality of the design elements, including design architecture and integration of written visual, graphic-design, multimedia and other elements;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the design contribute to a successful presentation of content and engage the publication’s intended audience?
  • Overall impact of the design as a whole, including design innovation.

Note: Conformity to the latest trends in visual style is not a criterion. Judges are requested to consciously avoid a faddish sensibility. Aesthetic concerns must be balanced with the practical.

This category rewards: Digital Designer(s); Digital Developer(s); Graphic Designer(s); Other Contributor(s).

This award includes a cash prize of $500.

17. Best Photo Storytelling

Honours outstanding use of photography to tell a story, including photojournalism, photo essay, photo galleries, conceptual photography and photo-illustration. Entries must consist of a series of photographs commissioned by the publication and/or brand. Partially repurposed content is eligible, but entries must have been created and designed specifically for a digital platform.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 300 words) introducing and providing context for the story. Submit a URL to the story to be judged. Judges will be advised to evaluate functionality and user experience as well as the quality and presentation of story.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Photo Storytelling:

  • Overall quality of the photography and the art direction;
  • Overall quality of the presentation of visual, interactive and/or multimedia content;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the publication’s photo storytelling engage the intended audience?
  • Overall impact of the photo storytelling.

Note: The quality of the text (if applicable) should not be a primary consideration in evaluating the overall excellence of Best Photo Storytelling.

This category rewards: Content Creator(s); Publisher(s); Editor(s); Digital Developer(s); Digital Designer(s); Other Contributor(s).

18. Best Social Storytelling

Honours the digital publication that best tells a story using one or more social-media platforms. Storytelling elements may include but are not limited to text, audio, video, photographs, illustrations, infographics, and design elements.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 500 words) that A) introduces the publication to the jury; B) articulates the publication’s strategy for social storytelling; C) provides context for the development and deployment of social storytelling; and D) comments on the impact of the social storytelling. Submit a URL to each of the social media pages or elements to be evaluated.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Social Storytelling:

  • Overall quality of the social storytelling content and design elements;
  • Innovation and creativity in the development, deployment and/or design of social storytelling elements;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the publication’s social storytelling engage the intended audience?
  • Overall impact of the social storytelling.

This category rewards: Content Creator(s); Publisher(s); Editor(s); Digital Developer(s); Digital Designer(s); Other Contributor(s).

There is no cash prize with this award.

19. Best Editorial Newsletter *NEW

Honours the outstanding work of an individual or editorial team in creating original and engaging content via a regular email series that best serves its intended audience by maximizing the potential of digital publishing. Digital elements may include but are not limited to text, audio, photographs, illustrations, infographics, and visual elements. Newsletters must be designed specifically for the email platform. They should feature original content and not simply a reproduction of the publication’s website.

This award recognizes email content which is editorial in nature. The newsletter can make use of reporting done for the publication’s other properties. Emails created for marketing or promotional purposes, or for the sole or main purpose of providing readers with links to the publication’s website content, should not be submitted for this category.

The quality of the content as well as the value to readers will be judged. There is no cash prize with this award.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 500 words) that A) introduces the publication to the jury; B) articulates the publication’s strategy for newsletters; C) provides context for the development and deployment of the emails; and D) comments on the impact of the newsletter. Submit URLs to three newsletters to be evaluated.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Newsletter:

  • Overall quality of the content and the design elements, relevance of the theme;
  • Successful integration of written visual, graphic-design, and other elements;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the publication’s newsletter series engage the intended audience?
  • Overall impact of the newsletter series.

This category rewards: Content Creator(s); Publisher(s); Editor(s); Digital Developer(s); Digital Designer(s); Other Contributor(s).

There is no cash prize with this award.

20. Innovation in Digital Storytelling

Honours an innovative digital creation, project or concept (a user-facing tool, an application, a presentation of data, etc.), or an innovation in a project that leverages data-driven technology or design (graphics, trend analyses, interactive tools) to enhance the storytelling, the audience engagement and/or experience.

Submission Requirements: Submit a brief statement (max 500 words) introducing and providing context for innovation, and submit URLs to each of the platforms or components to be evaluated.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Innovation in Digital Storytelling:

  • Overall quality of the content elements;
  • Innovation and creativity in the development, deployment and/or concept of digital feature;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the innovation engage the publication’s intended audience?
  • Overall impact of the innovation.

This category rewards: Publisher(s); Editor(s); Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Digital Designer(s); Other Contributor(s).

There is no cash prize with this award.

21. Emerging Excellence Award

Honours an individual whose early work in Canadian digital publishing shows the highest degree of craft and promise. This award may recognize a writer, visual creator, designer, developer, publisher or other young professional who has demonstrated excellence and potential in one or more areas of Canadian digital publishing. This award is open to any individual under the age of 30. Nominations for this award should come from one or more colleagues or mentors of the individual.

Submission Requirements: Entries must consist of a letter of introduction (PDF) from a publisher, editor, art director, or mentor, which should include A) a brief bio of the candidate; B) a summary of their achievements; and C) links to specific work and media to be considered by the jury. The submission may also include supporting letters or testimonials from other colleagues, as well as images and screen grabs, provided the entire submission consists of a single PDF file not more than 5 pages in length.

Judging Criteria: The jury should consider the following criteria in evaluating the Emerging Excellence Award:

  • Quality & Creativity: How successfully does the candidate’s professional work demonstrate a commitment to creative and high-quality digital journalism or content creation?
  • Impact: How successfully has the candidate made a positive impact on their work environment, colleagues, and/or Canadian digital publishing?
  • Potential: How successfully do the candidate’s achievements to date demonstrate the potential for future success in digital publishing?

This category may reward: Publisher; Editor; Writer; Visual Creator; Digital Content Creator; Digital Developer; Digital Designer.

The entry fee for this award is $25.

22. Digital Publishing Leadership Award

Honours an individual whose career contributions to Canadian digital publishing deserve recognition and celebration. This award may recognize a writer, visual creator, designer, developer, publisher or other digital publishing professional who has demonstrated leadership, inspiration, creativity and achievement in one or more areas of Canadian digital publishing. Nominations for this award should come from three or more colleagues of the individual.

Submission Requirements: Entries must consist of a letter of introduction (PDF) from a publisher, editor, art director, or other colleague, which should include A) a brief bio of the candidate; B) a summary of their career achievements; and C) links to specific work and media to be considered by the jury. The submission must also include supporting letters or testimonials from at least two (2) other colleagues. The entire submission should consist of a single PDF file not more than 10 pages in length. Applications will be kept under consideration for two (2) years.

Judging Process: The jury for this award will be comprised of members of the NMAF Board of Directors and senior members of the Canadian digital publishing industry, who will consider all applicants and vote on the winner. Candidates not selected will remain under consideration for two additional years. The jury will consider 4 main criteria pertaining to each candidate:

  • Quality & Creativity: How successfully do the candidate’s professional achievements demonstrate a commitment to creative and high-quality digital journalism?
  • Impact: How successfully has the candidate made a positive impact on their work environment, colleagues, and Canadian digital publishing?
  • Leadership: How successfully has the candidate demonstrated a commitment to fostering development and innovation in Canadian digital publishing, and to inspiring their colleagues toward achieving excellence?

This category may reward: Publisher; Editor; Writer; Visual Creator; Digital Content Creator; Digital Developer; Digital Designer.

There is no cash prize with this award.

The entry fee for this award is $25.

23. General Excellence in Digital Publishing

Small, Medium and Large Publications

Honours the publications that most successfully fulfill their editorial mandate, represent the highest journalistic standards, and effectively serve their intended audience by maximizing the possibilities afforded by the medium of digital publishing. Three awards for General Excellence will be presented, based on the size* of the publications (small; medium; and large).  Eligible publications include online-only as well as digital properties of magazines, newspapers, broadcasters and B2B publications.

*Each publication submitting for General Excellence are asked to provide specific information and data (see Submission Requirements for details). The breakdown between small, medium and large publications will be determined based on the entries received, to ensure a fair competition between participants in each division.

Submission Requirements: Complete the online Application Form, including an attached PDF that answers the following questions: A) describe the editorial mandate of the publication; B) highlight the achievements of the publication during the past year; C) provide relevant data on unique visitors per month, page views per month and growth (2018 vs 2017 or since launch if the publication was created in 2018); D) indicate the size of the editorial team/newsroom (for publications that also publish a print or broadcast edition, the number must include all members of the editorial team) and the number of regular collaborators; and E) include links to specific content or elements for the jury’s attention. Submit the main URL of the publication. Submit a PDF that includes all of your additional/supporting documents. Judges will be advised to explore and evaluate the publication as is, during the judging period (approximately March-April 2019), as well as to evaluate specific elements included in the Application Form.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Digital Publication of the Year:

  • Overall quality of the content and design elements;
  • Innovation and creativity in the development, deployment and/or design of digital content and elements;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the publication engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact: How successfully does the publication deliver on its editorial mandate and maximize the possibilities of digital publishing?

This category rewards: Publisher(s); Editor(s); Digital Developer(s); Digital Designer(s); Other Contributor(s).

There is no cash prize with this award.