Interview Series: Matthew Halliday of The Deep

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At last year’s Digital Publishing Awards, The Deep took home the award for General Excellence in Digital Publishing, in the Small Publications category. Founded in Halifax in 2017, The Deep Magazine grew out of co-founders’ Matthew Halliday and Chelsea Murray’s desire to create a home for impactful long form journalism in Atlantic Canada. The publication has quickly carved out a niche of carefully researched and reported pieces that bring to light “stories that don’t otherwise get told,” as executive editor Halliday puts it. 

We called Halliday in Halifax to learn more about the story behind The Deep, the challenges and rewards of running a publication that focuses on one region, and what it was like to take home a DPA. 

Could you tell us a bit about how The Deep was founded?

I am the co-founder, along with my partner Chelsea. Chelsea and I met in Toronto as magazine stream students in the Ryerson Master of Journalism program. We were mutual fans of deep dive, narrative long-form. Then we became personal partners there. I’m from Alberta, and she’s from New Brunswick, and she wanted to move out east. So about five years ago we did that. We worked in communications jobs and did freelance work—I’m now a full-time freelance journalist, as well as executive editor of The Deep.

We came out here and realized, Toronto and southern Ontario are pretty well served, comparatively, by magazines, but there isn’t a robust magazine culture across Canada in different regions, necessarily. So we wanted to bring that deep dive narrative writing to the East Coast; to provide a place where writers who had the chops and the experience and the desire to do it, could do it and get paid decently to [write] here, about this region.

You know The Atavist Magazine—that was kind of the model to begin with, one big story a month. We started it up in partnership with The Coast magazine, which is the alt weekly here in Halifax—like the NOW Magazine of Halifax—they provided some in-kind support, some resources, mentorship, that kind of thing. It’s a partnership with them, but editorially independent. And rather than just covering the city here, we cover all four provinces. We launched with a Kickstarter in October 2016, and then spent the winter of 2016-2017 working away at our first crop of stories, and then launched last August.

The Deep Magazine cofounders Matthew Halliday, Executive Editor, and Chelsea Murray, Editor
The Deep Magazine co-founders, Matthew Halliday and Chelsea Murray

What do you feel are the specific challenges of operating this kind of publication with a regional focus, or specifically with a regional focus on Atlantic Canada? What makes it different from a publication that caters to the whole country?

It is a drawback and a strength, in a way, that we have a narrower audience. It’s a much smaller audience than a national publication would have— there are 2.5 million people in the Atlantic region.

This is a region that’s sort of off the editorial map of Canada. The Globe went several years without even having anyone here in the Atlantic bureau. It’s a place that doesn’t get covered a lot, and when it does get covered it’s often from a stereotypical kind of perspective. A lot of parachute journalism; a lot of reporting that plays off stereotypes of the place that are maybe outdated, or don’t reflect the way people live here.

We get to tell the stories that don’t get told otherwise. And readers here have really responded. So I think focusing on a region that’s off the map a bit actually is a strength, because people here are really hungry for that kind of thing.

Illustration of two shadowy figures walking away from a countryside home at night.
Illustration by Aziza Asat for The Deep, from Oscar Baker III’s story “A History of Violence”

Why do you think that might be the case, that this region gets sort of overlooked by other media?

Canadian media is highly concentrated in Toronto, and so there’s sort of a lack of awareness, often. I worked in Toronto media for years, and I know tons of people there, and I love them. I love the city, and I love the media and journalism community there. But nevertheless there is certainly sometimes a myopia that can develop when everybody’s in one place.

Even when people come from across the country, people develop that myopia sometimes. There’s sort of a lack of awareness, and a lack of interest in what’s going on elsewhere. Or the interest in what’s going on in that one part of the country gets conflated with national interests.

And then there’s the pure business case—it’s a smaller region. The GTA is three times the population of the entire Atlantic region, so there’s that as well.

Image of person in black winter clothing walking in snowy mountain landscape.
Photo of Labrador by Jennie Williams for The Deep, from Matthew Halliday’s recent story “Homeland.”

You mentioned that you’re also working freelance; what’s it like balancing that with full-time editorial work?

Very difficult [laughs]. I worked at St Mary’s University, which is one of the universities in the city here, doing a communications role with them, and I left that earlier this year to go full-time freelance, and it’s been a great choice. I’ve had a lot of luck and success and it’s been really good.

Part of the reason I did that was so I could spend more time on The Deep. I didn’t want to be balancing a nine to five office job with The Deep and freelance.

The Deep is basically run out of Chelsea’s and my attic in our house. It’s kind of: work all day and The Deep at night, sort of thing. There is no separation, really. It’s a lot of work. We do love the work though! To work with some of the best writers in the region, to develop these editorial relationships and this back and forth and process of revision that doesn’t really happen a lot… Working on a story for six or eight months—which is not something that I think a lot of writers here get a chance to do, unless they’re writing for an out of region publication—that’s really rewarding and fun.

What are the challenges of working on stories for such a long time? It must present some different challenges from pieces that have a fast turnaround.

Part of it is, you want to make sure you’re doing something that is timely. It’s the same challenge that anyone would have at any major magazine, where there’s six months or a year lead times. But specifically out here, a lot of writers haven’t done that, maybe. It’s new to a lot of writers. You’re going to be working on this for half a year, it’s going to require a whole bunch of revision—that’s not something that a lot of people have done, necessarily. That can be new.

But yeah, just making sure it’s a story that is going to be relevant when it’s finally published. Making sure no one else picks up on it. Then again, that is the benefit of working in a region that doesn’t kind of get the coverage it deserves: you don’t get scooped as much.

GE Small The Deep

You won the DPA for General Excellence in a small publication, and this is the award for a magazine that best fulfills its editorial mandate. I was wondering if you could say a bit about The Deep’s editorial mandate. What are its goals?

To tell those stories that don’t otherwise get told. In bullet form: to tell fascinating, entertaining, compelling, and important stories about this region that don’t otherwise get told. They don’t have to be East Coast-y in any particular way. The only stipulation is that there’s something that happened here, or that there’s some connection.

For example, we had a piece a few months ago—the writer [Oscar Baker III] is part Mi’kmaq, from the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick, and part African-American, and grew up in Florida. His piece was mostly set in Florida, and talked about growing up in that world; the tension between those two cultures that informed his upbringing. So that was mostly in the southeastern United States, but there was that Atlantic connection.

What was it like, the experience of winning the award? What did that mean for you and everyone that collaborates with you?

It was great. Our readership has been really good, we have strong readership, so we know that people are out there reading the magazine. But we’re in a bit of a bubble. Chelsea and I are just working in our attic most of the time, separated from the world. We see feedback—we see traffic on the site, and we see feedback online, and that’s all great. But it feels sort of depersonalized, kind of distant, out there. So to be recognized by our peers in the industry is fantastic.

To go back to Toronto and see a lot of the people we worked with at magazines there, and have them saying, “Hey, this is a great thing you’re doing.” To be recognized by the publishing and magazine world is really very gratifying. We’re not in it for the awards, but it definitely gives us a boost to let us know that people are out there paying attention, and we’re doing something worthwhile.


Cover illustration by Aziza Asat for The Deep Magazine, from Chelsea Murray’s story “Joe and the Whale.”

Interview conducted by Jill Blackmore Evans.

Submissions for the 2019 Digital Publishing Awards will open on January 2, 2019. Click here for everything you need to know about submitting an entry, and follow us on Twitter for the most up-to-date news. 

 

 

Thank you! From the 2018 Digital Publishing Awards

From all of us at the National Media Awards Foundation, thank you to everyone who helped make the 3rd annual Digital Publishing Awards a great success.

Special thanks to Kenny Yum—last year’s Digital Publishing Leadership Award winner—for starting off the night by congratulating the nominees and thanking the 78 volunteer judges; Adrian Lee for hosting the event and keeping the audience laughing throughout the night; and Irene Thomaidis, for introducing this year’s Digital Publishing Leadership Award winner, Brodie Fenlon.

Thanks also to Mathieu Baril (managing director of DDI Canada) who presented the winner of the Best Podcast or Audio Storytelling category! 

We are enormously grateful for our 78 judges, who are the crux of the award program. You can read more about the 2018 roster of judges here.

Many thanks to those who attended the event (and to those who followed along via the live-stream and on Twitter), and to the participants, nominees, and winners of this year’s awards. We hope you enjoyed celebrating the best of Canada’s digital talent, and we look forward to welcoming you back in 2019 for the 4th annual DPAs!

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Visit live.digitalpublishingawards.ca to view all the winners of the 2018 Digital Publishing Awards. The 2019 Call for Entries will open on January 1st, 2019. Follow us on Twitter (@DPAwards) for updates.

Photo credit: Steven Goetz Storytelling

2018 Digital Publishing Award Winners

Twitter Card - 2018 DPA Winners

The National Media Awards Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Digital Publishing Awards. This awards season saw 79 Canadian digital publications enter their best work from 2017, for consideration in 23 awards categories. 78 dedicated judges carefully evaluated the entries, deliberated upon the finalists, and on May 29th, the Gold and Silver winners were announced at the annual DPA Soirée, hosted by Adrian Lee.

20 different digital publications took home Gold and Silver medals. From them, four (HuffPost Québec, ICI Radio-Canada Première, The Deep and The Sprawl) were first-time winners.

Gold winning publications included Canadian Art, CBC News, Global News (globalnews.ca), Hakai Magazine, HuffPost Quebec, ICI Radio-Canada Première, The Globe and Mail, The Sprawl, The Walrus, and TVO.org. In most categories, the Digital Publishing Awards Gold winners received a $500 cheque alongside their award.

Taking home Silver medals were Air Canada enRoute, BuzzFeed Canada, CBC Original Podcasts, Discourse Media, Hazlitt, National Observer, Options politiques, Today’s Parent, Toronto Life, and VICE.

“Congratulations to all the winners of the third annual Digital Publishing Awards. Your success highlights not just your creativity and excellence in journalism, but your mastery of digital platforms to tell compelling stories. It is a reminder of the vast pool of talented creators, and publishers, in Canada’s digital media industry. We’re thrilled to recognize your wonderful work through the DPA program.” — Nino Di Cara, NMAF President

GENERAL EXCELLENCE IN DIGITAL PUBLISHING

The 2018 award for General Excellence in Digital Publishing was presented in three divisions: small, medium, and large publications.

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The Deep won the Gold Medal for General Excellence in Digital Publishing: Small Publications. “They’re doing remarkable work with a very small staff, using their resources intelligently so that each story has the greatest impact. Their mandate—to tell in depth stories based on the East Coast—feels not only necessary, especially with the erosion of local news, but like one that they are well-positioned to carry out, considering their balance of a considered design with engaging stories,” remarked the digital publishing awards jury. “As traditional publishers grapple with diminished capacity, it will take efforts like those of The Deep, to ensure deeper, longer stories are still told and more importantly, heard!

Honourable Mention in General Excellence in Digital Publishing: Small Publications was awarded to Fjord Review and National Observer.

Hakai Magazine received the Gold medal for General Excellence in Digital Publishing: Medium Publications. “Hakai is the realization of what a great digital magazine can be. With beautiful imagery, clean design, crisp writing, and well-integrated digital features, Hakai sets the standard for a high-quality digital publication,” said the Digital Publishing Awards jury. “Everything about the site is in support of its content and the reader, as it should be.”

Hakai Magazine received six other awards in various categories, including a second Gold in Best Online Video – Feature for “Here Be Tiny Dragons (and Other Micro Beasts).”

Honourable Mention General Excellence in Digital Publishing: Medium Publications was given to Passport and Today’s Parent.

The winner of the General Excellence in Digital Publishing: Large Publication award went to The Globe and Mail.  The jury had this to say: “The Globe and Mail team produced an extremely innovative body of work. Their editorial mandate was not only fulfilled, it was surpassed and truly represented the highest of journalistic standards.”

Le Devoir and Winnipeg Free Press received Honourable Mention in Digital Publishing: Large Publications.

EMERGING EXCELLENCE AWARD

Elizabeth Melito, CBC News

ElizabethMelito

Elizabeth Melito of CBC News was recognized as this year’s recipient of the Emerging Excellence Award. The Emerging Excellence Award jury was “exceptionally impressed by Elizabeth’s clear demonstration of leadership and initiative in a large and respected organization like CBC News. She joined CBC News, her first media job, in 2015. In a short time she has earned a high level of respect and responsibility and has developed two custom long-form development tools that have been rolled out nationally at CBC.”

 

 

DIGITAL PUBLISHING LEADERSHIP AWARD

Brodie Fenlon, CBC News

Brodie Fenlon CBCBrodie Fenlon,  the Senior Director of Daily News and Bureaus for the CBC, was the recipient of the 2018 Digital Publishing Leadership Award. The award honours an individual whose career contributions to Canadian digital publishing deserve recognition and celebration.

 

 

 

 

WINNERS HIGHLIGHTS

The leading publication in this year’s Digital Publishing Awards is The Globe and Mail. The “Unfounded” investigation—led by Dennis Choquett, Robyn Doolittle, Laura Blenkinsop, Jeremy Agius, and Michael Pereira—won Gold in both Best Digital Editorial Package and Best News Coverage.

Hakai Magazine was also a top-winning publication, receiving two Gold medals, two Silver medals, and three Honourable Mentions. Jude Isabella, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, contributed to three of those winning pieces.

 

“Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2017,” published in Air Canada enRoute, won two silver medals, in the categories of Best Online Video: Short and Best Digital Editorial Package.

 

Global News (globalnews.ca) was a two-time winner: “Canada’s #ToxicSecret” was the Gold winner in the Best Social Storytelling category, while “Fire Watch: B.C. Wildfire Coverage” was the Silver winner in the Best News Coverage category.

 

Visit live.digitalpublishingawards.ca to view the winners in all 23 categories. Follow the Digital Publishing Awards on Twitter @DPAwards and #DPA18.

A complete list of the nominees and winners, in all 23 categories, can be found at live.digitalpublishingawards.ca.

2018 DIGITAL PUBLISHING AWARDS RESULTS

Emerging Excellence Award
Elizabeth Melito, CBC News

Digital Publishing Leadership Award
Brodie Fenlon, CBC News

General Excellence in Digital Publishing: Small
The Deep

General Excellence in Digital Publishing: Medium
Hakai Magazine

General Excellence in Digital Publishing: Large
The Globe and Mail

Best Digital Editorial Package
GOLD: Unfounded, The Globe and Mail
SILVER: Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2017, Air Canada enRoute

Best Blog or Online-Only Column
GOLD: Lauren McKeon, TVO.org
SILVER: Ici et ailleurs: Chronique d’Alain Noël, Options politiques

Best News Coverage: Small Newsroom
GOLD : The Sprawl: 2017 Election Edition, The Sprawl
SILVER: Kinder Morgan’s Pipeline in Canada, National Observer

Best News Coverage
GOLD: Unfounded, The Globe and Mail
SILVER: Fire Watch: B.C. Wildfire Coverage, Global News (globalnews.ca)

Best Feature Article: Short
GOLD: Aleppo Mayor, written by Cathal Kelly, The Globe and Mail
SILVER: This Is How Your Hyperpartisan Political News Gets made, written by Craig Silverman, BuzzFeed Canada

Best Feature Article: Long
GOLD: The Making of Joseph Boyden, written by Eric Andrew-Gee, The Globe and Mail
SILVER: Death of a Modern Wolf, written by J.B. MacKinnon,  Hakai Magazine

Fiction
GOLD: Young Tomorrow, written by Sean Michaels, The Globe and Mail
SILVER: Half-Pipe, written by Zoe Whittall, Hazlitt

Best Personal Essay
GOLD: Black on Bay Street, written by Hadiya Roderique, The Globe and Mail
SILVER: Kids of addiction, written by Trevor Jang, Discourse Media

Best Arts & Culture Story
GOLD: A Road Trip with Christopher Pratt, written by Mireille Egan, Canadian Art
SILVER: Kent Monkman: The modern touch of an old master, written by Dakshana Bascaramurty, The Globe and Mail

Best Science and Technology Story
GOLD: Understanding the quantum computing revolution, written by Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail
SILVER: Watts in the Water, written by Bruce Grierson, Hakai Magazine

Best Service Feature: Lifestyle
GOLD: Le Montréal oublié, written by Daphnée Hacker-B., HuffPost Québec
SILVER: Where to Eat Now, written by Mark Pupo, Toronto Life

Best Service Feature: Family & Health
GOLD: How do I talk to my five-year-old about white supremacy?, written by Kalli Anderson, The Walrus
SILVER: Fortunate Son, written by Erin Anderssen, The Globe and Mail

Best Online Video: Short
GOLD: How close are we to the end of the world? Check the Doomsday Clock, The Globe and Mail
SILVER: Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2017 – Battuto, Air Canada enRoute

Best Online Video: Feature
GOLD: Here Be Tiny Dragons (and Other Micro Beasts), Hakai Magazine
SILVER: The ultimate gift: How two dads finally got their son, Today’s Parent

Best Online Video: Mini-Doc
GOLD: Dancing Towards the Light, CBC News
SILVER, Age of Consent, VICE

Best Podcast & Audio Storytelling
GOLD: Disparue(s), ICI Radio-Canada Première
SILVER: Someone Knows Something – Dee & Moore, CBC Original Podcasts

Best Digital Design
GOLD: Census 2016, CBC News
SILVER: The Globe and Mail, The Globe and Mail

Best Photo Storytelling
GOLD: Canada through the lens of Syrian refugees, The Globe and Mail
SILVER: Single Mothers of Afghanistan, The Globe and Mail

Best Social Storytelling
GOLD: Canada’s #ToxicSecret, Global News (globalnews.ca)
SILVER: Coming to Canada: The Immigration and Refugee System, CBC News

Best Digital Initiative
GOLD: A City Destroyed: Experience the Halifax Explosion, CBC News
SILVER: Weigh Anchor, The Globe and Mail

Congratulations to all the winners!

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The Digital Publishing Awards gratefully acknowledges the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canadian Periodical Fund, the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

The NMAF thanks its partners and generous sponsors: Cision, DDI Canada, Readers Digest Foundation and Very Good Studios.

The NMAF offers its sincere thanks to the highly skilled professionals who generously contributed their time and expertise as judges of the Digital Publishing Awards competition.

 

 

Brodie Fenlon to Receive the 2018 Digital Publishing Leadership Award

Brodie Fenlon - Twitter Card

The National Media Awards Foundation (NMAF) is proud to announce that the CBC’s Senior Director of Daily News and Bureaus Brodie Fenlon is this year’s recipient of the Digital Publishing Leadership Award, which honours an individual whose career contributions to Canadian digital publishing deserve recognition and celebration. Brodie will be presented with his award – the highest individual distinction from the Digital Publishing Award program –  at the DPA Soirée on May 29th.

Brodie Fenlon CBC.jpg

Brodie’s career in journalism began after graduating from Western University’s journalism program, when he started working as a newspaper reporter for the London Free Press and the Toronto Sun. In 2007, Brodie switched from print to digital journalism, taking a position as digital editor at The Globe and Mail. Angus Frame, the Senior Vice President of Digital Products and New Product Development at Torstar Corp., says he takes “special pride in being the person who brought Brodie into the world of digital news (…).” Angus goes on to say that Brodie was “one of the best hires I have ever made.”

Brodie spent four years at The Globe and Mail before switching gears and becoming the Managing Editor of News at The Huffington Post Canada; there, he played a strategic role in launching the first international edition of the U.S. website. Angus Frame calls Brodie a “transformative leader at The Huffington Post and now at CBC,” as Brodie has since joined Canada’s national public broadcaster’s team, overhauling their digital news strategy. He “has been a force of nature since the day he stepped through the door,” notes Mari Ito, Executive Producer of Daily News at CBC News. Today, Brodie is the Senior Director of Daily News and Bureaus for the CBC.

At the CBC, Brodie has overseen the launch of new iOS and Android apps, the mobile site, and a number of interactive tools and templates. Under Brodie’s leadership, CBCNews.ca won last year’s Digital Publishing Award for General Excellence.

“He is a marvel,” says Greg Reame, Managing Editor of Daily News at CBC News. “With no apparent understanding of quantum physics, Brodie manages to warp the space-time continuum. It’s the only way to explain how he crams a week’s worth of industry and initiative into each 24-hour day.”

Brodie’s determination to drive digital innovation is lauded by his peers, with Angus Frame describing Brodie as an “incredibly positive and galvanizing force that can transform a staid or negative culture into a creative and optimistic one.” Mari Ito cites Brodie’s “boundless energy, positivity, and knowledge that helped transform CBC News into a place that not only embraces digital, but does so enthusiastically,” while Sasha Nagy (Managing Editor, Video at HuffPost Canada) highlights Brodie’s “enormous hunger to learn, to absorb all he could in order to untap the potential that digital media presented.”

Brodie’s pursuit for digital innovation is matched with a desire to build camaraderie in the newsroom. “He has been able to lead his newsrooms through challenging times and difficult stories, never losing their full support,” says Sasha Nagy, of Brodie’s time at The Huffington Post Canada. Clearly, this is a factor of Brodie’s leadership that he carries with him from newsroom to newsroom, as Mario Ito notes that, “despite his harrowingly packed schedule he makes time to be out on the [CBC] newsroom floor, checking in and connecting with his staff. Whenever anyone asks for one-on-one time with him, he makes it happen. When people are stressed, confused or worried, they know they can go to Brodie because he listens.”

CBC’s digital coverage of major news everts serves as a reflection of Brodie’s ability to lead a well-connected team of digital innovators, as Greg Reaume notes their “impressive digital coverage of major news events including the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the #MeToo movement, the Parliament Hill shooting, Donald Trump’s presidency, and the plight of refugees and migrants.”

Though his career path, brimming with professional achievements, is in itself impressive, Brodie’s peers were all careful to note his kind, generous personality. He is “genetically incapable of meanness” says Greg Reaume, while Sasha Nagy recognizes his knack for balancing work and family, remaining the “most decent journalist [he has] ever had the pleasure of working with.”

“Brodie is the kind of leader who inspires the people working for him and around him to be better,” says Mari Ito.

For his commitment to digital innovation through commendable leadership skills, the NMAF is honoured to present Brodie Fenlon with the 2018 Digital Publishing Leadership Award.

Nominations for the 2018 Digital Publishing Awards will be announced tomorrow at 10am EST. The Digital Publishing Leadership Award will be presented at the 2018 DPA Soirée on May 29th in Toronto. Tickets will be available for purchase on April 26th at digitalpublishingawards.ca.

 

Best Practices: Sharpen Your Twitter Skills

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If used wisely, Twitter is an amazing tool to help DPA and NMA winners and nominees expand their network and help spread the word about their awards and their work in general.  The NMAF is pleased to present the second volume of our Best Practices Guide, Sharpen Your Twitter Skills

To help DPA and NMA winners – publishers, writers, and creators – make the most of Twitter, we’ve created a guide dedicated entirely to this social media tool! From Twitter Moments to hashtags, our experts share their secrets to optimize tweets and build a strong community of followers.

The guide details how journalists can use Twitter to incite conversation, the goldmine of information within Twitter analytics, and an example of a highly successful Twitter campaign. It shares anecdotes on how NMA and DPA award-winners, such as Desmond Cole, have created space on Twitter for meaningful dialogues, and advice from Chatelaine’s social media senior editor, Haley Overland: “Build your audience… every damn day.” To start building that audience and expand your digital reach, click here to download our 2017 Best Practices Guide.

About Winners’ Circle

In November 2016, the National Media Awards Foundation presented the second Winners’ Circle event, an exclusive activity for DPA and NMA winners and nominees to meet, mingle, pitch, and learn. We partnered with Twitter Canada for this event, at which Jennifer Hollett (Twitter Canada’s head of news and government) spoke on growing your Twitter presence.

Please stay tuned for when we announce our next Winners’ Circle event. For updates, you can follow the DPAs on Twitter and Facebook