Register Friday | December 14 | 2018

An Acceptance Speech

NMA 35

Last night at the National Magazine Awards, Maisonneuve won the prestigious Magazine of the Year. The following text is, roughly, Maisonneuve editor-in-chief Drew Nelles' acceptance speech.

My name is Drew Nelles and I'm the editor-in-chief of Maisonneuve. I can't tell you how happy I am to be standing before you today. First, I'd like to get thank-yous out of the way. Thanks, of course, to everyone at the National Magazine Awards. Thanks to Maisonneuve's publisher, Jennifer Varkonyi, who does all the hard. unglamorous work that actually keeps the magazine running. Thank you to our art director Anna Minzhulina, who designs Maisonneuve into the thing of elegance that it is. Thank you to Amelia Schonbek, our associate editor, and Madeline Coleman, who was our associate editor last year, for helping to shape the magazine's vision.

I'd also like to thank some people who don't get enough recognition: interns. Thanks to Ian Beattie, Jaela Bernstien, Peter Braul, Mick Cote, Max Halparin, Diana Kole, Alex Manley, Sara McCulloch, Eric Mutrie and Amie Watson. Thanks of course to all our wonderful contributors, who made this such an amazing year. And a special thanks to Maisonneuve's founding editors, Derek Webster and Carmine Starnino, who took me on as an intern in 2008 and, just a few years later, put me in the editor-in-chief's chair.

Maisonneuve was founded a decade ago this year, in the belief that Canada needed a magazine with a broad intellectual scope, a love of beauty and a sense of play. Canada has a huge number of large mass-market and trade magazines, and a huge number of small literary magazines, but the country has very few serious general-interest titles to occupy that vast middle ground—publications that invite readers to learn more about the place and time they live in, that challenge readers without speaking down to them. It's hard to imagine any magazine other than Maisonneuve publishing a five-thousand word meditation on the meaning of "return" in the Western canon, or an unflinching seven-thousand-word account of Occupy Toronto. So here we are, a magazine willing to take risks, to alienate and provoke—and, perhaps most importantly, to not be too sombre or self-righteous about it. We have a small but loyal subscriber base that insists on keeping us around, and we're eternally grateful to them.

We often talk about our industry in terms of crisis. There's no doubt that journalism generally, and magazines specifically, are going through a tumultuous period. But to all you publishers of big commercial magazines in the audience tonight who fear for your titles' future, I say: welcome to the world of small magazines. Magazines like Maisonneuve have always struggled for attention, and, to me, the future doesn't seem much darker than the past. In fact, it looks pretty bright.

That brings me to an important point. Now more than ever, Canadian readers and writers and artists need to ask themselves what kind of magazines we want. The truth is that, because we'll never be a commercially viable entity, Maisonneuve needs your support. So do other magazines of our size and ethos. We don't have to worry about pissing off advertisers, because God knows we don't have many of those. We don't have to worry about pissing off a parent company, because no media conglomerate in the world would be dumb enough to take on an anglophone magazine with a French name.

But that freedom comes at a price. For magazines like Maisonneuve to continue thriving, we need governments dedicated to funding arts and culture. We need readers who demand thoughtful writing. And we need contributors who are passionate about what they do. We all have a role to play in ensuring that Maisonneuve and its peers survive the twenty-first century—and that's especially true of the people sitting in this room tonight. So, at the risk of sounding demanding, I'd like to ask everyone here to think about what you can personally do to support great magazine journalism: writing that serves no commercial interests, writing that bows down to no metric or measurement, writing that confronts rather than fawns. In short, ask yourself what you can do to support writing for writing's sake. Thank you.

Subscribe to Maisonneuve today.

Related on maisonneuve.org:

—Maisonneuve Wins Magazine of the Year
—Maisonneuve Nominated for 9 NMAs
—Our Tenth Anniversary Issue

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