YorkU named top university magazine in Canada

York University’s YorkU magazine is a winner. It beat large university and college publications from across the country to take gold for Best Magazine in the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education’s 2008 Prix d’Excellence competition.

Not only that, YorkU also earned two silver awards from CCAE – one for Best Article, another for Best Photograph.

"The magazine has a real urbane and entertaining feel. A sense of humour and nice use of typography throughout. Clearly this publication is meeting its goals and connecting with alumni and stakeholders," said the CCAE judges. 

York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri congratulated the YorkU team saying: "This is a well-deserved recognition of your talent, dedication and hard work, and I know York joins me in congratulating all of you."

The prizes will be awarded next month at the CCAE national conference in Kelowna, BC. They cover work published in 2007.

"A university magazine can only be as good as its university, so this is a recognition of the strengths of York as well as the strengths of our staff," said YorkU editor Berton Woodward, publications director at York for the past five years.

The silver award for Best Article went to a diary-style account by astronaut and York alumnus Steve MacLean (BSc ’77, PhD ’83) of his 2006 spacewalk outside the International Space Station, which appeared in the February 2007 issue of YorkU, titled "I Inhaled the Beauty of the Earth". The judges called the award a "significant achievement" given the high calibre of entries.

Left: Steve MacLean in space

In their comments, the judges said: "Very difficult to convey overwhelming awe, but MacLean gives it his best shot. He communicates tension, scientific information and excitement with humility and a touch of humour. As [York’s nominating] statement says, ‘No allowance need be given for the fact that Steve is not a professional writer.’ Congratulations on enlisting this remarkable alumnus to write a first-person piece about an experience few readers will ever have."

The silver-winning photograph was of internationally recognized pipa player Wendy Wen Zhao, taken by freelance photographer KC Armstrong for YorkU‘s April 2007 issue. YorkU art director James Nixon oversaw the shoot, while the magazine’s managing editor Michael Todd chose and wrote the accompanying article, titled "Pipa Maestra", about Zhao, who teaches the ancient Chinese instrument at York. The judges thought the photo had a dynamic quality, full of musical tension, and expressed the tone of the article extremely well. They also admired the technical qualities of the shot.

Right: Winning photo of Wendy Zhao

"The awards are recognition of the long-term professionalism of the magazine’s team and the quality they produce time and again," said Richard Fisher, York’s chief marketing officer.

The magazine scored high in all categories, including writing, style and structure; creativity, design and photography; as well as content and targeting the appropriate audience.

The judges called the feature stories strong and easy to read, saying there is a good variety of articles that succeed in making a good connection with readers, while the photography is creative, engaging, interesting and compelling, drawing readers into the stories.

In its five years, YorkU has won numerous golds in individual categories from CCAE as well as the Washington-based Council for Advancement and Support of Education, along with several silvers for Best Magazine from both organizations. This was the first time it has won gold overall.

"This award also means that YorkU has won gold or silver in the CCAE Best Magazine category in four of its five years of publication," Woodward said.

YorkU was launched in the fall of 2003 and is published bimonthly five times during the academic year – October, December, February, April and Summer. Every issue circulates on campus in large numbers (at least 15,000), addressed to faculty and staff and picked up by students at campus racks. The October, February and Summer editions are also sent to alumni and friends of the University, with circulation now reaching 200,000.

To read issues of the magazine, visit the YorkU Web site.