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Special Invitation to Teachers, Instructors and Professors:

Our aim is simple: bring outstanding writing, photography and design to the classroom. Sure, we know we have great work in Western Canadian magazines, but how do we make it more accessible?

The answer: The Magazine School 2012

These teaching presentations are free to you, as an instructor or professor, as part of the Western Magazine Awards Foundation’s The Magazine School (TMS).  Each aims to tell the story ‘behind the story,’ of creating an award-winning entry.

The PowerPoint presentations allow students to meet the creators, and understand their challenges.  They provide real world case studies for your class, and highlights key aspects of the category winner. We hope you will find our award-winning material engaging for your students to read and view. 

The publications represented in The Magazine School 2012 are: Western Living (Manitoba), The Crow (Saskatchewan), Eighteen Bridges (Alberta/NWT), Vancouver Magazine (BC).

Gold Award, Best Article - Alberta/NWT

Shel Zolkewich

Western Living


Background: “Hooked” is a culinary food story. It focuses on pickerel catches at Gimli, Manitoba. Pickerel is one of the town’s most delicious exports (along with Crown Royal.) The writer details the net to plate experience of the pickerel and argues if you eat pickerel in and around Gimli, it was probably caught that day

Key to the story: fresh water fish: pickerel

Story Themes:

  • Culinary journalism
  • Fresh water fishing
  •  Gimli, Manitoba
  • Service article: recipes


Teaching Suggestions:

  1. Have students read Hooked (available on PDF).
  2. Show the PowerPoint, which focuses on the award-winning story.
  3. Discuss the structure of the story, and examine how the author weaves in multiple elements into a first-person story.
  4. Ask students if there is a compelling story about a local food they’ve experienced that they would like to write about and photograph.  Are there any delicacies that people would travel to see and eat? If this is a practical class, assign the story as a class assignment.



Gold Award, Best Article – Saskatchewan

Kent Morrison

The La Loche Project

The Crow

Background: The author was a student at the University of Regina School of Journalism.

Story Themes:

  • SaskNative Communities
  • Covering Native Communities
  • Native Communities with Social Welfare Support
  • Overcoming obstacles in reporting a story
  • Combining assignments (video and magazine)

Teaching Suggestions:

1. Ask students to read the story PDF of “The La Loche Project”.

2. Show the PowerPoint presentation to the class.

3. Ask the students to discuss how the writer structured his story and assembled the elements. What would they have done if they’d been in his shoes and lost support of the chief?

4. Ask students to write a story about a difficult interview they’d like to do and detail how they could approach that story.

5. Ask students what they know about native communities in their province/territories, and how The La Loche Project impacted their thinking about this topic.

6. Ask students to interview a native Canadian, and find out how what that person thinks about media coverage of native communities.


Gold Award, Best Article - Alberta/NWT

Chris Turner

Eighteen Bridges

Bearing Witness

Background: Enbridge is proposing a pipeline that would cut through one of the most beautiful and pristine rainforests on the planet: The Great Bear Rainforest. The author Chris Turner received a call from the PR rep. for Tides Canada and the International League of Conservation Photographers about the trip. He paid his own way as he thought he could sell stories about the trip in the future. The Globe and Mail published a version as did Eighteen Bridges.

Story Themes:

  • Environmental Preservation
  • Oil Pipelines
  • Tension between economic development and environmental preservation
  • Native sacred symbols

Teaching Suggestions:

1. Have students read either online or the PDF “Bearing Witness.”
2. Show the PowerPoint and ask the students to identify story themes.
3. Discuss the tension in the story.
4. Ask students why they think this story succeeded? Ask them to write about their favourite natural area.
5. Discuss: can natural environments and industry co-exist?


Gold Award, Best Article – B.C./Yukon

Timothy Taylor

Vancouver Magazine

Blood Brothers

Background: An intern at Vancouver magazine talked to editor Gary Ross about an extraordinary story. She’d run into two men at the Vancouver Centre for Torture Victims. They had been enemies during the Iran/Iraq war. But one saved the other instead of killing him. Then, they met again, by chance, in Vancouver. Both had had very rough lives following the war.

Story Themes:

  • War
  • Moral decisions
  • Iran/Iraq conflict
  • Creating a new life abroad

Teaching Suggestions:

1. Have students read “Blood Brothers.” (Available on PDF).
2. Show the PowerPoint and discuss the challenges of writing about a story that can’t be corroborated. How does the author deal with this?
3. How does the author tell the story, what techniques are used?
4. Ask students if or how the story changed their thinking about war or those who participate in wars?
5. If this is a practical class, ask students to write a few paragraphs about courageous moral decisions.