It’s Minnesota Monthly with
an MMPA First

by Craig Gustafson

“The very first Magazine of the Year winner is… Minnesota Monthly!”  

With this highly anticipated pronouncement of MMPA’s newest and highest honor, emcee Jason DeRusha, of WCCO-TV News, hastened the close of an evening, which provided a number of “firsts” for the Excellence Awards.

Jason DeRusha

The 14th Annual Minnesota Publishing Excellence Awards drew together more than 200 professionals on November 4 to recognize and celebrate the best that Minnesota publishers produced over the past year. Gathering for the first time at the Nicollet Island Pavilion, the boisterous crowd mingled and roamed throughout the hall, taking in the picturesque setting and enjoying the opportunity to renew and initiate relationships with colleagues from across the state. 

Awards were presented in nearly 80 categories, covering creative work in both print and electronic platforms, click here to view the winners. The awards were often punctuated by timely quips from DeRusha that not only provided color to the ceremony, but served to lightheartedly illustrate the diverse and sometimes hyper-specific audiences served. 

Jason DeRusha of WCCO-TV News hosted the awards for a third year.
Photo courtesy of Josh P. Roberts

For the first time, all of the entries in the competition were required to be submitted digitally, which further enhanced the presentation by allowing a real-time visual display of the winners for all to enjoy. 

Lavender Cover

As Lavender’s cover depicting a close-up of a dog was displayed for winning the silver award for Best Single Cover, the house reacted predictably. “Awww!” quipped DeRusha. “If you think that’s cute, you should see the pictures of sleeping animals that I put on TV at ten o’clock tonight. It’s cheap, its animals—and I have kids [in the story]. It’s straight-up ratings period, people, you know.  I’m not ashamed to pander,” he deadpanned. 

Minnesota Monthly a Longtime Leader

Editor Joel Hoekstra accepted Minnesota Monthly’s Magazine of the Year Award with some words of inspiration: 

“On behalf of the magazine, thank you very much for this award. I had the privilege today of actually hiring a young woman. A couple of weeks ago, I called her up and told her that she had the job, and she said, ‘Really? Really? Really?’ She was so excited. It was one of those moments that reminded me how lucky we all are to be in the world of journalism, and particularly in this rocky time, that we are lucky to have the jobs that we have and magazines that we have. 

Joel Hoekstra accepting the award

“I’d just like to remind you that when you get up and go to that job that you have that’s too many hours and it doesn’t pay enough: who has the job? You do. Really! Really! Really!” 

In 1967, Greenspring Media Group began with a single publication, Minnesota Monthly. The lifestyle magazine reports on key issues such as politics, education and healthcare, and is also known as a resource for local entertainment, travel, arts and dining. Minnesota Monthly has been recognized with numerous editorial and design awards over the past 14 years, and prides itself on continuously striving for overall achievement.  

Joel Hoekstra accepts the Magazine of the Year award.
Photo courtesy of Josh P. Roberts

MMPA’s Magazine of the Year award is based on a point system that accounts for cumulative Excellence Awards garnered by a publication over time. A field of five finalist publications also included Exhibitor Magazine, Experience Life, Lake Superior Magazine and Minnesota Business Monthly.

The Greg Carey Leadership Award

After acknowledging the contributions of the Board of Directors, the event planning committee, and the sponsors, President Steve Schiffman presented the evening’s two achievement awards that were not based solely on copy and design. 

The Greg Carey Leadership Award was created in 2001. It is presented yearly to the individual who embodies the spirit, dedication, and leadership exemplified by Greg Carey who served on the MMPA Board of Directors from 1995 to 2000, including a year as president of the board in 1998. His dedication and leadership were instrumental in helping the MMPA grow during its early years, and he was also one of the primary drivers behind the creation of the excellence awards.

Mary Jo Larson and Franchise Times

This year’s winner is Publisher and Vice President for Franchise Times, and current MMPA Past President, Mary Jo Larson. Franchise Times is the leading provider of information and events for the franchise industry. Larsen has worked for the corporation for 20 years and has volunteered for MMPA since her company first joined the organization. She served on the MMPA Board of Directors for a total of eight years, including two years as board president in 2008 and 2009.   

Franchise Times staff with Mary Jo Larson (middle).
Photo courtesy of Josh P. Roberts

“I have had the great pleasure of working closely with her during her time on the board,” said Schiffman, “and I can say first hand that her talent and leadership has helped make the MMPA what it is today.” 

“People ask me why I volunteer for the MMPA,” said Larson. “And it’s really because I’m one of those people who feel that as a volunteer, you get more back than you give. That is really what the MMPA is about for me.” 

Larson closed her remarks, saying, “This has been a fantastic opportunity for me and my company.” 

The Innovator Award

The MMPA Innovator Award was first presented in 2002, and recognizes companies that successfully establish and execute a new concept in the magazine publishing business. This may include a particularly successful publication (or launch) or establishing a more efficient production technique. 

In late 2009, the Exhibitor magazine editorial team was tasked with establishing new revenue streams and sponsorship opportunities that could supplement decreasing print advertising dollars. The goals included: creating new products that sales associates could use for new or prospective advertisers, creating products that add value for readers, and adding “rich media” or “digital elements” to the editorial mix. 

These goals also came with the caveat that these products needed to make use of existing resources with no significant unplanned costs. The editorial team delivered on five projects, which added $125,000 in additional revenue. 

The degree of success has encouraged Exhibitor to continue exploring additional projects to capitalize on untapped revenue, and to reposition the editorial department within the organization.   

Travis Stanton, editor of Exhibitor accepted the award. “Since all of you chuckled when [Schiffman] mentioned [the caveat], I assume all of you can empathize with having to do more with less; and that is certainly what we were tasked with. So thanks MMPA, for recognizing the work that we’re doing down the road in Rochester, and to everybody at Exhibitor who has a willingness and desire to continue innovating, for their hard work and dedication to producing products that we can all be proud to be associated with,” said Stanton. 

To view the entire list of gold, silver, and bronze winners, download this PDF file of the awards brochure.

In the coming year, continuing coverage of the Excellence Awards will appear in each issue of FinePrint, MMPA’s electronic newsletter. A winning entry will be profiled, including commentary from the creator of the piece, any available judges' comments, and a link to a PDF file of the actual work.

Save the Dates

  • 2011 Minnesota Magazine Mingle is January 27th. An Evening of Casual Networking for editors and writers.

  • 2011 Summit and Expo is April 28th.

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