Canadian Magazine Industry News
11 November 2013,     TORONTO
COPA Judges Blog: The Content Creators
2013 COPAs will be held this Wednesday in Toronto. Today (Monday) is the last day for online ticket sales, so order now to save. Continuing the countdown below, Martin Seto brings more thoughts from this year's panel of expert judges.

Journalists today can tell stories in a number of ways, in the form of words, pictures, videos, interactive elements and other technical wizardry. With the restraints of the print world removed, articles in the digital realm open the door for discussion - What is the optimal word count to tell a story online? What about e-books? Infographics are exploring new digital frontiers as an interactive story format that blends both print and digital and engages readers on any device. 

Leah is the online editor at Canadian Art and a returning judge. She has contributed to the National Post, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, and is the winner of several gold COPAs. This year she is a judge in the category of best online-only article or series

One thing I find interesting when considering online editorial -- including editorial that I write -- is the question of length. There are no page-count or column-inch limits when it comes to writing for online. This is a great thing in a lot of ways -- what freedom! Especially in an era when print page-counts and word-counts have been restricted! -- but it also leads some to observe that many online articles are overwritten or poorly structured. What is the right length for an online article? How do we know when there is no set page count to set that limit? I'm interested in what others in the industry have to say about this.

The questions of length also links, for me, to the topic of e-books and their growing proliferation among online media outlets, or among media outlets with an online presence. Can an e-book be considered simply as a very long article? Or is it a genre of its own that needs its own kind of category at awards like the COPAs? Do we need to be particularly careful when creating an e-book to ensure that the topic merits that length of treatment? Again, I'm curious as to what others in the industry are thinking about this relatively new genre of production as well.

Edmonton-based Kerry is one of the judges from Western Canada this year. She has worked at the Edmonton Journal and has expertise in journalism and digital media. We asked Kerry to be on the judging panel for the category of best blog

The best online journalists aren't just fine writers; they employ the full power of digital publishing to create robust, wiki-like entries, generously linking to their own previous work and out to anyone and anything they reference. Their design is clean; their navigation clear; their images crisp, compelling and relevant. And they seek unique topics or approaches that serve and challenge their audience.

A number of the entries I judged demonstrated many of these qualities. I also saw that online journalists -- especially those who write for legacy print publications -- are often hampered by noisy website design and cumbersome function. Mobile is undervalued, a sad state given the growing dominance of that universe.

My COPA judging experience also caused me to question whether blogs are any longer a distinct category of writing/publishing. What's the difference between a blog and an online series of articles by one writer or on one topic? If a blog has a set publishing schedule or its posts have to pass through an editor before they hit the web, is it still a blog? What makes a blog a blog?

Since 2006 Kim has been the publisher of, an online national site for news and opinions in Canada with 400,000 unique visitors per month. A returning judge, she was assigned the infographic category

I had the privilege of being a judge for the Infographics entries for COPA this year. This relatively recent form of news reporting is particularly well-suited to online media. I am delighted to see COPA singling out infographics as a unique contribution to news reporting. The entries this year ranged from wonderful, beautifully designed and informative static infographics, to complex, innovative, interactive designs, some drawing greatly on artist-designed graphics, others powered by elaborate databases drawn from original research and existing publicly-available online databases. The range and creativity of submissions made judging in this section certainly no easy task - but a rewarding an inspiring one. Congratulations to all the entries in this section!
— Martin Seto
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