And the Winners Are …

It was a Saturday night in early March, and I was sitting in a hotel ballroom in Philadelphia with two of my Carolina Parent colleagues and nearly 200 representatives from magazines like ours across the country. We’d finished our chicken dinners, and we were well into our cheesecake slices when the awards ceremony officially began. Ninety minutes later, Carolina Parent was the proud recipient of four national awards: two for design and two for editorial content.

Carolina Parent is a meaty magazine. We’re closing in on an average of almost 100 pages each month and we have an audited monthly circulation of 58,000. But we’re by no means the biggest magazine in the Parenting Publications of America awards competition. In fact, we’re judged in the largest circulation category (55,000 and up) alongside magazines from the countries largest metropolitan areas, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. So when we win awards, we’re confident that we’re on the right track with our work.

We’re pleased to share the judges’ comments about our award-winning entries with you:

• In the “Front Cover: Glossy, Original Illustration” category, we took the silver award for our August 2006 Back-to-School cover. (Cheri Vigna, art director; Britt Spencer, artist; Cathy Ashby, editor.) The judges said: “This illustration is a subtle, sophisticated way to illustrate the concept. The image uses color nicely, and the overall design enhances the image. The rest of the cover is kept simple so as not to overwhelm the quiet tone of the image.”

• In the “Infographics” category, we took the bronze for our April 2005 Kids’ Sports Guide. (Cheri Vigna, art director; Cathy Ashby, editor.) The judges said: “This is packed with useful information that is easily accessible. Use of alternating background color on each entry helps organize and gives relief to the reader’s eye.”

• In the “Publisher/Editor Column” category, we won the silver for my monthly Editor’s Note (what you’re reading now). The judges said: “Taking small moments and making them writ large is an admirable feat. But finding those moments which mirror the theme of the publication – now that’s even more praiseworthy. Cathy Ashby columns take unpredictable twists, showing some uncommon wisdom. Her columns hold a reader’s attention to the very last line.”

• And in the “Web Site Content” category, we won the gold. (April Craig, Web manager; Cathy Asbhy, editor.) The judges said: “Authoritative and complete content with a strong local flavor. Features stories are compelling and offer parents great tips and outside resources. Forums and discussion groups for new mothers are particularly strong. And the content tackles issues other magazines didn’t, providing a refreshing change from endless discussions on public breastfeeding or the politics of spanking.”

Every year, the Parenting Publications of America conference is a highlight for our staff. Sure, we find out if our hard work has earned us any new awards, but we also learn from our peers and from industry experts how we can improve our magazine and better serve our readers and our advertisers. Your comments about our ongoing efforts mean just as much — if not more — than those of the award program judges. Please don’t be shy about telling us what you like and what you don’t. We’re always eager to hear what our readers think about the magazine. Because we’re not really winners unless YOU think we’re doing a good job.