Behind a winning regional business magazine is great writing
by Chris Roush
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Business North Carolina was named the best regional business magazine in the country last week at the Alliance of Area Business Publications meeting in Milwaukee.
It is the first time that the magazine, based in Charlotte, has won the national award. Runners-up for best magazine were D CEO in Dallas and Twin Cities Business in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Talking Biz News asked David Kinney, the editor for the past 25 years and majority owner since 1998, about winning the award.
Here is what he had to say:
Since the magazine was founded in 1981, Business North Carolina has won more than 100 national awards for its writing, reporting and design, but this one was the biggest by far.
We had won the silver and bronze awards for best magazine a few times, but — considering some of the competition we were up against and the relative sizes of our staffs and budgets — winning the gold took me by surprise.
I really liked what the judges, members of the University of Missouri journalism faculty, had to say about the magazine in their comments: “Great writing is its hallmark, the output of skilled reporting and impeccable editing. The stories are interesting to read even for people who aren’t interested in business reporting.”
We’ve always put a premium on writing at BNC. As a monthly magazine, we can’t be as timely as daily or weekly newspapers, not to mention broadcasting outlets or Web publishers and social media. People might not have to read us, so we’ve got to do everything in our power to make them want to read us.
And if you can do that, there’s still a demand — and appreciation — for the kind of journalism we produce. But to deliver that product, you’ve got to attract a strong staff, abetted by a talented stable of freelancers.
People work for BNC because they’re drawn to long-form journalism. They get to do the kind of stories you’ll find only in magazines, mostly magazines published in much larger markets. Take Ed Martin, for instance. He started writing for us as a freelancer after nearly 30 years of working for dailies, then spent more than a decade on our staff. Now retired, he’s our senior contributing editor and still doing great work. Not only was he a big reason we won best magazine, but he got the gold prize for best body of work by a magazine writer, the sixth time he’s taken the top honor in that category.
He also won gold prizes this year for best magazine feature, best magazine personality profile and best local spin on a national business/economics story in the open category, open to both newspapers and magazines.
“Martin,” the judges wrote, “excels as a business magazine writer because of his story choice and story execution — fueled by in-depth reporting, elegant writing and first-person observations. Whether he is writing about the biggest farm east of the Mississippi River or an aging speedboat mogul, Martin captures the flavor of his subjects with the use of telling, specific details and a compelling narrative arc.”
And it’s not just the veterans who make this happen. We won the silver prize for best headlines, one of which was written by Spencer Campbell, a young editor who came to work for us just last year from a magazine in Florida — with the stated purpose of becoming the next Ed Martin.
DISCLOSURE: I was a contributing editor to Business North Carolina from June 2004 to September 2007, writing a monthly sports business column and other stories.