10:00 AM – 11:15 PM Concurrent Sessions (Breakouts)

Photos, Photo-Essays and Long-Form: Digital-First Approach at The Narwhal with Shawn Parkinson

In the short time since its founding in 2018, The Narwhal has established itself as a leader in investigative reporting and on-the-ground photojournalism. In 2022 The Narwhal took home Gold and Silver at the Digital Publishing Awards as well as Gold at the National Magazine Awards in photojournalism categories. Joining us to share how this digital-first journalism organization plans and produces these visually stunning, socially important stories is The Narwhal’s art director, Shawn Parkinson. This session for art directors, web and print editors, writers and photographers will touch on how the team approaches these big stories, and how they keep their website user-friendly for long-form visual storytelling as well as their other editorial pillars.

Shawn Parkinson is a designer and filmmaker based in Vancouver. He is the art director of The Narwhal, a non-profit investigative journalism magazine that dives deep to tell stories about Canada’s natural world you can’t find anywhere else. Shawn is responsible for leading and evolving The Narwhal’s award-winning brand and visual storytelling.

Shawn also builds brands, communications and products for forward-thinking clients with his creative agency, MAKE TODAY. In the past he has led creative projects at Destination British Columbia, Hootsuite, and Vancouver 2010.

Life Cycle of a Story with Michelle Kelly

As content creators, we are asked to cover a lot of bases. It’s not just about getting readers to turn the page or click on the next link; now, we need to engage our audience across several social media platforms—at once!—as well as through emerging digital platforms such as podcasts, with multiple newsletters, and even through live events. Problem is, budgets aren’t growing with demand.

So what’s a clever content producer to do?

At Cottage Life, we’ve developed a strict strategy on what content we serve readers, where we serve it, and why. What works on Facebook might not work in a newsletter; what works in print may not work in digital. What works on the podcast, might be boring at a live event.

Understanding who your audience is on each platform is critical for making sure you are being as efficient as possible with your money and time. This session will be a case study into how CL brings ideas to life across different platforms and why being strategic about this is crucial to engaging readers in our brand in a meaningful, long-lasting way.

Michelle Kelly started her career in publishing as the Office Manager at Cottage Life. Since then, she has held various positions in the editorial department at the magazine until she was named Editor in July 2015 and Vice President, Content, for Blue Ant Media in September 2019. She oversees all digital, social, and print content for the brand, including the recently launched Cottage Life Podcast. She sits on the Professional Advisory Committee for Centennial College in Toronto and is a board member for the International Regional Magazines Association. She is also the recipient of several Canadian National Magazine Awards, including Editor Grand Prix in 2021. Outside of work, Michelle volunteers for Ready Set Play, a non-profit group that helps provide youth access to organized sports. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.


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