American Society of Magazine Editors

43rd Annual National Magazine Awards Winners Announced

May 1, 2008

National Geographic Triumphs With Three Ellies—First-Time Wins by Atlanta, Bicycling, Condé Nast Portfolio, New Letters, and Runner's World

NEW YORK, NY (May 1, 2008)—The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) bestowed the industry’s most prestigious editorial honors tonight at the 43rd annual National Magazine Awards.  The black-tie gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City gathered more than 1,000 editors, publishers, industry professionals and guests to celebrate 25 winners across 20 categories.  Named after the Alexander Calder stabile “Elephant,” the 2008 “Ellies” drew a record-setting 1,964 entries from 333 print and online magazines.

The awards honor print and online magazines that consistently demonstrate superior execution of editorial objectives, innovative editorial techniques, journalistic enterprise, and imaginative design.  Established in 1966, the National Magazine Awards is the preeminent program in the magazine industry to honor editorial excellence. ASME presents the awards program in association with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. 

The 2008 National Magazine Award winners are:

  • National Geographic for General Excellence (over 2,000,000 circulation)
  • The New Yorker for General Excellence (1,000,000 to 2,000,000 circulation)
  • GQ for General Excellence (500,000 to 1,000,000 circulation)
  • Backpacker for General Excellence (250,000 to 500,000 circulation)
  • Mother Jones for General Excellence (100,000 to 250,000 circulation)
  • Print for General Excellence (under 100,000 circulation)
  • Popular Mechanics for Personal Service
  • New York for Leisure Interests
  • National Geographic for Reporting
  • The Nation for Public Interest
  • Atlanta for Feature Writing
  • Vanity Fair for Profile Writing
  • New Letters for Essays
  • Rolling Stone for Columns and Commentary
  • The Atlantic for Reviews and Criticism
  • Condé Nast Portfolio for Magazine Section
  • The Virginia Quarterly Review for Single-Topic Issue
  • Wired for Design
  • Gourmet for Photography
  • National Geographic for Photojournalism
  • Vanity Fair for Photo Portfolio
  • Harper’s Magazine for Fiction
  • RunnersWorld.com for General Excellence Online
  • BusinessWeek.com for Personal Service Online
  • Bicycling.com for Interactive Feature

National Geographic won in three of its five nominated categories. Vanity Fair won in two categories.  Atlanta, Bicycling, Condé Nast Portfolio, New Letters and Runner's World each took home their first Ellie.

With its three wins this year, National Geographic has now captured a total of 18 Ellies. The New Yorker has received 47 Ellies over the years, while The Atlantic has received 20, Harper's Magazine has received 16, New York and Vanity Fair have each received 15,Rolling Stone has received 14, BusinessWeek has received 10, Wired has received six, GQ, Mother Jones, and The Nation have each received five, Gourmet and The Virginia Quarterly Review have each received three, and Backpacker and Popular Mechanics have each received two.

Barnes & Noble is the exclusive sponsor of the 2008 awards.  In addition to their support of the event, they will host a panel discussion with writers from winning and finalist magazines on June 4 at 7 p.m., at the Lincoln Triangle Barnes & Noble in Manhattan (1972 Broadway at 66th Street).

The following are the 2008 National Magazine Award winners with judges’ citations. (Note that editors listed held that position at the time the issue was published in 2007.)

GENERAL EXCELLENCE

This category recognizes overall excellence in magazines in six circulation categories. It honors the effectiveness with which writing, reporting, editing and design all come together to command readers’ attention and fulfill the magazine’s unique editorial mission.

Under 100,000 circulation

Print: Joyce Rutter Kaye, editor-in-chief, for March/April, July/August, September/October issues.

Proving that just looking great isn’t enough, Print stands out in a cluttered field with its expansive view of its subject, its relentless curiosity, and its determination to look at design not in a vacuum but as a crucial gateway to popular culture, the environment, and even politics.

100,000 to 250,000 circulation

Mother Jones: Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, editors-in-chief, for March/April, May/June, September/October issues.

Mother Jones breaks new ground month after month with a mix of hard-hitting reporting and fresh political commentary, making its voice essential in today’s national debate on everything that matters. Whether covering the disturbing wave of mass extinctions sweeping the planet or offering up an “Iraq Handbook for Dummies,” Mother Jones keeps its voice and vision incredibly fresh.

250,000 to 500,000 circulation

Backpacker: Jonathan Dorn, editor-in-chief, for April, May, September issues.

With stories ranging from how global warming affects our national parks to the proper way to hang a bear bag, Backpacker feeds its readers singular and voracious passion for the trail. Smartly designed, with field-tested gear advice and regionally specific trail and event guides, Backpacker is the essential magazine of outdoor adventure.

500,000 to 1,000,000 circulation

GQ: Jim Nelson, editor-in-chief, for March, September, October issues.

Every page of GQ feels invigorating, lifted by great writing, design and invention. Nothing is standard fare here. The editors' fresh thinking informs every element, from fashion spreads to reported features, from celebrity profiles to simple front-of-book sidebars. And the magazine's bright, clear, and clever design tells the story: that this is one monthly whose makeover can now be declared a complete success.

1,000,000 to 2,000,000 circulation

The New Yorker: David Remnick, editor, for February 19 & 26, August 13, October 8 issues.

If you had The New Yorker’s limitless reserve of intelligence, humor, passion, and tradition, you’d make it look easy too. But the weekly stalwart never rests on its considerable laurels. From covers to cartoons, game-changing investigative reporting to superlative fiction, every issue surprises and delights—and exceeds expectations.

Over 2,000,000 circulation

National Geographic: Chris Johns, editor-in-chief, for June, August, December issues.

How does National Geographic do it? While remaining true to traditions known to generations of readers, the magazine continues to inspire and amaze—with photography that reveals wondrous, and often threatened, corners of our planet, and reporting that is both intrepid and tough-minded. Its mission has never been more vital.

PERSONAL SERVICE

This category recognizes excellence in service journalism.  The advice or instruction presented should help readers improve the quality of their personal lives.

Popular Mechanics: James B. Meigs, editor-in-chief, for a three-part series by Alex Hutchinson, Know Your Footprint: Energy, June;Know Your Footprint: Water, September; Know Your Footprint: Waste, December.

In a three-part series, Popular Mechanics tackles a source of growing national anxiety—the degradation of the environment—with empowering service journalism. With clear graphics and easy-to-digest text, the package helps readers understand their impact in three areas (energy, water, solid waste) and suggests useful tips, interesting products and DIY projects for them.

LEISURE INTERESTS

This category recognizes excellent service journalism about leisure-time pursuits.  The practical advice or instruction presented should help readers enjoy hobbies or other recreational interests.

New York: Adam Moss, editor-in-chief, for Cartography: The Complete Road Map to New York City Street Food, by Michael Idov, Rob Patronite, Robin Raisfeld, and Emma Rosenblum, June 25.

New York’s “Cartography,” dishes up a field guide to the city’s sidewalk food. Ranging from Jackson Heights to Fifth Avenue and from halal lamb to, yes, hot dogs, the package offers not just a review of street treats and secret sauces, but also a fascinating insight into the lives and craft of the city’s pushcart purveyors.

REPORTING

This category recognizes excellence in reporting.  It honors the enterprise, exclusive reporting and intelligent analysis that a magazine exhibits in covering an event, a situation or a problem of contemporary interest and significance.

National Geographic: Chris Johns, editor-in-chief, for China’s Instant Cities, by Peter Hessler, June.

In “China’s Instant Cities,” reporter Peter Hessler recreates the entrepreneurial frenzy behind China’s dramatic economic growth. He combines exhaustive on-the-ground reporting with meticulous research and analysis to tell a story that is sweeping in its reach, authentically engaging and dramatic on multiple levels, from the personal lives of the factory workers and bosses to the macro-economic forces transforming this province with cranes, highways, factories and dams almost overnight.

PUBLIC INTEREST

This category recognizes journalism that sheds new light on an issue of public importance and has the potential to affect national or local debate or policy.

The Nation: Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher, for a two-part series by Joshua Kors, How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits, April 9; Specialist Town Takes His Case to Washington, October 15.

Starting with a hunch, Joshua Kors discovered that Jon Town, a Purple Heart-winning army specialist seriously injured in Iraq, was one of 22,500 veterans denied medical and disability benefits by being given a “Chapter 5-13 personality discharge.” Reform followed: affected vets received back benefits and 5-13 diagnoses were suspended.

FEATURE WRITING

This category recognizes excellence in feature writing.  It honors the stylishness and originality with which the author treats his or her subject.

Atlanta: Rebecca Burns, editor-in-chief, for You Have Thousands of Angels Around You, by Paige Williams, October.

Without a trace of false sentimentality, Paige Williams tells the stop-you-in-your-tracks tale of a teenager who survived a war, lost her entire family, fled two continents and wound up in Atlanta, where she is helped in her claim on a bright future by an unlikely network of “angels,” including a middle class family and an indefatigable immigration attorney who plucks her case from obscurity.

PROFILE WRITING

This category recognizes excellence in profile writing.  It honors the vividness and perceptiveness with which the writer brings his or her subject to life.

Vanity Fair: Graydon Carter, editor, for Pat Dollard’s War on Hollywood, by Evan Wright, March.

Evan Wright’s proposed Vanity Fair profile of a failed Hollywood agent turned documentary film maker morphed into a 23,000 word monster of an article chronicling his subject’s harrowing but frequently amusing descent into drugs, madness, violence and, improbably, his resurrection as a hero of the pro-war right. “Pat Dollard’s War on Hollywood” is a cautionary tale about what happens when Hollywood meets Baghdad.

ESSAYS

This category recognizes excellence in essay writing on topics ranging from the personal to the political.  Whatever the subject, emphasis should be placed on the author’s eloquence, perspective, fresh thinking and unique voice.

New Letters: Robert Stewart, editor-in-chief, for I Am Joe’s Prostate, by Thomas E. Kennedy, Volume 73, Number 4, Summer 2007.

“I am Joe’s Prostate” steals its title from the 1950’s Reader’s Digest series, but Reader’s Digest was never like this. Wince-inducing, outrageously honest and wickedly funny, Thomas Kennedy’s account of his prostate-cancer scare is essay-writing at its most original. Laugh the whole way through, then ponder the subtext of medical testing gone haywire.

COLUMNS and COMMENTARY

This category recognizes excellence in short-form political, social, economic or humorous commentary.  It honors the eloquence, force of argument and succinctness with which the writer presents his or her views.

Rolling Stone: Jann S. Wenner, editor and publisher; Will Dana, managing editor, for three columns by Matt Taibbi, Worse Than Bush, June 14; My Favorite Nut Job, November 29; Obama’s Moment, December 27.

Layering telling anecdotes beneath a veneer of gonzo brio, Matt Taibbi constructs some of the most insightful political profiles of the day. Brash, unmerciful, and extremely prescient, Taibbi’s prose has matured and deepened without growing safe or stodgy.

REVIEWS and CRITICISM

This category recognizes excellence in criticism of art, books, movies, television, theater, music, dance, food, dining, fashion, products and the like.  It honors the knowledge, persuasiveness and original voice that the critic brings to his or her reviews.

The Atlantic: James Bennet, editor, for three columns by Caitlin Flanagan, The Sanguine Sex, May; Babes in the Woods, July/August;No Girlfriend of Mine, November.

Caitlin Flanagan is an insightful observer of modern culture, an engaging writer who brings a unique, intensely personal perspective to a wide range of knotty contemporary issues from abortion to pedophilia to Hillary Clinton.  Her work in The Atlantic is an example of criticism at its best--thoughtful and bracingly honest, filled with humor and empathy, and free of clichés or political correctness.

MAGAZINE SECTION

This category recognizes excellence of a regular, cohesive section of a magazine, either front- or back-of-book and composed of a variety of elements, both text and visual.  Finalists are selected based on the section’s voice, originality, and unified design and packaging.

Condé Nast Portfolio: Joanne Lipman, editor-in-chief, for its Brief section, September, November, December.

Consistently smart, contrarian, and well-reported, Condé Nast Portfolio's “Brief” is an original take on ambition, invention, ego, drama, and conflict. The surprisingly fresh and clean design complements and furthers the section's distinctive voice as it charts the impact of business on society, culture, and politics.

SINGLE-TOPIC ISSUE

This category recognizes magazines that have devoted an issue to an in-depth examination of one topic.  It honors the ambition, comprehensiveness and imagination with which a magazine treats its subject.

The Virginia Quarterly Review: Daniel Alarcón and Ted Genoways, co-editors, for South America in the 21st Century, Fall.

In its provocative and moving issue on South America, The Virginia Quarterly Review presents a multi-faceted portrait of a continent on the move. Created by some of South America’s most daring writers and visual artists, this illuminating collection of fiction and nonfiction is at once surprising and comprehensive, from street soccer and political violence to a comic book journey to Antarctica and the new breed of 21st Century Madonnas.

DESIGN

This category recognizes excellence in magazine design.  It honors the effectiveness of overall design, artwork, graphics and typography in enhancing a magazine’s unique mission and personality.

Wired: Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief; Scott Dadich, creative director, for August, October, November issues; Wyatt Mitchell, design director, for November issue.

From its electric covers to its audacious feature well, Wired is a dazzling and daring visual document. Intelligent grid, attention to detail, and powerful type treatments achieve an invigorating integration of design and editorial mission, and as a result, we feel energized to participate in the world of global innovation.

PHOTOGRAPHY

This category recognizes excellence in magazine photography.  It honors the effectiveness of photography, photojournalism and photo illustration in enhancing a magazine’s unique mission and personality.

Gourmet: Ruth Reichl, editor-in-chief; Richard Ferretti, creative director; Erika Oliveira, art director; Amy Koblenzer, photo editor, for September, October, December issues.

From the first page to the last, Gourmet turns food photography on its head. Using pictures that range from a young boy's food-smeared cheeks to a close-up of glistening pork, the magazine creates a lush, earthy environment and exults in the sensual qualities of food.

PHOTOJOURNALISM

This category recognizes the informative photographic documentation of an event or subject in real-time.

National Geographic: Chris Johns, editor-in-chief; David Griffin, director of photography;  David C. Whitmore, design director; Sarah Leen, senior photo editor; Susan A. Smith, photography deputy director, for Bedlam in the Blood: Malaria, by Michael Finkel; photographs by John Stanmeyer, July.

A threat to half the world’s human population, malaria is more destructive than ever. To show the scope of the disease to the lucky half who do not live in its shadow, National Geographic sent photographer John Stanmeyer around the world, from a hospital in Zambia, where he shot a four-year-old near the brink of death, to Kolkata (Calcutta), where monsoon-flooded streets provided breeding grounds for mosquitoes. His work—clear, complete, and concerned—is a model of powerful photojournalism.

PHOTO PORTFOLIO

This category honors creative photography and photo illustration (including portraiture and specially produced layouts).

Vanity Fair: Graydon Carter, editor; David Harris, design director; Susan White, photography director, for Killers Kill, Dead Men Die: A 2007 Hollywood Portfolio, Michael Roberts, fashion and style director; photographs by Annie Leibovitz, in collaboration with Vilmos Zsigmond, cinematographer, March.

With great ambition, Vanity Fair stages a dramatic, epic portfolio for its annual Hollywood issue.  Inspired by the noir films of the 40s and 50s, photographer Annie Leibovitz gathers a blockbuster cast of modern-day film icons and places them in famous scenes of films past.  The conscious choice of color, and the expert use of lighting to spotlight the subjects and create a mood, captures the glamour of old Hollywood.

FICTION

This category recognizes excellence in magazine fiction writing.  It honors the quality of a publication’s literary selections.

Harper’s Magazine: Roger D. Hodge, editor, for Death of the Pugilist, by Daniel Mason, July; Fiction, by Alice Munro, August; A Report on Our Recent Troubles, by Steven Millhauser, November.

From “Death of the Pugilist,” the gripping tale of a 19th century boxing match told in dazzling prose, and “Fiction,” a story of marriage and cross-generational regret, to “A Report on Our Recent Troubles,” a satire about a suburban town whose residents won’t stop killing themselves, Harper’s showcases the myriad experiments in style and substance  by today’s leading short-fiction writers.

GENERAL EXCELLENCE ONLINE

This category recognizes outstanding magazine websites, as well as online-only magazines that feature original content.  The site must convey a distinct editorial identity and create a unique magazine environment on the web.

RunnersWorld.com (www.runnersworld.com): David Willey, editor-in-chief; Mark Remy, executive editor; George Vlahogiannis , executive producer

Whether you’re just thinking about taking up running, a seasoned marathon veteran or perhaps are wondering how much running you can plan to do during a pregnancy, RunnersWorld.com fulfills its goal of being the top Web resource for runners of all levels.  The site hosts an online community of thousands of users along with a cluster of lively blogs, e-newsletters, RSS feeds and videos, engaging its readership with motivational, practical and actionable information.

PERSONAL SERVICE ONLINE

This category recognizes an outstanding service feature on the web. The practical advice or instruction presented should help readers either improve the quality of their personal lives or enjoy recreational interests. The category honors a site’s creative use of multimedia technology, user involvement and community tools, and/or exceptional work in the blog form. 

BusinessWeek.com - B-Schools (www.businessweek.com/bschools): Stephen J. Adler, editor-in-chief

BusinessWeek.com’s B-Schools guide is a rich resource for students.  Its varied rankings, as well as forums, slideshows, video interviews with deans, MBA student blogs and other features go a long way toward helping a prospective student choose the best school.

INTERACTIVE FEATURE

This category recognizes an outstanding interactive section of the website, featuring news, entertainment and other subjects that do not offer practical instruction or advice. The category honors a site’s creative use of multimedia technology, user involvement and community tools, and/or exceptional work in the blog form.

Bicycling.com - GPS Rides Tool (http://bicycling.allsportgps.com): David L’Heureux, web editor

The GPS Rides Tool on Bicycling.com is a rare combination of high-tech, smart, and useful, bringing together the technology of allsportGPS.com, the mapping ability of Google, and the passion of cyclists. The tool allows riders to map their favorite routes using their handheld GPS units, upload them to the site along with commentary and photos, and share them with other riders.

 

About The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME)

The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) is a non-profit professional organization for editors of print and online magazines which are edited, published and distributed in the U.S.  Established in 1963, ASME currently has about 850 members nationwide.  Among other things, ASME works to preserve editorial independence and speaks out on public policy issues, particularly those pertaining to the First Amendment.