The 53rd annual National Magazine Awards, which took place at a luncheon at Cipriani Wall Street in New York, celebrated magazine journalism for its role in the social movements of the past year.
“It has been a tough year, hasn’t it. For all of us, including me. I was 25 when I started. Last time that you gathered for this ceremony, I’m sure you were probably thinking, ‘I wonder what our professional lives will be like going forward under this administration.’ Now you know. It is exhausting,” host and CNN anchor Don Lemon said. “When I say that I’ve aged 10 years, I really do feel like that, it is not a joke. It is draining. It is frustrating. But it has been really been exhilarating. I think that it is more important now to do what we do, and to be in media and to be journalists.”
Lemon went on to frame magazines as leaders of a broader struggle for social change and extolled all journalists as “news people” regardless of what they cover. “I mean, Cosmo is telling their readers how to run for office,” he said to applause. “Teen Vogue rallied students to be activists — amazing! Grown-up Vogue is interpreting the political messages of white suits and black dresses. Even Bicycling is tackling police brutality.”
Lemon went on to credit the media with helping start movements like #MeToo, Time’s Up, Black Lives Matter and Never Again and calling for an end to gun violence, racism and gender inequality — thereby setting the tone for the awards.
And in that regard, while lots has changed in the media world, much stayed the same. Perpetual ASME favorite New York magazine won three awards — in the digital category for its web site, in the category of magazine section for “The Strategist,” its shopping recommendation digital and print pages, and in the columns and commentary category for three columns by writer Rebecca Traister that explored nuances of the #MeToo movement and the allegations against Harvey Weinstein. The New Yorker bounced back from last year’s losing streak with three Ellies — as the Alexander Calder-designed elephant statues are known — one for general excellence in news, sports and entertainment, one for feature photography for a photo series documenting the opioid epidemic, and one for public service for Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein.
“It’s not every day that journalism in any form is capable of not merely pointing out an individual wrong or abuse of power or pattern of criminality, but also of provoking a national and international discussion, too long deferred. I am so proud of what Ronan Farrow was able to do — his reporting was painstaking and unblinking and always undergirded somehow by extraordinary empathy for the victims of Harvey Weinstein’s predations,” New York editor in chief David Remnick said while accepting the award for public service. “I’d also like to acknowledge that while Ronan’s work was important to this essential conversation about gender and power, he is hardly alone or without precedent. Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey at The New York Times did remarkable work on Weinstein. This was an instance when the competition raised everybody’s work.”
Speaking of the Times, the newspaper won an award for each of its magazines: T, The New York Times Style Magazine, under Hanya Yanagihara, won the award for service and lifestyle, and The New York Times Magazine won in the reporting category.
But it wasn’t only magazines with New York in the name that took awards back to their offices — even if it felt that way. Texas Monthly won in the leisure category for, what else, “The Golden Age of BBQ” (beating out New York magazine’s guide to vegan food) and San Francisco magazine won in the special interest category.
Overall, Condé Nast had a better afternoon than Hearst, which scored one award, for Cosmopolitan’s “How to Run for Office” feature.
In addition to The New Yorker awards, GQ garnered two Ellies, for design and feature writing — making it the only other publication besides The New Yorker and New York to win multiple awards. W magazine won for photography, and Self won for social media. The award, editor in chief Carolyn Kylstra said, referencing the magazine’s shift to digital-only, was especially meaningful. “What you do when you no longer have that flagship property is that everything becomes your flagship property,” she said.
Perhaps understandably, considering the rough year for magazines, the ceremony emphasized a greater sense of purpose.
“Even in these challenging times, with no guarantees and all bets off, I believe there is no greater thing than being a magazine editor,” Dorothy Kalins said when presented with the Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame Award.
A full list of award winners appears below:
General Excellence, News, Sports and Entertainment
Winner: The New Yorker
Award citation: Breaking some of the biggest stories of the year online and in print, The New Yorker continued to shape not just the conversation, but the culture.
Service and Lifestyle
Winner: T, The New York Times Style Magazine
Award citation: Whether exploring exquisite spaces or clandestine destinations, T, The New York Times Style Magazine offered an immersive, sometimes rebellious vision of beauty.
Winner: San Francisco
Award citation: With its large format, lush photography, bold design and ambitious journalism, San Francisco served and challenged its readers.
Literature, Science and Politics
Award citation: Each themed issue of Aperture demonstrated the important role the magazine plays as an advocate for contemporary photography.
Award citation: Always fresh, consistently innovative, GQ continued to deliver a unique combination of spectacular typography, lively photography and exciting design.
Award citation: With its inventive and unexpected approach to photography, W challenged the way we see and experience popular culture.
Winner: The New Yorker for “Faces of an Epidemic,” photographs by Philip Montgomery, Oct. 30 at newyorker.com
Award citation: With images cinematic in their intensity, The New Yorker created a wrenching visual narrative depicting an American community devastated by the opioid crisis.
Winner: New York for “The Strategist”
Award citation: The Strategist is an elegantly orchestrated, relentlessly clever celebration of New York’s material world. This is truly inspired magazine making.
Winner: Cosmopolitan for “How to Run for Office,” by Laura Brounstein, Meredith Bryan and Jessica Goodman for Cosmopolitan and Amy Odell, Lori Fradkin and Emma Barker for cosmopolitan.com, November print issue and Oct. 10 at cosmopolitan.com
Award citation: With advice and encouragement from women on both sides of the political divide, this timely call-to-action galvanized readers into taking control of their electoral future.
Winner: Texas Monthly for “The Golden Age of BBQ,” by Daniel Vaughn and Patricia Sharpe, June
Award citation: Texas Monthly’s exhaustive research, transparent methodology, sharp writing and mouth-watering photography delighted casual and serious char-broiled foodies alike.
Winner: National Geographic for “Gender Revolution,” January
Award citation: Balancing empathy with hard data, National Geographic’s “Gender Revolution” was the definitive examination of a complex and still controversial subject.
Winner: New York
Award citation: New York’s innovative verticals offer daily coverage that is newsy, voicey, comprehensive and fun. This is one of the liveliest magazine experiences on the web.
Award citation: Each platform was used to best effect, but it was inclusivity, diversity and a commitment to portraying real women’s lived experiences that drove Self’s social media strategy.
Winner: Time and Mic for “Life After Addiction,” video by Aja Harris and Paul Moakley, Nov. 8 at time.com
Award citation: Tightly edited and visually compelling, this multilayered narrative of physical and emotional addiction provided hope for those setting out on the hard road to recovery.
Winner: SB Nation for “17776: An American Football Story,” by Jon Bois, July 5
Award citation: The judges called this an extraordinary combination of art, fiction and technology, an online acid trip that had to be experienced to be believed.
Winner: The New York Times Magazine for “The Uncounted,” by Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal, Nov. 19
Award citation: Meticulously reported and movingly told, this investigation of the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State found that far more civilians had been killed by airstrikes than the Pentagon would acknowledge. The judges deemed this a stunning and important work of journalism.
Winner: GQ for “A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof,” by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, September
Award citation: Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s reporting on the culture of white supremacy that shaped Dylann Roof was emotionally, morally and even physically brave, while her writing was bracing, startling and brilliantly structured.
Essays and Criticism
Winner: The Atlantic for “Lola’s Story,” by Alex Tizon, June
Award citation: Combining personal confession with unflinching reporting, the late Alex Tizon’s essay — one of the most widely read pieces in the history of The Atlantic — movingly explored issues of race, colonialism, immigration and, ultimately, human freedom.
Columns and Commentary
Winner: New York for three columns by Rebecca Traister: “Why the Harvey Weinstein Sexual-Harassment Allegations Didn’t Come Out Until Now,” Oct. 5, “Your Reckoning. And Mine.,” Nov. 12, and “This Moment Isn’t (Just) About Sex. It’s Really About Work,” Dec. 10, at thecut.com
Award citation: In a year when issues of gender and sexuality dominated the national conversation, no one shaped that exchange more than Rebecca Traister. Her wise and provocative columns helped make sense of a cultural transformation.
Winner: The New Yorker for “Abuses of Power,” Oct. 23 print issue, “Weighing the Costs of Speaking Out About Harvey Weinstein,” Oct. 27 at newyorker.com, and “Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies,” Nov. 6 at newyorker.com, by Ronan Farrow
Award citation: Ronan Farrow’s reporting helped spark the national discussion about gender and power. Farrow gave Harvey Weinstein’s accusers room to tell their stories, confirming jaw-dropping details about the machinery Weinstein used to silence his victims.