Journalists — from those shrouded in the depths of the newsroom to the star editors squarely in the limelight — had their moment on Thursday night during the Ellie Awards.
The American Society of Magazine Editors doled out accolades from Brooklyn Steel in Williamsburg, where the news business’ heaviest hitters — including The New Yorker’s David Remnick, former editor in chief of New York Magazine Adam Moss and Wired’s Nicholas Thompson — assembled for the festivities.
Although many constituted journalism’s veterans, there were some newcomers, too — and they ended up taking home awards. Founder of Kazoo Magazine Erin Bried made ASME history when she won the General Excellence, Special Interest award; she is the sole staff editor of the children’s magazine. The crowd went absolutely nuts when her name was announced, and she ran up to the stage to receive her award.
Topic, the video and photo-driven publication, is riding on a high — after having been around for less than two years, making the Netflix hit “Losers,” and with a staff of just nine full-time employees, the site won two Ellies: for Video, News and Opinion and Video, Service and Lifestyle. The Virginia Quarterly Review won its first Ellie for General Excellence, Literature, Science and Politics; when the win was revealed, someone from the publication’s camp screamed, “Holy s–t!” and clamped her hand over her mouth in disbelief.
As for the biggest trophies of the night, those went to the largest titles. The New York Times Magazine was honored with the Digital Innovation prize for its “Voyages” issue, Elif Batuman’s New Yorker article “Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry” took home the Feature Writing accolade and National Geographic won for General Excellence, News, Sports and Entertainment.
Interestingly enough, nearly all the Condé Nast winners were careful to give shout-outs to their overlords. When Doreen St. Félix of The New Yorker won for Columns and Commentary (after being nominated and losing last year), Remnick accepted the award for her. He thanked Condé for giving The New Yorker the freedom to do what it wants, nodding especially to exiting chief executive officer Bob Sauerberg and Anna Wintour. “They’ve never asked to see a story from me ahead of time,” he said.
After winning for the Design and Photography, Service and Lifestyle category — an award mostly earned under former editor in chief Jim Nelson, who exited last September — his successor Will Welch also called out to Sauerberg and Wintour in his thank-yous. So did Bon Apétit’s editor in chief Adam Rapaport after taking the prize for best Social Media.
Moss was honored with the Hall of Fame Award, following the ASME board’s unanimous vote to induct him. According to board member Chris Keyes, who is the editor in chief of Outside Magazine and oversees the selection process for the Ellie nominees, the board decided on Moss as soon as he revealed he was retiring, and leaving New York Magazine in January.
“There wasn’t really much discussion about it,” Keyes said. “It was: ‘Should we do this? Is it too soon?’ That was about it.”
Before Moss accepted his award, a video montage displaying key covers from his time at Seven Days, the New York Times Magazine and New York played in front of the crowd — who ooh’ed and aah’ed while they recalled the Bernie Madoff, Larry Nassar and “Cosby: the Women” stories.
In his speech, Moss thanked those he’d worked with, the tip-top editors and lowliest fact-checking interns alike, noting their integral jobs in the collaborative journalistic process.
“I’d like to think I’m standing here as a proxy for all the great people I’ve worked with and taken credit for,” he said. “Leaving New York has felt like my funeral. It’s been confusing, it’s really too much. Some say my exit signals an end for a magazine era they don’t want to end. But it’s not a moment to mourn. The era we are entering is even more exciting than the ones we are leaving behind.”