A lot has changed in the media industry in the last decade, and magazines, in particular, have had to adjust to the evolving landscape. But on Monday night, editors and their counterparts on the business side, paused to congratulate themselves for the strides they’ve made in digital and print journalism at the National Magazine Awards dinner at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
Although the less than glitzy locale served as a tacit reminder that the gilded days of magazines were perhaps behind them, notables like Norman Pearlstine, Charles Townsend, Bob Sauerberg, Anna Wintour, David Carey, Martha Stewart, Steve Lacy and Janice Min were on the scene.
Following a chicken dinner, ABC News’ David Muir emceed the show, and asked award recipients to keep their speeches to one minute — a somewhat tall order.
The New Yorker’s David Remnick started the speeches with his acceptance for general excellence. Remnick thanked his Condé Nast bosses, Townsend and Sauerberg, as well as his publisher Lisa Hughes and the company’s artistic director and his “friend and great counsellor” Anna Wintour.
That wouldn’t be the last shout-out that Wintour would get during the night. Glamour editor in chief Cindi Leive also thanked the Vogue editor for her counsel when she accepted the award for general excellence in the service and lifestyle category.
Chief creative officer and co-presient of Guggenheim Media’s entertainment group, Janice Min, whom many consider to be a leading candidate for the editor in chief job at Vanity Fair once Graydon Carter retires, grabbed her Ellie for general excellence in special interest magazines, and gave a somewhat lengthy speech about her acumen at turning around The Hollywood Reporter.
“When I started at The Hollywood Reporter in 2010, it was about as low as you can go. It was very sad, not very good. It was a daily trade paper about to go out of business. It literally had no one’s respect,” Min said in full self-congratulatory mode. “Within three months, we pulled the whole thing up.”
The media gods apparently didn’t care for the details on how Min did it because music began playing, louder and louder, until she finally paused.
“I’m getting played off. This really is like the Oscars of magazines,” she said.
But if it truly were the Oscars, then Graydon Carter would have been there, and he wasn’t, despite the fact that Monica Lewinsky was nominated for an Ellie for her Vanity Fair essay on her post-White House intern life.
Instead, Lewinsky arrived with VF digital director Mike Hogan. She wouldn’t take home the Ellie — Roger Angell did for The New Yorker — but told Muir later in the elevator post-awards that it was “so humbling to be honored.”
“It was so brave,” Muir said, referring to Lewinsky’s essay. “Perfect pitch.”
The fanfare surrounding Lewinsky’s appearance took a backseat when Time photojournalist Jim Nachtwey gave a rousing speech about his love for his craft that cut to the core of why most in the room chose to be journalists.
“It’s the combined work of all of us together that builds the critical mass of information and insight that creates change and helps us make the world a better place,” Nachtwey said. “We’re the point people the first link with reality in an equilateral journalistic chain…we belive that people’s opinions matter and that our society cannot function properly without the information that we provide. We question the powerful. We hold decision makers accountable.”
He closed his speech thanking his fellow journalists for their “understanding” that “not every story” has to “sell something,” to which he earned two standing ovations.
Later, Wintour accepted Vogue’s Ellie for magazine of the year. She thanked her staff, stylists and photographers, as well as the publication’s “many collaborators” from “Kim [Kardashian] and Kanye [West] to Amal Clooney” and the “late, great Oscar de la Renta.”
“But this award also recognizes what Vogue has and always will stand for, especially at a time when who and what we compete with is constantly changing,” WIntour said.