COVER UP: New York magazine and The New Yorker yet again lead in nominations for awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors, this time for its third annual Best Cover Contest. New York landed six nominations, including one of Eliot Spitzer with an arrow pointing to his groin, labeled “brain” after his prostitution scandal this spring, and one for its summer issue with a photo image of presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama fist-bumping on the beach. The New Yorker earned four nods, one for the March 17 cover with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both reaching for the “3 a.m. phone call.” Surprisingly — or not — the controversial July 21 cover depicting Barack and Michelle Obama dressed as gun-toting Muslims didn’t get a mention.
Other magazines honored include Wired with three nominations and The New York Times Magazine, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Texas Monthly, Time, and Vanity Fair, all of which gathered two nods. Eligible covers were published between Aug. 1, 2007 and July 31, 2008. The winners will be revealed on Oct. 6 at the American Magazine Conference in San Francisco. — Stephanie D. Smith
GOD VERSUS MAN: The smell of brown liquor was detectable immediately upon entering the Pierre at Monday lunchtime, although Christopher Hitchens, glass of amber liquid in hand, was surrounded by fans and critics three or four people deep. Also there was the Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, who had come to debate Hitchens about science and religion in a conversation moderated by Newsweek editor Jon Meacham and The Washington Post’s Sally Quinn. The juxtapositions were apt for an event that seemed predestined to be both divisive and entertaining, at least for the eminences gathered.
“I wanted to tell this room of elites that we are not out of touch with America,” said Quinn. She said Hitchens had demanded to know how The Washington Post could publish an astrology column alongside serious news. “The answer is readers,” Quinn said, going on to read each of the speakers’ horoscopes. She also referred to Hitchens’ anti-religion book as “God Is Great,” before a growing murmur in the room led her to yelp, “No, no, no — ‘God Is NOT Great.’” Hitchens replied, “Salman Rushdie also chops one word from my book — he says it’s one word too long.” For once, he didn’t elaborate.
Albacete, a former physicist who compared explaining faith to explaining to your family why you have fallen in love, did not prove to be the debating partner Hitchens expected, and this seemed to make him glummer than usual. “I was told I was going to be debating a person of faith,” he complained when Albacete amiably conceded another point on the scientific world view. — Irin Carmon
PRETTYING UP: Self is adding to its beauty coverage. For one, the magazine is launching a weekly beauty newsletter, Beauty Quick Tip, that will be e-mailed to users beginning Oct. 7. The newsletter is part of enhanced features, community tools and content on self.com, which will unveil a redesign the same day. Additionally, Nicole Catanese has been named as beauty features editor, reporting to beauty director Elaine D’Farley. She filled a spot left open by Leah Wyar, who joined Fitness as beauty director. Catanese was most recently associate beauty and fitness editor at Elle, and a beauty writer and editor for Fitness, Woman’s Day and Good Housekeeping. She will join the magazine on Oct. 6. — S.D.S.
ADVERTISING WILL STILL EXIST NEXT YEAR: As newspapers and magazines continue to throw out warning signals regarding the advertising outlook for the remainder of this year and the first half of 2009, Jack Klues, chairman of Publicis Groupe Media, predicted spending won’t change radically, although some aspects, such as the length of TV commercials, are likely to be revamped in the future. Klues was part of a panel discussion for the sixth annual Advertising Week, which also included Wenda Harris Millard, president, media and co-chief executive officer of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia; Laura Klauberg, senior vice president global media at Unilever, and Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook.
Sandberg said Facebook has just launched an ad unit that encourages reader engagement with ads and comments about them. MTV was one of the first to try it and the network received dozens of comments on ads promoting the MTV Video Music Awards. Executives at MTV said the format enabled them to better understand their viewers. Another Facebook advertiser, Mazda, is also encouraging feedback to help build a new car. Mazda is soliciting votes on the design and plans to have it available by 2018 — just in time for Facebook’s core 20-something audience to be looking for a mid-size family sedan.
And in perhaps the best tip of the day, Millard said it’s important for advertising “to be the conversation, instead of interrupting it.” Just ask TiVo. — Amy Wicks
CAPITAL FASHION: Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin and Cindy McCain’s wardrobes aside, Washington is known as the nation’s center of power, not a nexus of fashion. But The Washington Post — following the trail already blazed by The New York Times and T and the Wall Street Journal and WSJ. — is setting out to dispel that notion with the launch of a monthly fashion publication titled FW or Fashion Washington. The glossy, newspaper-sized supplement, which bowed last Wednesday, will b e devoted to covering “high-end fashion” with a local interpretive trend twist. FW will be distributed monthly with The Washington Post to nearly 100,000 subscribers and will be available at upscale boutiques, salons, restaurants and hotels in the metro area. The magazine’s Web site, fashionwashington.com, will feature various sections, including a cover story each issue focusing on a trend, a Q&A section with a local luminary (Michelle Fenty, wife of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, was featured in the first issue), profiles of fashion heavyweights and a section showcasing what notables are wearing to the parties around town. Other features include an advice column, a periodic column on men’s fashion and trend tips. Of course, the additional opportunities to generate advertising revenue are a given. — Kristi Ellis