ELLIE OF THE YEAR: This year’s finalists for the National Magazine Awards’ Magazine of the Year are Esquire, New York, The New Yorker, Popular Mechanics and Time. All the award winners will be revealed at the so-called Ellies on May 3 at the New York Marriott Marquis, with Brian Williams of NBC News hosting the event.

“This is a great category because it’s about how a publication performs as a brand, not just in print,” said Rick Stengel, managing editor of Time. He noted that big news events like the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the Arab Spring and the royal wedding provided rich material for the newsweekly’s print, online and video platforms last year.

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A cadre of 345 judges from the magazine and journalism education fields select the finalists and winners of the various Ellies in both print and digital, with a panel of 13 judges adjudicating the Magazine of the Year prize — the winner of which has already been selected, said Sid Holt, chief executive of the American Society of Magazine Editors. (There’s actually a secret sixth finalist selected by the judges, in case one of the top five is disqualified.)

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker — which is nominated for six other Ellies, as is New York — pointed out the diversity of finalists for the top honor and the attendant complexity of choosing a winner. “Because of the diversity of magazines, the radical differences in intent or subject matter or spirit, there’s an element of apples and oranges that’s inescapable,” he noted. “But that takes nothing away from the fact that it is, as all those Oscar nominations tell us every year, an honor just to be nominated.”

The award, won by National Geographic last year, honors the title that has most distinguished itself across the entire spectrum of publishing, including print, online and mobile devices. “This is what it means to run a magazine today, which is a much broader enterprise than just the print product,” said Jim Meigs, editor in chief of Popular Mechanics and editorial director of the men’s enthusiast group at Hearst Magazines. “We are running little idea incubators and we’ve found that print people are actually good at this.”

Adam Moss, editor in chief of New York, took the nomination in stride. “Well, everyone is very happy about it, of course,” he noted. “But we beat Popular Mechanics last week in the bowling league, so really, the Magazine of the Year thing is just gravy.”

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