AND THE NOMINEES ARE…: The finalists for the National Magazine Awards were revealed Monday morning.
National Geographic, a perennial presence at these things, led the pack with seven finalists for prizes. New York magazine, another veteran of the Ellies, and Bon Appétit, a relative newcomer, followed with six each, while GQ and The New Yorker settled for five.
Four Times Square was especially jubilant. Condé Nast picked up 26 nominations to Hearst Corp.’s and Time Inc.’s nine each. The awards have very little impact on ad sales or circulation, but they offer an even more prized commodity to publishers: bragging rights.
One editor who had reason to be giddy was Adam Rapoport. With creative director Alex Grossman, he redesigned Bon Appétit in 2011, and the magazine was rewarded with a shot at an Ellie the following year. But to have a contender in six categories suggested to Rapoport the magazine was now hitting its stride. “You can have that initial burst of enthusiasm and spirit, but it takes a while to hone it well and develop a voice and an aesthetic and a look,” he said.
Rapoport said he was pleased to see the magazine up for awards in categories typically dominated by fashion titles, like design and photography. It was validation of Bon App’s move away from the niche world of food to the more generic category of lifestyle.
“Food is what we orbit around, but there’s a lot more,” he said.
In the best of the lifestyle category, Bon App is going up against Hearst’s House Beautiful, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur and Texas Monthly. In the design category, the other nominees are Details, New York, Time and fashion upstart Bullett. In photography, Bon App faces off against W, Interview, National Geographic and Time. In the feature photography race, the finalists are Harper’s magazine, Martha Stewart Living, National Geographic as well as New York, singled out for its Sandy coverage, and W, for its March 2012 double Kate Moss covers.
Fashion titles have contenders in several categories. In the commentary category, Elle is holding its own against The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Slate and New York for three columns written by personal essay writer Daphne Merkin. New York’s nomination here marks Frank Rich’s first shot at an Ellie since leaving the Times. Meanwhile, Glamour is up against Chow, National Geographic, Slate and the music site Pitchfork in the best digital media category.
Several obscure magazines and some upstarts notched their first appearance at the Ellies, among them: MHQ, The Quarterly Journal of Military History; Byliner, a digital publisher, and Mental Floss, a hybrid humor and topical magazine from Dennis Media. There are also several renamed categories to reflect, for the first time, the inclusion of the digital magazine awards at the prime-time ceremony. After much debate, for instance, the profile-writing category was dropped, and eventually merged with another category to form the clunker “Feature Writing Incorporating Profile Writing.” In that category, GQ received two nominations: one for Karen Russell, the young Pulitzer Prize-nominated novelist, who profiled a one-eyed matador, and a second for Jay Kirk, who wrote about treating burn victims with experimental video games. The New Yorker, Wired, Texas Monthly and Byliner were the other finalists in that category.
Esquire, whose editor in chief David Granger had raised a big stink over the elimination of the profile-writing category, was nominated for best in its class — news, sports and entertainment magazines — and for best magazine section, “Man at His Best.” Among the service and fashion titles, the finalists in best in class are: Harper’s Bazaar; O, The Oprah Magazine; Real Simple, Vogue and Rodale’s Women’s Health. Last year, then under editor Richard Just, who was later ousted, the New Republic earned a best-in-class nomination in the literary and political magazine category, and, now under editor Franklin Foer, it’s repeated the trick, competing against MIT’s Technology Review, Mother Jones, The Paris Review and Poetry.