THE BIG WINNERS: The New Yorker, Esquire, Backpacker and Wired were the big winners at the American Society of Magazine Editors’ National Magazine Awards on Thursday evening, taking home three Ellies each — though none of the women’s fashion books that were finalists won.

Wired received its fifth general excellence award for magazines with circulation from 500,000 to 1 million, as well as the award for magazine section and design (it grabbed the latter prize last year as well). Reader’s Digest won its first-ever general excellence award, for titles with over 2 million circulation, a vote of confidence for the redesign crafted by editor in chief Peggy Northrop, a reportedly expensive poach from More magazine. Esquire, which recently took to its own Web site to deny a blog’s report it was an endangered brand, had a strong showing with awards for feature writing (an article by Chris Jones about the life and death of a soldier in Iraq), personal service and leisure interest. GQ, which was nominated eight times this year, took home only one award, for photography.

This story first appeared in the May 1, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Once again, Backpacker had a resolutely strong showing, winning for essay, personal service online and general excellence online for sites with under 1 million unique visitors. The Colorado-based magazine has been nominated eight times in the last four years and has won five Ellies.

The New Yorker’s James Wood was honored for criticism, and the magazine took home the fiction prize. Its photo portfolio of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and their loved ones, which was famously cited by Colin Powell in his endorsement of Barack Obama last year, was also recognized. The New York Times Magazine won for reporting by Dexter Filkins, already a serial award winner for his book, “The Forever War.”

Though Condé Nast (which owns WWD) took home the most awards — seven in all — a range of media companies was represented, including Rodale’s Bicycling for public service; Wenner with Rolling Stone in the reporting category; Bonnier Corp.’s Saveur for single-topic issue; Field & Stream for general excellence, and New York Magazine for general excellence online for sites with over 1 million unique visitors.

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