Awards season has arrived. The Oscars, the Golden Globes, all the rest. Some of these shows we love, most we secretly mock. There are way too many, to begin with. And Hollywood isn’t the only offender. Its love fests are merely the most glittery.
Magazine publishing hands out its share of industry awards as well. Beyoncé will never stride onstage to warble a tune praising “Best Production Values, Trade, Under 30,000 Circ.” Still, we periodically gather, hoist a glass or three, and dispense some shiny hardware.
And so, to add to the clutter, this month we announce a new arrival—The Magazine Medic Honors. The objective: To recognize American print books that, against the odds, have demonstrated vibrant health, or are showing renewed signs of vigor, due to exceptional editorial/creative management.
The Medic is pleased to present this admittedly way-too-limited list of 2014 honorees.
LAUNCH ISSUE: FourTwoNine. You’d barely recognize that this book is aimed at the LGBT community, so subtle is “the message,” but we imagine there’s a culturally coltish audience for a new luxe magazine that’s as flashy as it is semi-edgy. Editor Kevin Sessums, the well-known celebrity journalist, seems to have learned a lot from his years-long association with Vanity Fair.
BOUNCE-BACK STORY: The New Republic. Given a much-needed infusion of cash by a new owner, TNR introduced a totally refreshed book. At first, we were underwhelmed. But the editorial has grown steadily more self-assured. The ol’ mag is getting its energy back.
WEST COAST PUGILIST: Pacific Standard. When your new editor has been plucked from The Atlantic, much will be expected of you. And when your magazine’s name is Miller-McCune, well, it’s gonna be an uphill slog. Maria Streshinsky has done a nice job of developing this issues-driven book with a left-coast focus. And she even renamed it (thank goodness).
SURPRISINGLY ELEGANT: Popular Mechanics and Popular Science (tie). Who knew that two old-guard “nerd” manuals could be so smartly tuned up for a new generation? Both have advanced the art of talking about future tech—and both have donned counterintuitively stylish duds. A tip of the stethoscope to their editors.
ALWAYS GREAT, NOW GREATER: Esquire and New York (tie). These two all-stars invariably find ways to elevate the art of magazine-making, and neither has sacrificed quality to attract readers and advertisers. The issues are almost always laced with delightful surprises.
LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD: Autoweek. Crane’s perennial also-ran is the butterfly in the buff-book category. By rethinking literally everything from edit spin to paper stock to the spelling of its title (formerly AutoWeek), the magazine has rebuilt the motor beneath its sweet-looking bonnet.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: The New York Times’ T Magazine, Watch Journal, Scientific American, The Hollywood Reporter, Bloomberg Businessweek (if only for its inventive “Cover Trail” bit). Special Citation: My Favo(u)rite Magazine (technically a Brit, but a wonderful one-shot intended to help with medical expenses incurred by U.S. mag designer Robert Newman).
A well-known reporter, writer and editor—at Time Inc., Primedia and other American publishing companies—Cable Neuhaus has frequently been called on to help create, repair and run consumer and trade titles of various kinds.