General Excellence, but Whose?
Several laid-off editors could have their work honored at the Ellie Awards.
As more than 500 magazine editors and publishers gather at Cipriani for the ASME Ellie Awards gala on February 7, a few faces may be missing — namely, some of the people who earned the awards.
Media is, after all, an industry of churn. But at least 10 of the top editors from this year’s 64 honored publications left or were pushed out in the last 12 months. (See: The Atlantic, Seventeen, Wired, and Chicago.)
Take Bloomberg Businessweek, the weekly nominated for three awards in General Excellence in News, Sports and Entertainment; Website; and Reporting for the late August story “Walmart’s Crime Problem.”
Under Ellie Award protocol, if Bloomberg Businessweek wins in any of its categories, the award will be accepted by the new editor-in-chief Megan Murphy, who’s currently working on a complete overhaul of the magazine as per Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith’s request.
[UPDATE: According to an Ellie Awards spokesperson, Pollock will be at the event to accept the General Excellence award if it is awarded to Bloomberg Businessweek.]
Of course, the Ellies don’t judge based on the financial stability a publication, but perhaps a win or three will give Smith some food for thought about his path toward reinvention.
Cosmopolitan — which is nominated for two awards, including Magazine of the Year — has had its own mishmash on the masthead. Editor-in-chief Michele Promaulayko started in September after Joanna Coles was promoted to chief content officer of Hearst Magazines.
Though Promaulayko had been at Cosmo for almost a decade until 2009, her return prompted a curious series of comings and goings which sent editorial talent flying between Cosmo, Real Simple, and Women’s Health.
In October, Leslie Yazel left her role as director of editorial content at Cosmo to join Real Simple as editor-in-chief. Senior deputy editor Sarah Austin and art director Danielle Jones joined Yazel at Real Simple, while deputy editor Marina Khidekel left Cosmo for Women’s Health.
Over in regional magazines, Texas Monthly received nominations for two articles, both assigned under former editor-in-chief Brian Sweany, who was let go in November when new ownership looked to shake things up. Texas Monthly will have a table at the awards this year, where EIC Tim Taliaferro will pick up any honors.
While such nominations provide redress to departed editors, in some cases, the major leadership change has paid off. This year, ESPN the Magazine is nominated in the category of General Excellence, just one year into the tenure of editor-in-chief Alison Overholt. Chicago also received its General Excellence nod based on issues created under new EIC Susanna Homan, who joined the magazine in March.
Despite the high turnover, it is not unusual for longtime editors to do well at the Ellies. The New Yorker — whose EIC David Remnick has been in his post for 19 years — is nominated for five awards this year. New York Magazine — whose editor Adam Moss has been around for 13 years — is nominated for 10 awards, giving it the most nominations for the fourth year in a row.
Regardless of who this year's winners are, there is steep competition in the category of poetic justice. According to witnesses at the 2016 Ellies, David Granger received a standing ovation just days after his sudden dismissal from his 19-year-post as editor-in-chief of Esquire. That win, for Essays and Criticism, was the 17th Ellie won by the magazine with Granger at the helm.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article included Bon Appetit as an example of a magazine with leadership changes, and linked to an April Fool's joke from the magazine. Adam Rapoport is still EIC.