NEW YORK—Despite honoring an industry in never-ending flux, much about the 2018 National Magazine Awards (or the Ellies, named for the accompanying elephant-shaped trophy) remained consistent with well-established tradition.
Wine and cocktails flowed liberally, a TV news anchor reaffirmed the importance of journalism amid trying times (in between quips about the presence of Anna Wintour and Joanna Coles), and Adam Moss and David Remnick—editors of New York magazine and The New Yorker, respectively—wore thin the Cipriani ballroom’s carpeting during repeated trips to the stage to collect honors on behalf of their publications.
What was glaringly different about this year’s 53rd annual Ellies was the omission of its most prestigious award: Magazine of the Year. The American Society of Magazine Editors, which administers the awards, indicated that the move was a reflection of the fact the Ellies are no longer confined to honoring print magazines alone. Replacing Magazine of the Year are two new categories: one for social media and one for digital innovation.
“Now that every category is open to digital content, ASME believes that the goal of the Ellies—to recognize editorial excellence in a wide range of publications—is better served by focusing attention on the finalists and winners in the four General Excellence categories,” said ASME in a statement announcing the change.
“It’s a bit like the Oscars deciding to stop giving out an award for Best Picture,” opined one publisher in attendance.
What remains constant, however, is the Ellies’ commitment to honoring truly inspiring work from some of the best and brightest in the industry—not just in news and general interest reporting, but in sports, food, personal service, entertainment, lifestyle, criticism, fiction, design, and photography.
The big winners this year, like in so many previous years (and not undeservedly so), were New York, which took home three wins among ten nominations, and The New Yorker, which also won three awards, among eight nominations.
Apart from Moss and Remnick, the guest of honor was Metropolitan Home, Saveur, and Garden Design founding editor Dorothy Kalins, who joins the likes of Tina Brown, Graydon Carter, Hugh Hefner, and Gloria Steinem in the now 29-member Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame.
The four General Excellence winners, which, according to ASME, are now the most prestigious honors, were Aperture (for Literature, Science, and Politics), San Francisco magazine (Special Interest), T: The New York Times Style Magazine (Service and Lifestyle), and The New Yorker (News, Sports, and Entertainment).
After Outside editor and ASME president Chris Keyes honored the previously announced winner of the ASME Award for Fiction (Zoetrope: All-Story‘s second consecutive win) and the five honorees of the ASME Next Awards, honoring magazine journalists under 30, “CNN Tonight” anchor Don Lemon took to the stage to begin the proceedings in earnest.
“It’s been a tough year for all of us,” Lemon quipped. “I was 25 when it all started.”
The first winner, in the Public Interest category, was The New Yorker, for Ronan Farrow’s reporting, which helped to break open the Harvey Weinstein scandal. It was The New Yorker‘s eighth win all-time in the category.
Cosmopolitan then scored a repeat victory in the Personal Service category for its October story, “How to Run for Office,” followed by W, which earned its fourth Ellie award for photography.
W editor Stefano Tonchi, accepting the award, said that the magazine tried to get celebrities to do something different and special in their portraits, “like a man kissing a man or a woman kissing a woman.”
“Men kissing men and women kissing women,” replied Lemon, returning to the podium. “I’m here for all of it.”
After Aperture won for General Excellence: Literature, Science and Politics, Texas Monthly earned the Ellie for Leisure Interests, for its July feature, “The Golden Age of BBQ.” Accepting the award was Tim Taliaferro, who stepped aside as EIC of the magazine just two weeks ago amid some controversy.
Honored in the Single-Topic Issue category was National Geographic, which famously stepped outside of its yellow box for the January issue titled “Gender Revolution.”
“I have never, in 38 years of journalism, had a reaction the way we did after we put a nine-year-old transgender girl on the cover,” said editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg, adding that readers credited the issue with enabling conversations they couldn’t have had before.
After wins by New York and Time/Mic in the Columns/Commentary and Video categories, respectively, Alex Tizon earned a posthumous Ellie Award for Essays and Criticism for his viral June 2017 story in The Atlantic, “My Family’s Slave.”
Next, Self, which shuttered its print edition at the end of 2016, earned the first-ever Ellie for Social Media.
“This was a really huge pivot and change for us,” said editor-in-chief Carolyn Kylstra, accepting the award. “I’m so proud of the team and what we accomplished. When you no longer have that flagship property, everything else has to become the flagship property.”
New York had two separate sections nominated in the Magazine Section category, which was won by its trendspotting section, “The Strategist.”
The other first-time category, Digital Innovation, went to SB Nation, for its July feature about what football will look like in the future—which the category’s judges affectionately deemed “an online acid trip.”
“Holy shit,” remarked editor Elena Bergeron.
Among other winners and nominees of note, TMC Pulse—the monthly magazine serving Texas Medical Center—earned a surprise nomination in the Feature Writing category (GQ won). And despite losing out to T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Bon Appétit earned an eighth consecutive nomination in the General Excellence: Service and Lifestyle category.
2018 Ellie Awards Finalists (Winners in Bold)
News, Sports and Entertainment
The New Yorker; The Atlantic; The California Sunday Magazine; National Geographic; New York
Service and Lifestyle
T: The New York Times Style Magazine; Bon Appétit; Eater; Saveur; Teen Vogue
San Francisco; Bicycling; Inc.; Outside; Texas Monthly
Literature, Science and Politics
Aperture; The Marshall Project; Oxford American; Popular Science; Virginia Quarterly Review
- The New Yorker for “Abuses of Power,” October 23 print issue, “Weighing the Costs of Speaking Out About Harvey Weinstein,” October 27 at newyorker.com, and “Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies,” November 6 at newyorker.com, by Ronan Farrow
- Harper’s Magazine for “Where Health Care Won’t Go,” by Helen Ouyang, June
- The New Yorker for “The Takeover,” by Rachel Aviv, October 9
- ProPublica and NPR for “The Last Person You’d Expect to Die in Childbirth,” by Nina Martin, ProPublica, and Renee Montagne, NPR, May 12, “Lost Mothers,” by Nina Martin, Emma Cillekens and Alessandra Freitas, July 17, and “Nothing Protects Black Women From Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth,” by Nina Martin, ProPublica, and Renee Montagne, NPR, December 7, at propublica.org
- Vanity Fair for “The 5th Risk,” September, and “Made in the U.S.D.A.,” December, by Michael Lewis
- Cosmopolitan for “How to Run for Office,” reporting by Laura Brounstein, Meredith Bryan, Jessica Goodman, Emily C. Johnson, Tess Koman, Rachel Mosely, Rebecca Nelson and Helen Zook, October 10 at cosmopolitan.com and November print issue
- Consumer Reports for “Too Many Meds? America’s Love Affair With Prescription Medication,” by Teresa Carr, August 3 at consumerreports.org
- Grist for “Ask Umbra’s 21-Day Apathy Detox,” by Umbra Fisk, April 17 at grist.org
- Seventeen for “This Is a Story About Suicide,” by Andrea Stanley, November/December
- Women’s Health for the article “Wakey Wakey!” by Malia Jacobson, December print issue; “Sleep Center,” December 11 on womenshealthmag.com; and the video “Wakey Wakey!,” December 11 on facebook.com/womenshealthmagazine
W; GQ Style; National Geographic; New York; Virginia Quarterly Review
GQ; Bon Appétit; ESPN The Magazine; Men’s Health; Wired
- 5280 for “The 5280 Guide to Four Corners,” by Kasey Cordell, September
- Bicycling for “How Cycling Works,” October
- Bon Appétit for “A Simple Roast Chicken,” by Amiel Stanek, October
- New York for “The Encyclopedia of Vegan Food,” by Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite, November 13-26
- Texas Monthly for “The Golden Age of BBQ,” by Daniel Vaughn, June
- National Geographic for “Gender Revolution,” January
- The California Sunday Magazine for “A Teenage Life,” December 3
- Columbia Journalism Review for “The Trump Issue,” Fall
- New York for “My New York,” October 16-29
- The New York Times Magazine for “The New York Issue,” June 4
- The New Yorker for “Faces of an Epidemic,” photographs by Philip Montgomery, October 30 at newyorker.com
- The New Republic for “Charlottesville’s Faces of Hate,” photographs by Mark Peterson, August 14 at newrepublic.com
- New York for “The 43-Day Fashion Shoot,” photographs by Holly Andres, August 20 at thecut.com
- TIME for “Death Reigns on the Streets of Duterte’s Philippines,” photographs by James Nachtwey, January 16
- Vogue for “American Women,” photographs by Lynsey Addario, Evgenia Arbugaeva, Daniel Arnold, Jonas Bendiksen, Cass Bird, Charlie Engman, Alex Majoli, Bella Newman, Jackie Nickerson, Benjamin Rasmussen, Stefan Ruiz, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Lorna Simpson, Deanna and Ed Templeton and Mayan Toledano, March 8 at vogue.com
- New York for “The Strategist”
- Backpacker for “The Play List”
- Bon Appétit for “Starters”
- Martha Stewart Weddings for “Planner”
- New York for “The Culture Pages”
SELF; Mother Jones; The New Yorker; Seventeen; TIME
- TIME and Mic for “Life After Addiction,” video by Aja Harris and Paul Moakley, November 8 at time.com
- The Atlantic for “What Will Happen to Undocumented Doctors?,” video by Jeremy Raff, February 2
- The New Yorker for “A Fever Dream at Beautycon,” video by Tim Hussin, September 18
- The Outline for “The Republican Who Quit the Party Because of Trump,” March 22
- Vogue for “We Are All Fabulous . . . ,” video by Oliver Hadlee Pearch, February 24; “Paris, Je T’aime,” video by Gordon von Steiner, July 20; and “Workin’ 9 to 5 . . . Inside the Vogue Office!,” video by Charlotte Wales, September 25
- SB Nation for “17776: An American Football Story,” by Jon Bois, July 5
- HuffPost Highline for “FML,” by Michael Hobbes, December 14
- The Marshall Project With Condé Nast Entertainment and Participant Media for “We Are Witnesses,” by Jenny Carchman, October 26 at themarshallproject.org
- National Geographic Traveler for “North: An Illustrated Travelogue,” by Christoph Niemann, April 4
- TIME for “Finding Home: 3 Babies, 3 Families, 1 Year,” photographs by Lynsey Addario, reporting by Aryn Baker, video by Francesca Trianni, December 18
- The New York Times Magazine for “The Uncounted,” by Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal, November 19
- The California Sunday Magazine with the Investigative Fund for “Below Deck,” by Lizzie Presser, February 5
- ESPN The Magazine for “Sin City or Bust,” April 24, “Standing Down,” November 13, and “Roger Goodell Has a Jerry Jones Problem,” December 4, by Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham
- Harper’s Magazine with the Investigative Fund for “Ghost Nation,” by Nick Turse, July
- National Geographic and ProPublica for “How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico,” by Ginger Thompson, June 12 at propublica.org
- The New York Times Magazine With ProPublica for “Kushnerville,” by Alec MacGillis, May 28
- The New Yorker for “On the Brink,” by Evan Osnos, September 18
- GQ for “A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof,” by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, September
- The Atlantic for “My President Was Black,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, January/February
- The Atlantic for “A Death at Penn State,” by Caitlin Flanagan, November
- The New York Times Magazine for “The Mailroom,” by Jeanne Marie Laskas, January 22
- TMC Pulse for “Alan Dickson’s Final Days,” by Alexandra Becker, July
- Virginia Quarterly Review for “The Useful Village,” by Ben Mauk, Spring
- Wired With Epic Magazine for “Love in the Time of Robots,” by Alex Mar, November
Essays and Criticism
- The Atlantic for “Lola’s Story,” by Alex Tizon, June
- Elle for “Her Eyes Were Watching the Stars,” by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, June
- New York for “The Uninhabitable Earth,” by David Wallace-Wells, July 10-23
- The New Yorker for “Losing Streak,” by Kathryn Schulz, February 13 and 20
- Smithsonian for “What Ever Happened to the Russian Revolution?” by Ian Frazier, October
Columns and Commentary
- New York for three columns by Rebecca Traister: “Why the Harvey Weinstein Sexual-Harassment Allegations Didn’t Come Out Until Now,” October 5, “Your Reckoning. And Mine.,” November 12, and “This Moment Isn’t (Just) About Sex. It’s Really About Work,” December 10, at thecut.com
- BuzzFeed News for three columns by Bim Adewunmi: “How the Oscar Flub Demonstrates the Limits of Black Graciousness,” March 1, “How Oprah Got Her Acting Groove Back,” April 10, and “Maria Sharapova’s Rivalry With Serena Williams Is in Her Head,” September 9
- ESPN The Magazine for three columns by Howard Bryant: “The Williams Movement,” February 27, “Power Play,” April 24, and “How Is This Still a Debate?” December 4
- Longreads for three columns by Laurie Penny: “The Horizon of Desire” October 10, “We’re All Mad Here: Weinstein, Women, and the Language of Lunacy,” October 23, and “The Unforgiving Minute,” November 7
- Pitchfork for three columns by Jayson Greene: “Is Rihanna the Most Influential Pop Singer of the Past Decade?” April 5, “Can Music Heal Trauma? Exploring the Therapeutic Powers of Sound,” September 20, and “Do Androids Dream of Electric Guitars? Exploring the Future of Musical A.I.,” June 12