American Society of Magazine Editors

44th Annual National Magazine Awards Winners Announced

April 30, 2009

Backpacker, Esquire, The New Yorker and Wired Win Three Ellies Apiece. First-Time Wins by AARP The Magazine, Automobile, Field & Stream, The New York Times Magazine.

NEW YORK, NY (April 30, 2009)—The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) presented the industry’s most prestigious editorial honors tonight at the 44th annual National Magazine Awards.  The gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City gathered editors, publishers, industry professionals and guests to celebrate 26 winners across 20 categories.  Named after the Alexander Calder stabile “Elephant,” the 2009 “Ellies” drew an impressive 1,707 entries from more than 350 print and online magazines.

The awards honor print and online magazines that consistently demonstrate superior execution of editorial objectives, innovative editorial techniques, journalistic enterprise and imaginative design.  Established in 1966, the National Magazine Awards is the preeminent program in the magazine industry to honor editorial excellence. ASME presents the awards program in association with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

“This year we celebrate the vitality of large, general interest publications like Reader’s Digest and AARP The Magazine, while recognizing the growth of smaller targeted titles like Backpacker and Automobile,” said Sid Holt, Chief Executive, ASME.  “The wide variety of nominees and winners speaks to a standard of excellence in our industry that hasn’t wavered despite the global economic recession.”

The National Magazine Awards 2009 winners are:

  • Reader’s Digest for General Excellence (over 2,000,000 circulation)
  • Field & Stream for General Excellence (1,000,000 to 2,000,000 circulation)
  • Wired for General Excellence (500,000 to 1,000,000 circulation)
  • Texas Monthly for General Excellence (250,000 to 500,000 circulation)
  • Foreign Policy for General Excellence (100,000 to 250,000 circulation)
  • Print for General Excellence (under 100,000 circulation)
  • Saveur for Single-Topic Issue
  • Wired for Magazine Section
  • The New York Times Magazine for Reporting
  • Bicycling for Public Interest
  • Esquire for Feature Writing
  • Rolling Stone for Profile Writing
  • Backpacker for Essays
  • Automobile for Columns and Commentary
  • The New Yorker for Reviews and Criticism
  • The New Yorker for Fiction
  • Esquire for Personal Service
  • Esquire for Leisure Interests
  • Wired for Design
  • GQ for Photography
  • National Geographic for Photojournalism
  • The New Yorker for Photo Portfolio
  • for General Excellence Online (less than 1 million uniques)
  • for General Excellence Online (1 million uniques and above)
  •  for Personal Service Online
  • AARP The Magazine Online for Interactive Feature

Backpacker, Esquire, The New Yorker and Wired each won three Ellies. AARP The Magazine, Automobile, Field & Stream and The New York Times Magazine each took home their first award.  Reader’s Digest took home its first General Excellence award.

Special thanks to sponsors Zinio, and Getty Images/Pump Audio for their continued support of the MPA and ASME.

Following are the 2009 National Magazine Award winners with judges’ citations. (Note that editors listed held that position at the time the issue was published in 2008.)

This category recognizes overall excellence in magazines in six circulation categories. It honors the effectiveness with which writing, reporting, editing and design all come together to command readers’ attention and fulfill the magazine’s unique editorial mission.

Under 100,000 circulation

Print: Joyce Rutter Kaye, editor-in-chief, for February, April and October issues

Entertaining, informative and beautifully packaged, Print explores design in its social, political and historical contexts. Whatever the subject, Print explains to its readers why our world looks the way it looks and why the way it looks matters.  This is Print’s 11th nomination and fifth win in the General Excellence category.

100,000 to 250,000 circulation

Foreign Policy: Moisés Naím, editor-in-chief, for January/February, March/April, May/June issues

Serious without being pompous, deep without being self-indulgent, Foreign Policy is an essential guide to global politics, economics and ideas for people who want to know what’s really happening in an increasingly complicated world. This is the third General Excellence Ellie and seventh nomination overall for Foreign Policy.

250,000 to 500,000 circulation

Texas Monthly: Evan Smith, president and editor-in-chief for May; Evan Smith, president and editor-in-chief and Jake Silverstein, editor for November and December issues

Texas Monthly is the city magazine of that state called Texas, and there is nothing about the place—from its big businesses, like college football, to its poets, like Willie Nelson; from its problems, like falsely convicted inmates, to its fine cuisine, barbecue and pie—that it doesn’t deeply explore and precisely map in prose and pictures.  Nominated 54 times, this is the magazine’s tenth Ellie and fourth win for General Excellence.

500,000 to 1,000,000 circulation

Wired: Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief, for February, April and November issues

In its 16th year, Wired continues to evolve as the most innovative and sophisticated guide to how technology is changing the world. Ranging across business, entertainment, science and culture, its mix is surprising and intuitive, articulated with graphic attitude and old-fashioned reporting.  Wired is sometimes hilarious, often ironic, relentlessly smart and always engaging.  Wired has been nominated 21 times and has taken home nine Ellies overall; five for General Excellence.

1,000,000 to 2,000,000 circulation

Field & Stream: Anthony Licata, editor, for May, June, December/January issues

From tips on becoming a total outdoorsman to profiles of veteran amputees reentering the world of hunting, Field & Stream respects its readers enough to challenge them. Like all great magazines, this one is much more ambitious than it needs to be and delivers the goods, but also provokes with content that is consistently savvy, witty and large-hearted.  Nominated 14 times, this is Field & Stream’s first Ellie.

Over 2,000,000 circulation

Reader’s Digest: Peggy Northrop, editor-in-chief, for June, August and September issues

Reader’s Digest has reinvented itself with fresh design, imaginative and timely feature stories and an engaging contemporary voice.  Articles about ordinary people overcoming extraordinary obstacles, useful and accessible service pieces on health and personal finance, and delightful humor columns make Reader’s Digest not only a good companion but also a great escape.  This is the magazine’s first win in the General Excellence category.

This category recognizes magazines that have devoted an issue to an in-depth examination of one topic.  It honors the ambition, comprehensiveness and imagination with which a magazine treats its subject.

Saveur: James Oseland, editor-in-chief, for A World of Breakfast, October

Through striking images and evocative writing, Saveur succeeds in elevating breakfast from a simple meal of sustenance to one worthy of celebration. From basic bacon and eggs to stir-fried noodles served in Singapore, this delightful package opens readers’ eyes to the intimacy—and surprising dimensions—of the first meal of the day.  With 18 nominations, this is Saveur’s first Ellie in this category and fourth overall.

This category recognizes excellence of a regular, cohesive section of a magazine, either front- or back-of-book and composed of a variety of elements, both text and visual.  Finalists are selected based on the section’s voice, originality, and unified design and packaging.

Wired: Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief, for  Start section in September, October and December issues

Everything about Wired's “Start” section feels modern: sleek, space-age type, innovative graphics, clear, punchy writing and ahead-of-the-curve articles about technology today.  Readers will find that no subject is off-limits in this highly browseable, information-packed department.  This is Wired’s first Ellie for Magazine Section. 

This category recognizes excellence in reporting.  It honors the enterprise, exclusive reporting and intelligent analysis that a magazine exhibits in covering an event, a situation or a problem of contemporary interest and significance.

The New York Times Magazine: Gerald Marzorati, editor-in-chief, for Right at the Edge, by Dexter Filkins, September 7

For Right at the Edge, reporter Dexter Filkins, with photographer Lynsey Addario, traveled secretly into the tribal areas of Pakistan to try to answer a key question: in the struggle with the Taliban, whose side is Pakistan really on? His attempt to answer this combines gutsy,stubborn reporting that he shapes into a graceful narrative and finally a persuasive, multi-layered argument.  This is the magazine’s first National Magazine Award.

This category recognizes journalism that sheds new light on an issue of public importance and has the potential to affect national or local debate or policy.

Bicycling:  Loren Mooney, editor-in-chief, for Broken by David Darlington, January/February
Want to increase the odds of getting away with vehicular assault—or even manslaughter? Bypass pedestrians and other drivers and aim for a bicyclist. David Darlington combines unforgettable, intimate stories of crash victims with reporting on a serious blind spot in public safety and the legal system and explains what cycling activists—and what the rest of us—should be doing about it.  This is Bicycling’s second Ellie.

This category recognizes excellence in feature writing.  It honors the stylishness and originality with which the author treats his or her subject.

Esquire:  David Granger, editor-in-chief, for The Things That Carried Him, by Chris Jones, May

Taking us backward in time from the burial of Sgt. Joe Montgomery to the battlefield on which he fell, Esquire's “The Things That Carried Him” is a heart-rending, virtuoso account of the fate not just of one soldier but ultimately of all those who have lost their lives in Iraq.  Esquire has won a total of 22 Ellies including three for Feature Writing. 

This category recognizes excellence in profile writing.  It honors the vividness and perceptiveness with which the writer brings his or her subject to life.

Rolling Stone:  Jann Wenner, editor and publisher; Will Dana, managing editor, for The Lost Years and Last Days of David Foster Wallace, by David Lipsky, October 30

“The Lost Years and Last Days of David Foster Wallace” is a tenderly drawn and heart-breaking account of a brilliant writer’s private descent into depression and, ultimately, suicide. David Lipsky delicately recreates the personal struggles of a man teetering between fame and mental illness.  This is Rolling Stone’s 15th Ellie and the first in this category.

This category recognizes excellence in essay writing on topics ranging from the personal to the political.  Whatever the subject, emphasis should be placed on the author’s eloquence, perspective, fresh thinking and unique voice.

Backpacker:  Jonathan Dorn, editor-in-chief, for The Source of All Things, by Tracy Ross, February

Tracy Ross marches her father back to the physical and emotional wilderness—a place of beauty, love and pain—where he first began to molest her as a child. A tour de force of courage and insight, Ross’s essay reveals her ordeal with a clarity and compassion that is unsparing and cathartic.  In the last four years, Backpacker has received eight nominations and has won five.

This category recognizes excellence in short-form political, social, economic or humorous commentary.  It honors the eloquence, force of argument and succinctness with which the writer presents his or her views.

Automobile:  Jean Jennings, president and editor-in-chief, for three columns by Jamie Kitman, They Fought the Laws (of Supply and Demand), and the Laws Won, September; Lease Me to the Moon: The Rise and Fall of Consumer Finance?, November; Bailout Time for the Big Three. None Dare Call Them Republicans, December.

Jamie Kitman’s column for Automobile Magazine unflinchingly puts the screws to Detroit’s Big Three for their sputtering finances, bad decisions and stalled creativity – all from the exasperated perspective of a car enthusiast who expected much better.  This is Automobile’s first nomination as well as its first win.

This category recognizes excellence in criticism of art, books, movies, television, theater, music, dance, food, dining, fashion, products and the like.  It honors the knowledge, persuasiveness and original voice that the critic brings to his or her reviews.

The New Yorker:  David Remnick, editor, for three columns by James Wood, Say What?, April 7; The Homecoming, September 8; Wounder and Wounded, December 1

In his reviews and essays for The New Yorker, James Wood brings humanity to writing about literature, parsing the latest novels as well as world classics with passion, good humor, and all-too-rare precision. Wood’s writing shows an incredible level of erudition, trust in his readers’ intelligence and an eye for the art of writing.   The New Yorker has been nominated twelve times, with three Ellie wins in this category. 

This category recognizes excellence in magazine fiction writing.  It honors the quality of a publication’s literary selections.

The New Yorker:  David Remnick, editor Them Old Cowboy Songs, by Annie Proulx, May 5; The Noble Truths of Suffering, by Aleksandar Hemon, September 22.

In Aleksandar Hemon's short story "The Noble Truths of Suffering," a banal post-war Sarajevo forms the backdrop for a satire of cultural wandering, literary appropriation and an exile’s return.  Annie Proulx’s “Them Old Cowboy Songs” takes us to the Wyoming landscape where darker music is found in the simple dreams of cowboys and frontierswomen.  Nominated 195 times since the inception of the awards including 35 nods for Fiction, this is The New Yorker’s 50th Ellie, and twelfth for this category.

This category recognizes excellence in service journalism.  The advice or instruction presented should help readers improve the quality of their personal lives.

Esquire: David Granger, editor-in-chief, for Retool, Reboot, Rebuild, by Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen, May; and Seventy-Five, by Susan Casey, May

“Retool, Reboot, Rebuild" takes a standard form—the shape-up program—and goes unexpected places with it. Written by a surgeon and an internist, this "life-extending guide" is utterly fresh, not remotely a collection of the standard stuff. It is paired with "Seventy-Five," a profile of a remarkable man who represents just where this kind of approach can get a man.  Esquire has been nominated 89 times overall.  This is the magazine’s first Ellie for Personal Service.

This category recognizes excellent service journalism about leisure-time pursuits.  The practical advice or instruction presented should help readers enjoy hobbies or other recreational interests.

Esquire:  David Granger, editor-in-chief, for The Esquire Almanac of Steak, September

Often politically incorrect but totally delicious, steak moves most men.  “The Esquire Almanac of Steak” is a generous platter that’s full of beef—including where to get the best cuts, how to season and cook them, why a martini should go first and an evocative account of the art of being a butcher.  The package is so passionate and persuasive that even a vegetarian may be tempted.  This is the first win for Esquire in this category.

This category recognizes excellence in magazine design.  It honors the effectiveness of overall design, artwork, graphics and typography in enhancing a magazine’s unique mission and personality.

Wired: Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief; Scott Dadich, creative director; Wyatt Mitchell, design director, for February, June, November issues.

After 15 years, Wired has not rested on its laurels.  It broke new ground at its inception but now makes smarter use of its elements: its grid structure, its palette, its innovative information graphics and typography.  Every image is compelling and never repetitive.  Wired is the winner of this category for the second consecutive year.

This category recognizes excellence in magazine photography.  It honors the effectiveness of photography, photojournalism and photo illustration in enhancing a magazine’s unique mission and personality. 

GQ: Jim Nelson, editor-in-chief; Fred Woodward, design director; Jim Moore, creative director; Anton Ioukhnovets, art director; Dora Somosi, director of photography, for August, November, December issues

Photography at its best is the visual representation of the voice of the magazine. Each photograph in GQ is obviously the result of an intelligent and deliberate plan.  GQ captures the essence of a person, an idea and even a product within the broad range of celebrity portraiture, fashion, reportage, style and humor. This is GQ’s first Ellie for Photography.

This category recognizes the informative photographic documentation of an event or subject in real-time.

National Geographic:  Chris Johns, editor-in-chief; David Griffin, director of photography; Kurt F. Mutchler and Susan A. Smith, deputy directors, photography, for Who Murdered the Virunga Gorillas?  Photographs by Brent Stirton with text by Mark Jenkins

In “Who Murdered the Virunga Gorillas,” Brent Stirton documents the intricate connection between an ethnic war and a lesser-known tragedy with innocent victims. Stirton has the instincts of a news photographer and the narrative sense of a novelist, and his photographs are heartbreaking, infuriating and very important.  National Geographic has been nominated 71 times and has won 19 Ellies.  This is the magazine’s second consecutive win for Photojournalism.

This category honors creative photography and photo illustration (including portraiture and specially produced layouts).

The New Yorker:  David Remnick, editor; Elisabeth Biondi, visuals editor, for Service, portfolio by Platon, September 29

For this portfolio, Platon trained his lens on veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—and the people who love, support and mourn them. Seen separately, these photographs are both technically beautiful and journalistically precise. Viewed together, they constitute a profound statement about the commitment of America’s soldiers and the losses they bear. 

This category recognizes outstanding magazine websites, as well as online-only magazines that feature original content.  The site must convey a distinct editorial identity and create a unique magazine environment on the web.

Less than 1,000,000 average monthly unique visitors ( Jonathan Dorn, editor-in-chief; Anthony Cerretani, online editor

Few magazines embrace the potential of the web as aggressively and creatively as Simple navigation and intuitive design make it easy to find hikes with GPS waypoints, commentary, photos and maps; videos that inform and entertain; and exhaustive gear reviews written by expert outdoorsmen.

1,000,000 and above average monthly unique visitors ( Adam Moss, editor-in-chief; Kelly Maloni, director of P.D. & edit operations; Ben Williams, editorial director,

This site is everything a magazine website ought to be.  It seamlessly weaves blog posts, original video and interactive features, and readers enjoy the instant gratification of seeing their feedback appear on the site with just a click of the comment button.  With its unique, sometimes irreverent, always New York tone, has become an indispensable, stand-alone web treasure for New Yorkers everywhere.  Nominated 56 times, New York has won 16 awards.

This category recognizes an outstanding service feature on the web. The practical advice or instruction presented should help readers either improve the quality of their personal lives or enjoy recreational interests. The category honors a site’s creative use of multimedia technology, user involvement and community tools, and/or exceptional work in the blog form. – Maps Project ( Jonathan Dorn, editor-in-chief; Anthony Cerretani, online editor; Kris Wagner, Map Editor compellingly harnesses web 2.0 capabilities to give hikers of all levels smart, engaging and useful tools that combine online trail maps, GPS tools, magazine and reader trips, and mobile applications that extend the site’s reach beyond the web and right into its users’ backpacks.  This is Backpacker’s fifth Ellie.

This category recognizes an outstanding interactive section of the website, featuring news, entertainment and other subjects that do not offer practical instruction or advice. The category honors a site’s creative use of multimedia technology, user involvement and community tools, and/or exceptional work in the blog form.

AARP The Magazine Online – 1968: The Year That Rocked Our World   ( Steven Slon, editor-in-chief; Marilyn Milloy, features editor; Julie Feiner, online content producer

"1968 – The Year that Rocked Our World" immerses visitors in the sights, sounds and events of a transformational American moment. Using an innovative timeline format with embedded videos, audio clips, photographs, pop culture quizzes and contemporary interviews with some of the major names of the time, AARP creates a 360-degree experience of the news, sports, music, and history-making moments—public and private—of that watershed year. This is AARP’s first National Magazine Award.


About The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME)

The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) is a non-profit professional organization for editors of print and online magazines which are edited, published and distributed in the U.S.  Established in 1963, ASME currently has about 850 members nationwide.  Among other things, ASME works to preserve editorial independence and speaks out on public policy issues, particularly those pertaining to the First Amendment.