NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Backpacker, Esquire, The New Yorker and Wired led the winners at last night's National Magazine Awards with three wins each, including a Wired victory for general excellence in its circulation class and a Backpacker win for general excellence online.
While no individual title vastly outperformed its peers, Conde Nast outperformed other publishers with a night almost good enough to reclaim the week from Monday's shutdown at Conde Nast Portfolio. Conde took home seven awards after wins by The New Yorker, Wired and GQ. Its editors paid tribute to Si Newhouse Jr., chairman of Conde parent Advance Publications, starting with The New Yorker's David Remnick, who called Mr. Newhouse the Babe Ruth of publishing and alluded to Portfolio's failure. "Not every ball can go over the fence, but history remembers the ones who took the big swings," Mr. Remnick said.
Hearst had Esquire to thank for three trophies, and Active Interest Media can brag about the three earned by Backpacker. Time Inc., however, went home winless, despite six nominations.
Effects of the recession
The annual awards, presented by the American Society of Magazine Editors in association with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, showed the effects of the recession this year. Entries slid 10% from last year to 1,700; attendance at the presentation, at the Time Warner Center in New York, fell 25% to 650. Celebrity presenters included late-night host Jimmy Fallon, comedian Will Arnett, and writer and singer-songwriter Steve Earle -- but stars were notably fewer than in past years.
Although some print star power did come into play a bit in the form of magazine editors Tina Brown, Graydon Carter, Jann Wenner and Anna Wintour paying tribute to photographer Annie Leibovitz, whose iconic portraits have appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Vogue.
Backpacker Editor in Chief Jonathan Dorn alluded to the industry's troubles -- and job insecurity -- when he accepted the title's first prize of the night. "I think I've got some air cover now," he joked. After accepting the third Ellie -- so named for the Alexander Calder elephant sculptures that serve as trophies -- he said he thought he'd be allowed to spend some money on drinks to celebrate.
In addition to Wired, which won for general excellence among magazines with circulations between 500,000 and 1 million, the general excellence winners were Reader's Digest, for magazines with circulations higher than 2 million; Texas Monthly, for magazines with circulations between 250,000 and 500,000; Foreign Policy, for titles between 100,000 and 250,000 copies; and Print, for magazines smaller than 100,000 copies. Peggy Northrop, editor in chief of the revamped Reader's Digest, accepted her win with a shout out to her friends who told her she was crazy to take the job at such a well-worn title.
AARP The Magazine won an Ellie, its first, in the interactive-feature category. The other first-time winners were Automobile, Field & Stream and The New York Times Magazine.
New York magazine, a perennial Ellie magnet under Editor in Chief Adam Moss, did not go unrecognized this year. Its website won for general excellence online among sites with more than 1 million unique monthly visitors.
A full list of winners and finalists appears here.