INSIDE THE 2003 NATIONAL MAGAZINE AWARDS

A Waldorf-Astoria Ceremony Tinged With Triumph and Tragedy

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The only multiple winners at this year's National Magazine Awards were, as many would expect, The Atlantic Monthly and Conde Nast Publications' The New Yorker, each of which
Photo: Melanie Einzig
Winners at the Waldorf are (top), left to right: Robert Ivy, editor in chief, 'Architectural Record'; Janet Chan, editor in chief, 'Parenting'; and Cullen Murphy, managing editor, 'The Atlantic Monthly.'
(Bottom): Evan Smith, editor, 'Texas Monthly'; Moises Naim, editor and publisher, 'Foreign Policy'; and John Papanek, editor in chief, 'ESPN The Magazine.'

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netted two. Their hauls were smaller than last year, when they won three.

The winners for General Excellence, which is awarded in six categories based on the size of a magazine's circulation, were Foreign Policy, Architectural Record, Texas Monthly, The Atlantic Monthly (beating out The New Yorker and Hearst Magazines' Esquire, which drew a blank for its three nominations, as it did last year), ESPN The Magazine and, in one of the big surprises of the event, Time Inc.'s Parenting.

The awards are sponsored by the American Society of Magazine Editors.

Some surprises
Among the other surprises: William Langewiesche's exhaustive post Sept. 11 series "American Ground: Unbuilding The World Trade Center" in The Atlantic, considered a lock by some cognoscenti, lost out in Reporting to the New Yorker's Jeffrey Goldberg's series on Middle East radical group Hezbollah. And columnist Katha Pollitt for The Nation won an "Ellie" -- the elephant-shaped statuette awarded to winning magazines -- in columns and commentary. Left in the lurch in that category and elsewhere was essayist Christopher Hitchens, whose work in Vanity Fair and The Atlantic was nominated for a total three Ellies but won none. GQ and Newsweek each received four nominations but went home empty-handed.

The event was shadowed by the death of Michael Kelly, the former editor of The Atlantic, who died in early April while reporting in Iraq. The event held a moment of silence for Mr. Kelly, and references to him during winners' speeches were frequent. Among them was one offered by New Yorker editor David Remnick, who said the event, and life in general, would be richer and more fun "if Kelly were still with us."

'National Geographic'
Still, a lighter tone peeked through. In accepting the Leisure Interests Ellie, National Geographic Adventure editor in chief John Rasmus quoted liberally from a decidedly contentious e-mail exchange between writer Tim Cahill and his editor. Among other tart comments, Mr. Cahill noted at one point "Oh, I get it. Don't make the editor look like a fool. Make the writer look like a fool," to which his editor eventually struck back by wondering if Mr. Cahill's "big [expletive] mouth" would be so bold "were you not 2,000 miles removed." (This marked the third year in a row Adventure took home an Ellie.)

Nervous editors
Several victorious editors claimed they had no prepared speeches; Janet Chan, editor in chief of Parenting, said she feared she would thank the halibut on the menu card she held in her visibly shaking hand on which she scribbled comments. John Papanek, ESPN The Magazine's editor in chief, was provided with three separate sentences by two of his staffers in the event of victory. He chose to read "We owe it all to Mad Magazine" rather than the bar mitzvah-esque "Today I am a man!"

Editors who earlier had groused to Advertising Age that the National Magazine Awards slighted female-aimed titles most likely will note that of the winners, only Parenting, Conde Nast Traveler and Vanity Fair won against more male-oriented titles. Mark Whitaker, editor of Newsweek and vice president of ASME, pointed to Parenting's General Excellence Ellie. Lewis Lapham, the longtime editor of Harper's, pointed to several women's titles that were nominated, saying that since few publish short stories or lengthy features, they received little notice in those categories.

Mourning a colleague
At one of the Atlantic Monthly tables, Mr. Kelly's widow, Madelyn, sat beside David Bradley, who owns the magazine. Immediately after the event, managing editor Cullen Murphy told a reporter that while he was proud of the outcome, "I just wish Mike could be here."

Nearby and just out of earshot sat a subdued Ms. Kelly, a single Ellie statuette in front of her.

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