|'Time' magazine and its editor, Jim Kelly, were both big winners at the National Magazine Awards.
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Unlike previous years in which magazines like The New Yorker took home far more awards than any competitor, no publication won more than two prizes yesterday. Two awards each went to Time Inc.'s Time, Wenner Media's Rolling Stone, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Hearst Magazines' Esquire, Harper's Magazine, New York and, yes, The New Yorker from Conde Nast Publications.
But the sentimental favorite of the night was clearly Mr. Kelly, who is nearing the end of his tenure at the helm of Time and endured criticism last year for his role in turning over reporter Matt Cooper's notes to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
'Jim Kelly's Time'
When announcing that Time had won for general excellence, for example, outgoing ASME president and Newsweek editor (and therefore professional rival) Mark Whitaker described the winner as "Jim Kelly's Time."
In a speech during which he seemed to tear up, Mr. Kelly told the crowd that his magazine had often received accolades for covering disasters like Katrina and wrenching topics like Guantanamo Bay. "It always struck me as a little unseemly to celebrate," he said.
But celebrate he did, clutching the elephant sculpture called an Ellie that serves as trophy for the magazine awards. Mr. Kelly thanked seemingly everyone who contributed to the magazine's success, including its public relations team, Mr. Cooper and Eileen Naughton, who was president of the Time group until she was laid off during staff cuts at Time Inc. in December.
In a surprise victory, ESPN The Magazine beat The New Yorker, Vogue, Martha Stewart Living and Fortune for general excellence among titles with circulations between 1 million and 2 million. From the podium, editor in chief Gary Hoenig dedicated the win to promising but defunct magazines like Radar, Budget Living and others that died too soon.
ESPN's win also made it the Glamour of 2006. Last year Glamour took home the prize for general excellence among magazines with circulations of more than 2 million, the first time in many years that a women's service book had won such an award. It was nominated in the same category again this year but lost to Time.
In a break with the past, the awards were presented during an evening ceremony at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in Manhattan, and about 1,000 attendees who paid $465 per seat were told that the dress code this year would be black tie, a first. In previous years the awards, which are sponsored by the American Society of Magazine Editors in association with the Columbia University Graduate School, were presented during luncheons at the Waldorf-Astoria.
Adding to the new Oscars-esque ambiance, if such a thing can arise from a gathering of publishing executives, luminaries in attendance or presenting awards included actress Meg Ryan, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and director Francis Ford Coppola. Mr. Cooper, who introduced the reporting category, went out of his way to praise how magazine stories have the advantage of being crafted over time, allowing writers to gather a wealth of detail that makes a story really come alive, "at least, that's what I thought when I read this week's In Touch's update on Britney Spears."
The most spirited speech by far came from Rodale's Backpacker editor in chief Jonathan Dorn, who bounded on stage to accept the Ellie for best magazine section, embraced Mr. Whitaker and seemed to try to recreate the infamous Adrian Brody-Halle Berry kiss from the 2003 Academy Awards. (He claimed that he's been told that his profile resembles Mr. Brody's.)
While most honorees eschewed Oscar-style rambling speeches, Mr. Dorn relished his time on stage, arguing among other things that fellow Rodale employee David Zinczenko, editor in chief at Men's Health, has "probably got the best ass" at the company.
"I'm going to be working at Details by the time this night is done," Mr. Dorn told the crowd -- before continuing ahead at full power. "This was actually my speech from general excellence," he said, alluding to Backpacker's loss to New York Magazine in the 250,000-to-500,000 circulation category.
Impressive 'New York' showing
For its part, New York made the impressive showing that many had expected. Adam Moss, editor in chief, somehow came off as still the wunderkind he has been to the business for more than 10 years, including a term running The New York Times Magazine. Proving that he is an editor who knows his audience, Mr. Moss noted that since New York had never won before in the general excellence category, and might not again, that he wanted to acknowledge New York founder Clay Felker for "creating a marvelous and durable magazine" of which "I am lucky enough to be the current steward." Then he went on to thank his staff and added, "This means more to us than it probably should." In the design category, where New York scored its other win, it beat not only Nylon and Conde Nast's GQ but three magazines published by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
Just retired Harper's editor Lewis H. Lapham was another favorite of the evening, winning two awards, including for general excellence and reviews and criticism. When Esquire's David Granger took the stage to recieve his title's general excellence award, he turned his thank you into a tribute to Mr. Lapham, saying he wanted to acknowledge the people who taught him how to make great magazines.
Although the night was essentially free from controversy, Jann Wenner, The New Yorker's David Remnick and Mr. Lapham all took a moment during their turns at the podium to address the country's political administration. "Never in my lifetime have we seen a country in such danger, so misgoverned," Mr. Wenner said.
Mr. Remnick matched that sentiment as he accepted the Ellie for columns and commentary by Hendrick Hertzberg. "These past six years have been perhaps as miserable as any," he said. "But it's unfortunately been a boon for commentary."
The Cinderella story of the evening was The Virginia Quarterly Review, which won both for general excellence and for fiction. Editor Ted Genoways told the crowd of his first trip to New York City, to accept an award for best high-school magazine, during which he and his fellow high schoolers "crammed into Roger Angell's office at the New Yorker and visited Spy's offices in the Puck Building."
After the event, Meg Ryan lingered in the room reserved for winners and press, concluding, perhaps without knowing it, that the organizers had succeeded in elevating the Ellies' stature. "Every industry has its Oscars," she said.
The 2006 National Magazine Award winners:
Time, for General Excellence (over 2,000,000 circulation)
ESPN, The Magazine, for General Excellence (1,000,000 to 2,000,000 circulation)
Esquire, for General Excellence (500,000 to 1,000,000 circulation)
New York Magazine, for General Excellence (250,000 to 500,000 circulation)
Harper's Magazine, for General Excellence (100,000 to 250,000 circulation)
Virginia Quarterly Review, for General Excellence (under 100,000 circulation)
Self, for Personal Service
Golf, for Leisure Interests
Rolling Stone, for Reporting
The New Yorker, for Public Interest
The American Scholar, for Feature Writing
Esquire, for Profile Writing
Vanity Fair, for Essays
The New Yorker, for Columns and Commentary
Harper's Magazine, for Reviews and Criticism
Backpacker, for Magazine Section
Time, for Single-topic Issue
New York Magazine, for Design
W, for Photography
Rolling Stone, for Photo Portfolio/Photo Essay
Virginia Quarterly Review, for Fiction
National Geographic Online, for General Excellence Online