NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Some years the National Magazine Awards amount to a heap of accolades for The New Yorker, while last year emerged as a five-win coronation for New York. The 2008 awards last night seemed to recognize a wider range, giving National Geographic the most wins with three.
Don't get us wrong: The New Yorker still triumphed. It rebounded from its unusual shutout last year by snapping up the general excellence prize for magazines with paid circulations between 1 million and 2 million.
"I kind of forgot what you're supposed to do," joked Editor in Chief David Remnick as he accepted the title's 47th award, more than any other magazine has collected.
Less familiar winners
But many of the winners were at least a little less familiar. Print magazine, a title about graphic design, won general excellence for magazines with circulations below 100,000. Mother Jones won general excellence for the next largest category. The Nation snared the public interest prize. Atlanta magazine, founded by the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce in 1961 and eventually bought by Emmis Communications, took the trophy for feature writing.
New Letters, which is published by the University of Missouri-Kansas City, won in the essays category. Virginia Quarterly Review, meanwhile, returned to the winner's circle for the best single-topic issue, about South America in the 21st century.
"This issue almost killed every single member of our staff, so this almost makes it worth it," said Ted Genoways, who co-edited the issue with Daniel Alarcón.
And Backpacker, sold last year by Rodale to Active Interest Media, won general excellence for circulations from 250,000 to 500,000. Jonathan Dorn, the editor in chief who gave a rambling if funny acceptance speech one year ago, stayed focused this time around and thanked both his magazine's former owner and its new one.
National Geographic's three awards came for general excellence among magazines with circulations over 2,000,000, photojournalism and reporting. "I'm stunned," said editor in chief Chris Johns. It now has 18 Ellies.
The awards, nicknamed Ellies for the Alexander Calder elephant sculptures that serve as trophies, were presented during a black-tie show in Manhattan last night by the American Society of Magazine Editors in association with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Industry names, nominees and presenters there included former New Yorker editor Tina Brown, Padma "Top Chef" Lakshmi, Mets legend (turned magazine founder) Lenny Dykstra, Obama Girl, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and longtime ASME Executive Director Marlene Kahan.
Virtually all the better-known winners came from one company, Conde Nast Publishing. There was The New Yorker, of course, but also GQ for general excellence in the 500,000 to 1 million circulation category; Vanity Fair for profile writing and photo portfolio; Wired for design; Gourmet for photography; and, in a blow to Gawker's crusade to bring down Portfolio editor in chief Joanne Lipman, Portfolio for magazine section.
Last year Adam Moss, editor in chief of New York, accepted so many awards on behalf of his magazine that, feeling self-conscious, he told the crowd, "You will never give us one of these again." He was wrong: New York won the leisure interests category for a feature mapping New York City's street food.
The 2008 National Magazine Award winners:
National Geographic for General Excellence (over 2,000,000 circulation)
The New Yorker for General Excellence (1,000,000 to 2,000,000 circulation) GQ for General Excellence (500,000 to 1,000,000 circulation)
Backpacker for General Excellence (250,000 to 500,000 circulation)
Mother Jones for General Excellence (100,000 to 250,000 circulation)
Print for General Excellence (under 100,000 circulation)
Popular Mechanics for Personal Service
New York for Leisure Interests
National Geographic for Reporting
The Nation for Public Interest
Atlanta for Feature Writing
Vanity Fair for Profile Writing
New Letters for Essays
Rolling Stone for Columns and Commentary
The Atlantic for Reviews and Criticism
Condé Nast Portfolio for Magazine Section
The Virginia Quarterly Review for Single-topic Issue
Wired for Design
Gourmet for Photography
National Geographic for Photojournalism
Vanity Fair for Photo Portfolio
Harper's Magazine for Fiction
RunnersWorld.com for General Excellence Online