Despite Changes to National Magazine Awards, a Predictable List of Finalists

The American Society of Magazine Editors made big changes to the National Magazine Awards this year, but a list of finalists released Tuesday shows that some of the old system’s problems are continuing.
In the past, the awards had been criticized as favoring magazines that trade in “serious journalism” over women’s titles because grouping publications by circulation led to titles like The Atlantic and Cookie (which is now defunct) competing with each other. So last fall ASME revised several of its key awards categories to base them on content instead of circulation size.
But this system has led to its own curiosities. This year’s race for the award for General Excellence in News, Sports and Entertainment, for example, sees People pitted against the august New Yorker. (Has David Remnick finally met his match?)
Then there’s a General Excellence category called Finance, Technology and Lifestyle. Nominees for that award include Bloomberg Markets, a finance magazine for people who use Bloomberg’s terminals, but also men’s fashion/lifestyle monthly GQ.
And if women’s magazine editors were looking for some equivalence to come out of the changes, they might be disappointed. Across the six new general excellence categories, only one third of the titles nominated target women; the rest are men’s or dual-audience titles.
And in other ways, the nominations resemble any other year, with familiar titles dominating the list of 54 finalists. With nine nods, perennial favorite The New Yorker was the most nominated. Others receiving multiple nominations were New York and The New York Times Magazine, which pulled down six each, and National Geographic and The Atlantic, which tied with four.
The awards will be given at a sit-down dinner this year for the first time, replacing the theater presentation of recent years. Also at the gala, set for May 9 in New York City, author and journalist Tom Wolfe will be presented with a creative excellence award.