The National Magazine Awards Ceremony Makes a Return

After two years of handing out prizes remotely, grateful editors gathered to revive one of the biggest occasions on the magazine industry’s social calendar

On Tuesday evening, the American magazine industry gathered at Brooklyn Steel in East Williamsburg to announce the 2022 National Magazine Awards. The night’s big winner was The New York Times Magazine, which walked away with three Ellies, followed by The New Yorker and The Atlantic, which each received two. Despite receiving the most finalist nominations, New York magazine was shut out of the editing categories, though it won two photography awards. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was nominated in the lifestyle journalism category for an article for AARP The Magazine but lost to Eater, was nowhere to be seen.

For the winners, finalists, and other attendees, the awards ceremony was a chance to see the best and brightest in the magazine industry come together for the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic. ASME board member and former Popular Science editor-in-chief Joe Brown, who runs the newsletter one5c and presented awards to two publications he’d previously worked on, captured that sentiment. “I’m just so excited to see people in person that I feel like my enthusiasm got the better of me, but this is a fun night,” he told The Fine Print. “There’s just been so much incredible work over the past two years especially. We’re in a really, as a former colleague would say, news-rich environment, and that is punishing, so we gotta have a good time.”

Having claimed the night’s top prize, general excellence in the news, sports, and entertainment category, Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg was in full post-game mode, clutching a Calder elephant trophy near the stage when The Fine Print approached him. His magazine also won in the feature writing category for Jennifer Senior’s “Twenty Years Gone.” “We gave 110 percent. We came to play, we came to write, we really came to write, and there we are,” he said. “Winning beats a sharp stick in the eye.” Like Brown, he was ready to party. “The Atlantic is not the biggest party magazine in history, but we’re going to try,” he said. “Harriet Beecher Stowe — she wouldn’t drink. That was one of the problems. We’re definitely going to have an uncharacteristically raucous party.”

Others in the room were ready to get the party started earlier, perhaps even during the ceremony. “Maybe next year, we could have a little dancing at this event,” said Carina del Valle Schorske while accepting the award in the essays and criticism category for her New York Times Magazine story on dancing in New York at a moment when the pandemic was on the wane. “I feel like the National Book Awards shouldn’t have all the fun.” Her colleague Jamie Lauren Keiles, a contributing writer at the Times Magazine who won a NEXT award celebrating journalists under 30, felt lucky because they’d turned 30 on New Year’s. “I got in under the wire,” they told The Fine Print. “I am the oldest possible person you can be to win this award.”

Keiles’s boss, story editor Willy Staley who didn’t seem to get the memo on the “casual” part of the “smart casual” dress code, had nominated Keiles and stood next to them after the ceremony. “He drives me hard,” Keiles said. “He’s calling me at 11:59, ‘Where’s the draft?’” Staley played along, saying “Get me a rewrite, scumbag,” before adding, “very proud of Jamie, obviously.” His boss, in turn, Times Magazine editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein was vibrating with pride just behind them. “It feels wonderful, first of all, just to be in this room with all these magazine people after three years of doing all this remotely,” he said. “It feels great to win these awards and it was great to see these three different reporters, who are all very different kinds of reporters and who all are contributing to our understanding of the world at this very intense and perilous moment in really profound and deep ways.”

Silverstein’s former colleagues at Harper’s didn’t have such a lucky night. “I’m happy we got nominated,” said publisher Rick MacArthur, who wore his trademark rumpled suit and emitted an overpowering marine odor. “We got four nominations tonight. It’s a real morale boost for the staff and I think it’s good for them.” For editor Chris Beha, who’ll be coming back to the magazine from book leave next month, there’d been challenges from the start of the evening. He got stuck in a drink line on the second floor. “I don’t even want a drink, I just want water,” he said. And though ASME executive director Sid Holt had sent out a message to attendees the previous day encouraging them to wear masks, adherence to that advice among attendees was pretty uncommon. Beha was an exception. “What happened for me is I walked in with my mask on and I walked right up to Sid who did not have his mask on,” he said, “but I am masking while I’m on this line.”

After the ceremony, Holt explained the thinking behind his mask missive. “COVID is on the rise and we don’t want to create a super spreader event, so we just wanted people to be aware,” he told The Fine Print. “At the same time, we wanted people to have a good time, and, honestly, I think people had a good time.”

Among the most visibly ecstatic honorees was 5280’s Lindsey King, whose work for the Denver city magazine was a finalist in two categories and won for her service journalism package “Shattered Minds” about cannabis concentrates. She and editorial director Geoff Van Dyke flew out to New York for the ceremony. “I haven’t been out of Denver in two years so it works out quite well,” King told The Fine Print. “Geoff Van Dyke, the editorial director, has let me do really weird stuff and it has turned out okay most of the time.” The staff of 5280 planned to circulate the actual award among themselves. “We do it like the Stanley Cup. We bring it around the different houses. So I get to bring it home first,” King said. “We let everybody play with it a little.”

In a similarly celebratory mood was New Yorker editor David Remnick. Holt popped up at his side just as Remnick was telling The Fine Print how proud he was of the magazine and its writers. “I’m right behind you, so say nice things,” Holt said. “I owe it all to Sid Holt,” Remnick graciously replied, “my entire career.” He’d accepted two awards, one for Rachel Aviv’s profile of psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, the other for Luke Mogelson’s video from inside the January 6 capitol siege. While The New Yorker has dominated the profile form throughout its history, the video category win was a first for the magazine. “It’s wonderful to get something new for us,” Remnick said. Aviv accompanied him to the stage to accept the award for her piece, but Mogelson couldn’t be present. “He is, I think, in the basement of a church in Kyiv,” Remnick said during the speech, “which seems the safest place to stay for the moment.” Remnick later added that he’s hoping to celebrate with the writer after he comes back from Ukraine with a story.

After the ceremony, New Yorker head of communications Natalie Raabe set up on a doorstep about half a block away from Brooklyn Steel. One of the magazine’s two latest Ellies rested on the sidewalk next to her as she tethered her phone to her laptop and spun up an announcement about the night’s successes. Her release beat ASME’s official one to The Fine Print’s inbox by more than an hour. With that done, she headed off to celebrate over dinner with her colleagues.