Midday on Wednesday, May 2, hundreds of media heavyweights will trundle into the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria for the presentation of the American Society of Magazine Editors’ National Magazine Awards. After cocktails, lunch and a few speeches, a lucky few attendees will receive the coveted Ellie, an Alexander Calder-designed elephant statuette that entitles the winner to a year’s worth of bragging rights as one of the “hottest” editors or journalists in town.
But we here at The Observer decided to judge the hottest editors and writers by a different, more … literal standard. We went and posted the photographs of 23 National Magazine Award finalists in five top categories on the popular Web site HotorNot.com–asking thousands of teenagers, twentysomethings and probably more than a few bored media types online to pick the true winners of the magazine world’s annual beauty contest.
Fortheuninitiated,here’showHot-orNot.com works: Visitors to the site both post and view photographs of themselves or their friends, and then grade the looks of each person on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the “hottest.” When enough votes are tallied, the site assigns the photographed individual a number score based upon how he or she rated with respect to the scores of other people of the same sex. In other words, a man who scored a 5.5 is considered to be hotter than 50 percent of the men on the HotorNot.com site.
After posting the selected National Magazine Award nominees’ photographs and monitoring several days of intense voting, The Observer tallied the winners. It is a handsome bunch. In the General Excellence category for publications with circulations ranging from 400,000 to one million, the winner was Jane Pratt of her eponymous Jane magazine, whose mug clocked in at J. Lo-like 9.2. In the General Excellence category for magazines with circulations greater than one million, first place went to Health magazine’s Barbara Paulsen, with a health- y 7.4. The Design category featured what could fairly be described as an upset, as Entertainment Weekly ‘s Jim Seymore topped both Martha Stewart and W ‘s fashionable editor Patrick McCarthy for the top prize. In the Reporting category, Esquire ‘s fish-toting correspondent Sean Flynn took hottest honors, and in the Profiles category, William Langewiesche of The Atlantic Monthly set hearts ablaze with a robust 7.9.
Overall, a few trends emerged. The average rating of the nominees was 6.4–not exactly a bunch of Texas cheerleaders, but a respectable score nonetheless. As a group, editors were deemed hotter than writers, with a cumulative score of 6.5 versus the writers’ 6.2. Malcolm Gladwell was rated the hottest of The New Yorker ‘s nominees at 6.5, a half-point higher than his boss, David Remnick. Replacement editors performed well, too: New Men’s Journal editor Sid Evans, who replaced his departed predecessor and General Excellence nominee Mark Bryant, grabbed a crisp 9.0 rating, second-best overall. Teen People managing editor Barbara O’Dair was a solid 6.6.
* For reasons unknown to us, the HotorNot.com moderators chose to reject the photograph of New Yorker writer and Pulitzer winner Seymour Hersh. Possible reasons for rejection, the Web site noted, included “the photo appears to be that of a model or celebrity” or that the individual was “wearing lingerie, underwear.”