What the media industry lacks in earning potential it makes up for in self-congratulation. A killer scoop might not make you rich, but it will put you in front of the judges of the National Magazine Awards, the Pulitzer nominating committee, and whoever’s curating Longreads these days. And if your Roger Ebert profile doesn’t win the Ellie for feature writing this year, well, that’s just fuel for the chase of the next perfect profile subject, the one that will render your byline immortal.
But what about the writers, reporters and editors who take on the thankless task of feeding our national addiction to celebrity news? US Weekly, Star, Life & Style, OK, People.
One hour and sixteen minutes after wrapping NBC Nightly News Thursday night, Brian Williams relieved People managing editor Larry Hackett of hosting the National Magazine Awards.
After a few quick digs at the Marriott Marquis’ poured-concrete architecture, he asked the editors and publishers gathered for “a real favor.”
When he announced the winners, he wondered, could we sustain our applause long enough that he doesn’t have to do the winner’s photo op in total silence? No matter how huge the upset?
“So when we announce fiction,” he said, “if Aviation, Wing & Space wins and everyone’s staring at Remnick like, ‘Oh my God, what’s this going to mean?’—if, like, Cat Fancy wins for commentary—be happy for them. Keep it going. Cover me on the photo op, I will be grateful.”
The American Society of Magazine Editors named New York‘s Demi Moore-referencing, pregnant after 50 photoillustration the best cover of the year. It’s certainly burned into our skull.
If they were giving out prizes for best ledes, the same issue of New York would be our top pick as well. Remember?