This year’s competition attracted 222 entries from 22 universities from the United States and Canada. Judges for the contest, which included 13 categories, were publishers, editors, and writers for consumer and specialized business magazines.
Start-Up Magazine Project—Team (6 entries)
Judges: Ray Paprocki, general manager of Dispatch Magazines; Tom McGrath, chief content and strategy officer at Metrocorp, publisher of Philadelphia and Boston magazines; and Michael Zivyak, president of the magazine division at Sonoma Media Investments, publisher of newspapers and magazines in the North Bay region of San Francisco
First Place: Pour, created by editor Brianna Crane and staff, University of North Carolina. Linda Brinson, Dana McCann and Terence Oliver, advisers
Judges’ Comments: Pour stands out not just because it hopes to capitalize on something popular — the still-growing craft beer and wine trends — but also because it understands how it will do that. There’s a clear understanding of the demographic the magazine is trying to reach (millennials), as well as a specific editorial approach — one that embraces a spirit of adventure and community and goes beyond just telling readers what to drink. The nicely designed proposal also contained a realistic business plan that we hope can help Pour come to life.
Second Place: Embark, created by editors Miranda Smith, Brooke Vaughan, Tatum Friedrich, Julia Quade and Abriana Green-McCant, and designers, Kylie Boyce, Margaret Cooper, Mary Hilleren, Aleksandra Kochurova and Abigail West. John Fennell, adviser
Judges’ Comments: We were impressed with the striking design, thorough research, attention to detail and recognition of a niche market. We encourage this team to embark on a launch.
Third Place: Become, created by Amy Hutson, Julia Terbrock, Madison Kelley, Madison Kelley, Katelyn Lunders, Jennifer Aldrich, Meredith McGrath, Allison Mann and Elizabeth Sawey, University of Missouri. John Fennell, adviser
Judges’ Comments: This women’s guide to self-care is a well-executed new publication. From the circulation strategy, competitive analysis, circulation plan, and advertising plan, the work done on this project was top-notch. The relatively straightforward prototype makes us excited to see what’s next.
New Magazine Ideas (12 entries)
Judges: Ray Paprocki, general manager of Dispatch Magazines; Tom McGrath, chief content and strategy officer at Metrocorp, publisher of Philadelphia and Boston magazines; and Michael Zivyak, president of the magazine division at Sonoma Media Investments, publisher of newspapers and magazines in the North Bay region of San Francisco, publisher of Austin Monthly. Award sponsored by City and Regional Magazine Association.
First Place: The Cast, created by Angela Ufheil, Drake University. Jeff Inman, adviser
Judges’ Comments: As podcasting explodes in popularity, isn’t it time for the medium to have its own consumer-facing magazine? The Cast promises to give podcast lovers everything they could want: recommendations for great stuff to listen to, behind-the-scenes looks at podcasting’s most important personalities, and advice on how to get into the podcasting world yourself. This thoroughly researched, well-written proposal presents a smart editorial strategy, a deep understanding of the potential audience, and a believable business plan. A first-rate idea and top-notch execution.
Second Place: Las Páginas del Belleza, created by Madison Ottenbacher, Drake University. Jeff Inman, adviser
Judges’ Comments: This magazine sees a hole in the market — and fills it with a publication idea that knows exactly who it’s targeting, what information its audience wants, and how it can be monetized. We were particularly impressed with the proposal’s SWOT analysis, which helped pinpoint the precise market spot Las Páginas del Belleza can occupy, as well as the ancillary products and services, which not only deliver on the mission of the magazine, but also provide another stream of revenue. A very smart and commercial idea for a magazine launch.
Third Place: Re, created by Jesse Webb, University of Mississippi. Samir Husni, adviser
Judges’ Comments: Although we would encourage a harder look at the target demographics, we were taken with the sheer creativity and originality of collecting work in the public domain to help bring context and insight into current events. And we loved the motto of “by the dead, for the living.”
Honorable Mention: MidWEst, created by Trae Green and Hannah Johnson, University of Kansas. Carol Holstead, adviser
Judges’ Comments: With its thoughtful design, impressively integrated photography and illustration, this Midwestern regional travel magazine targeting a younger demographic looked like it could already be on the newsstands. The magazine’s concept and business plan was well researched, and seems to nicely fill a void in the marketplace.
Articles—Places (18 entries)
Judge: Nathan Lump, editorial director of the Luxury and Lifestyle Group at Time Inc., and editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure
First Place: “Things We Love About Columbia,” by Vox Staff, University of Missouri. John Fennell and Heather Lamb, advisers
Judge’s Comments: Service journalism is an under-appreciated art, as is magazine packaging, and neither is easy to do well. “Things We Love About Columbia” adds variety and novelty to its exploration of the many ways Columbia adds up to a special place. No doubt even longtime residents would learn a thing or two, and for those without any or much knowledge of the city, the package serves as a detailed—and useful—introduction. A fine example of what magazines can do so well.
Second Place: “On Thin Ice,” by Molly Longman, Drake University. Jeff Inman, adviser
Judge’s Comments: A professionally constructed look at a place through the lens of an issue, and the real people involved in and affected by it. Nice reporting and writing—well done.
Third Place: “Fighting Oil With Water,” by Allison Trebacz, Drake University. Jeff Inman, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Takes a widely reported issue and a highly exposed place and brings it to life in a human, emotional way through some nice reporting and stylistic writing.
Overall Comments: Overall, some great work in here. I would caution entrants to think about the meaning of what it is to write and think about “place.” Some of these felt too much like other things—profiles, for instance—that didn’t necessarily connect enough to place for me. If I were to give advice for improvement, I would encourage everyone to think about structure as a way of adding interest and thrust to the pieces: breaking from chronology, weaving characters in and out, etc. And, of course, it’s important to have a good point to make, whether lighthearted or serious. To me, the best entries had something clear they wanted to accomplish and went about that using creativity and intelligence.
Articles—People (29 entries)
Judge: Richard B. Stolley, former senior editorial adviser at Time Inc. and founding editor of People
First Place: “Living on the Edge,” by Neville Hardman, Kent State University. Kevin Dilley, adviser
Judge’s Comments: A fascinating account of a way of life called “straight edge,” a term invented by the 1980s punk band, Minor Revolt. People who embrace straight edge follow a strict lifestyle involving no liquor, tobacco, drugs or casual sex. The story focuses on musician Rayne Blakeman and how her avoidance of potentially self-destructive behavior has given her happiness and contentment.
Second Place: “A Road Well Traveled,” by James Dale, University of North Texas. Adam Pitluk, adviser
Judge’s Comments: This is the personal account of an author who describes himself as an investigator first, then a writer. Gilbert King’s 2013 Pulitzer Prize winning “Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a new America,” is the story, both disturbing and inspirational, of the black civil rights champion who exposed the Groveland criminal scandal and became the first member of his race to be appointed to the Supreme Court.
Third Place: “A Home to Heal,” by Allison Underhill, Indiana University. Nancy Comiskey, adviser
Judge’s Comments: This is the touching ordeal of a young Chinese woman after she was brought to the U.S. with horrifying burn injuries. A small town in Indiana adopted Wu Shuang as she endured 40 surgeries. Now recovered, she is studying medicine, a turn in her life that would not have been possible except for the extraordinary kindness of the people of Batesville.
Honorable Mention: “A Veteran Rookie,” by Mitchell Fordé, University of Missouri. Jennifer Rowe and Heather Lamb, advisers
Judge’s Comments: This story tells how a Purple Heart veteran of Iraq has managed his difficult return to civilian life through the unlikely path of college football. Bret Robertson overcame his post-war struggles by becoming a record-breaking tackler for Westminster College.
Overall Comments: Compared to the past, the magazine writers this year have done a superlative job in persuading people to cooperate in stories that require them to talk about particularly difficult and embarrassing subjects: sex, obesity, business and artistic failures, family deaths, disfiguring injuries, etc. At a time when the term “fake news” is bedeviling journalism, these stories are anything but — blunt, sympathetic and true.
Articles—Investigation and Analysis (18 entries)
Judge: Andy Cush, senior writer at Spin
First Place: “Staring Down the Barrel,” by Vox staff, University of Missouri. Paige Williams and Heather Lamb, advisers
Judge’s Comments: A comprehensive, perceptive, and well-written look at the issue of guns in Missouri. I was impressed with the multitude of angles from which the Vox staff approached their subject and the rigor of their research and reporting. The section about a special class on gun safety and regulations for state lawmakers presented a truly novel look at gun legislation, no small feat for an area that already receives quite a lot of coverage. Excellent work overall. I would not blink if I’d seen this package in a professional publication.
Second Place: “Life Sentence,” by Ricki Harris, Northwestern University. David Abrahamson, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Ricki Harris found a compelling and sympathetic character in Brian Hurst to drive forward her story about the challenges faced by people seeking work after receiving criminal charges and/or convictions. Her writing is crisp and concise, and her research and interviews with experts support her argument without bogging down her narrative. Hers was the most readable piece in the contest.
Third Place: “What is PrEp,” Alex Furuya, Northwestern University. Patti Wolter, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Alex Furuya’s piece on PrEP is packed with research, providing a useful overview of a potentially revolutionary HIV drug and the challenges faced by those who are trying to get it to the people who need it most. Furuya deftly switches between writing about biology and sociology, explaining how PrEP works on a cellular level and why it isn’t yet meeting its full potential on a community level.
Honorable Mention: “Indigenous,” by Karen McCall, Ryerson University. Stephen Trumper, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Karen McCall’s piece on APTN, a Canadian broadcast network operated by and for indigenous people, is a nuanced portrait of a pioneering team of journalists. McCall’s colorful and empathetic coverage of APTN was enough to encourage this non-Canadian, non-indigenous judge to seek out its programming. I especially enjoyed this quote from Karyn Pugliese, APTN’s executive director of news and current affairs, about the network’s editorial mission: “Primarily, we are having a conversation among ourselves and inviting the rest of Canada to have a look.”
Overall Comments: It’s encouraging to see so many students who are dedicated to the old-fashioned craft of reporting, and I appreciated the group’s evident concern for telling the stories and addressing the challenges of societally marginalized people. Good work all around.
Articles—Service and Information (15 entries)
Judge: Susan Spencer, editor-in-chief of Woman’s Day
First Place: “10 Years and Counting” by Vox staff, University of Missouri. Heather Lamb and Jennifer Rowe, advisers
Second Place: “Sea of Dreams: New Zealand Tourism Supports Whale Conservation,” by Matthew Williams, University of Alabama. Kim Bissell, adviser
Third Place: “Sorority Boy,” Madison Rossi, Northwestern University. David Abrahamson, adviser
Honorable Mention: “Inhale Exhale,” Elizabeth Santoro, Northwestern University. David Abrahamson, adviser
Articles—Features (43 entries)
Judge: Mike Sager, writer-at-large for Esquire and author of Scary Monsters and Super Freaks and Revenge of the Donut Boys. In 2010 he won the American Society of Magazine Editors’ National Magazine award for profile writing for his story “The Man Who Never Was,” which appeared in Esquire.
First Place: “When I was 11, My Dad Killed My Mom,” by John-Michael Schneider, Ryerson University. Stephen Trumper, adviser
Judge’s Comments: The writer has a gift of a natural, compelling voice. This is one of the best pieces and most professionally polished pieces I’ve judged in this contest over the years.
Second Place: “Fighting Oil With Water,” by Allison Trebacz, Drake University. Jeff Inman, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Though perhaps in need of a strong edit to achieve a slightly more professional voice, this piece stands out for the reporter’s willingness to wade into the middle of a real-time news event (in a hardship location). The story is well researched.
Third Place: “Life’s a Pitch,” by Madeleine Buckley, Syracuse University. Melissa Chessher, adviser
Judge’s Comments: This writer is ready for a job somewhere. With a little editing to improve the narrative structure — a few more scenes interspersed—this piece shows promise as an early stage example of a literary journalist’s work. With that edit, this story could run on many of the top websites or alt weeklies. The tongue-in-cheek nature of the recreational pursuit in question, cornholing, makes this piece eminently clickable. Looking for bright and eyeball attracting subjects these days is important. More than ever, a writer has to fight for readers’ attention.
Honorable Mention: “The Podcast Evolution,” by Erica Ngao, Ryerson University. Stephen Trumper, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Another story that’s ready for prime time. Well-researched, good sense of context, good story idea in this market and others like it.
Overall Comments: Special kudos to the Ryerson program. As a group, the stories from your quarter are head and shoulders above most of the other entrants in terms of polish and professionalism. These students are all job-ready. Since the best students get the more picky criticism, I would add: Maybe take a look at your ledes and tops of stories in general? Many of them are way too dense. Readers need to be led into a piece gracefully. Shoveling them information in such large chunks makes it tough. Tease forth the info.
Articles—First Person (15 entries)
Judge: Jessica Hopper, music and culture critic whose work has appeared in GQ, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice and the Chicago Tribune. Her essays have appeared in Best Music Writing. Hopper was the longtime music consultant for This American Life. Her latest book, The First Collection of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic, was published last year.
First Place: “When I was 11, My Dad Killed My Mom,” by John-Michael Schneider, Ryerson University. Stephen Trumper, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Excellent exploration of the impact on journalism, fearless in its approach.
Second Place: “The Power of Pole,” by Cameron Evans, University of Missouri. Paige Williams, Heather Lamb and John Fennell, advisers
Third Place: “Call of the Owls,” by Keristen Lucero and Emily Berryman, Indiana University. Nancy Comisky, adviser
Honorable Mention: “The Privilege We Don’t Talk About,” by Merritt McLaughlin, Ball State University. Vanessa Ford, adviser
Specialized Business Press Article (2 entries)
Judge: Amy Fischbach, writer and field editor for Transmission and Distribution World, and president of the American Society of Business Press Editors, which sponsors the award
First Place: “Millennial Money,” by Haley Smith, Northwestern University. David Abrahamson, adviser
Judge’s Comments: This article includes both personal stories and research and data, which makes it suited for a trade publication. It is well written and researched, and it covers a very important and timely topic.
Second Place: “Quarter Life,” by Cydney Hayes, Northwestern University. David Abrahamson, adviser
Judge’s Comments: This story gives the reader a glimpse into life as a 20-year-old and all the decisions faced by college students as they face their future. It also has a strong headline and a variety of viewpoints.
Online Magazine (7 entries)
Judge: Ben Williams, editorial director, online, New York Magazine
First Place: Urban Plains, Drake University. Jeff Inman, adviser
Judge’s Comments: A well-chosen mix of stories that run the gamut from serious to entertaining to useful.
Second Place: The News House, Syracuse University. Jon Glass, adviser
Judge’s Comments: A good news-driven site that knows its audience well.
Third Place: Alpine Living VII, University of Alabama, Jonathan Norris, editor. Kim Bissell, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Beautiful photography, savvy design and tasteful use of audio and video.
Honorable Mention: Ball Bearings, Ball State University. Vanessa Ford, adviser
Judge’s Comments: A good example of packaging around a single theme, with an ambitious mix of stories.
Single Issue of an Ongoing Magazine—General Excellence (21 entries)
Judge: Stephanie Mehta, deputy editor of Vanity Fair
First Place: Drake, Drake University, Katie Bandurski, editor. Jeff Inman, adviser
Judge’s Comments: This entry is exceptional for many reasons—its design, its photography, its story selection and presentation. It is well-edited magazine in every sense of the word. The submitted entry clocks in at 62 pages (making it one of the smaller entries in this category) and the editorial team makes smart and judicious use of every page. From the beautifully photographed food pages to the well-written feature articles to the front-of-book dating “decision tree,” every element feels considered and deliberate. Even the captions and subheads are smart. I wish the feature articles had been given a little grander treatment, and the opening photo of the “On Thin Ice” story was exceptionally flat given how strong the other photography is—perhaps a photo illustration or conceptual illo might have been more engaging. But these are quibbles. This magazine hits on all cylinders.
Second Place: FM/AM: Fashion Magazine at Marist, Marist College. Melissa Halvorson, adviser
Judge’s Comments: As a fashion magazine, it might be easy for FM/AM to rest on its stunning photography and sophisticated styling, and indeed, FM/AM is by far the best-looking entry in the category. But like the best professional fashion titles, FM/AM also delivers compelling essays and interviews—John Varvatos was a great “get” and the conversation was nicely edited, for example. A few of the visual features veered into filler territory: the photo package on Chiang Mai started promisingly enough, but over the course of 12 pages it seemed to lose its way. And while I liked the idea behind El Futuro Es Mujer, the styling failed to surprise the way some of the other layouts did — an indication that the rest of the magazine has set a very high bar.
Third Place: Mayborn, University of North Texas. Adam Pitluk, adviser
Judge’s Comments: As a publication connected to a graduate program, Mayborn boasts a masthead that is far more seasoned than any of the other entries in this category. Indeed, many of its writers have considerable professional experience—and it shows in the maturity and sophistication of the stories and the quality of questions in the roundtable. And as a chronicle of journalism, it benefits from access to professional quality content as well, such as the excerpt from James Morris’s Pulitzer book and examples of Carol Guzy’s amazing prize-winning photos. Alas, Mayborn runs the risk of coming across as too serious. There’s a slightly academic quality to the tone throughout, and even the piece on Pulitzer-winning cartoonists—and irreverent group of there ever was one—felt more dutiful than crackling. This is a tremendously successful publication, one I’d love to see let its hair down just a bit.
Honorable Mention: Vox: Missouri Under the Gun, University of Missouri. Paige Williams and Heather Lamb, advisers
Judge’s Comments: Is this really a weekly magazine? While other entries in this category come out twice a year or quarterly, Vox churns out magazine journalism every seven days—a feat that should be applauded in this era of dwindling resources. And it’s good magazine journalism to boot. The submitted cover package, Missouri Under the Gun, is a solid mix of shoe-leather reporting in neighborhoods and hospitals and a really well-executed historical timeline that helps the reader understand the state’s history with guns. The miss for me was the fictional look at Missouri in 2020 should the state pass laws that enable concealed weapons on campus. If any story calls out for a collegian’s perspective, it is this one! Why not commission a first-person piece from a peer in Utah, where concealed carry is legal, or assemble informed members of the University of Missouri community for a roundtable debate? I can tell that the editors are striving to create a publication that feels professional—but once in a while it is okay, beneficial even, to embrace their status as students.
Single Issue of an Ongoing Magazine—Design (20 entries)
Judge: Roger Black, a longtime publication designer, is editor of a new magazine, TYPE, which is launching this fall. (http: typemag.org).
First Place: FM/AM: Fashion Magazine at Marist, Marist College. Melissa Halvorson, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Truly innovative. Nice cover (with a color mirror on the back cover). And at the start just plunges right into fashion, with good full-page pictures. Very impressive effort!
Second Place: Drake Magazine, Drake University. Jeff Inman, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Great elements, but could have been improved by taking a step back and looking at the magazine as a whole. Excellent cover. Great photo.
Third Place: Medley Magazine, Syracuse University. Harriet Brown, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Nicely put together, and pleasantly understated.
Honorable Mention: Mayborn, University of North Texas. Adam Pitluk, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Good logo and cover
Honorable Mention: A Magazine, Kent State University. Stephanie Lawrence, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Photography is really interesting, and the magazine has a good feeling.
Honorable Mention: The Local, Samford University. Michael Clay Carey, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Cover gets your attention. Great cover!
Honorable Mention: Jerk Magazine, Syracuse University. Melissa Chessher, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Fun cover image and fun logo. Love the slogan: “When they go low, Jerk goes high.”
Single Issue of an Ongoing Magazine—Editorial (16 entries)
Judge: Carole Nickson, editor-in-chief of Milwaukee Magazine
First Place: Drake, Drake University. Jeff Inman, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Great cover image with some solid cover lines. The FOB was very engaging, with some excellent trend spotting, and did a great job at pulling this reader in. There’s an over-arching wittiness in this publication. The photos illustrating the sex ed piece show remarkable creativity.
Second Place: Echo: The Fantasy Issue, Columbia College Chicago. Christopher Richert, adviser
Judge’s Comments: This magazine has a fresh look and a strong identity. I appreciate that it isn’t trying to be something it is not. The story selection is quirky and interesting, and the pacing works well. I commend the creativity that went into it.
Third Place: Mayborn, University of North Texas. Adam Pitluk, adviser
Judge’s Comments: This magazine achieves a slickness that others did not. The layout, photography, heds and deks are all above the norm. Also, they took one topic and found innumerable ways to slice and dice it, which helped hold this reader’s interest.
Honorable Mention: Jerk Magazine, Syracuse University. Jon Glass, adviser
Judge’s Comments: Similar to fanzines of yore, Jerk charmed this reader with its singular point of view. But it also surprised me with the variety of layout concepts and strong writing. Big kudos for these folks!