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Announcing the formation of ASME to the Magazine Publishers Association at its conference in September 1963, Ted Patrick, the editor of Holiday and the first president of ASME, said: “In our estimation, the editorial freedom of magazines should be protected more vigorously than ever before, and perhaps this new society can be a genuine factor in such protection. At least we hope to give it a try.” Patrick also noted that ASME would, at its first meeting, “discuss again the much-discussed business of magazine awards.” The National Magazine Awards were established soon after by ASME working with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The first award was presented to Look in 1966 "for its skillful editing, imagination and editorial integrity, all of which were reflected particularly in its treatment of the racial issue during 1965." The first award for digital content—the category was called General Excellence in New Media—was won by Money in 1997.
Intended to advance the practice of journalism and promote the value of magazines and websites to readers and advertisers, the National Magazine Awards honor print and digital publications that consistently demonstrate superior execution of editorial objectives, innovative techniques, noteworthy enterprise and imaginative design. Originally limited to print magazines, the awards now recognize magazine journalism published in any medium. The National Magazine Awards are sponsored by the American Society of Magazine Editors in association with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and are administered by ASME. Awards are currently presented in 17 categories. The winner in each category receives an “Ellie,” modeled on the symbol of the awards, Alexander Calderʼs stabile “Elephant Walking.” The ASME Award for Fiction, the ASME Awards for Design, Photography and Illustration and the ASME NEXT Awards for Journalists Under 30 are presented in conjunction with the National Magazine Awards.
National Magazine Awards entry fees and ticket sales provide support for the Osborn Elliott Scholarship at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Named in honor of the former editor in chief of “Newsweek,” who also served as president of ASME and dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, the scholarship is awarded to students who intend to pursue careers in magazine journalism.
JELANI COBB | Dean and Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism