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Culture Club: The Best of Social and Cultural Coverage

5/4/2011 5:05:26 PM

Tags: 2011 Utne Independent Press Awards, 2011 UIPA, UIPA, social/cultural coverage, arts, Bitch, Brain Child, Gastronomica, Good, Make/Shift, Mental_Floss, Oregon Humanities, This Magazine


Our library contains 1,300 publications—a feast of magazines, journals, alt-weeklies, newsletters, and zines—and every year, we honor the stars in our Utne Independent Press Awards. We’ll announce this year’s winners on Wednesday, May 18 at the MPA’s Independent Magazine Group conference in San Francisco. From now until then, we’ll post the nominees in all of the categories on our blogs. Below you’ll find the nominees for the best Social/Cultural Coverage, with a short introduction to each. These magazines are literally what Utne Reader is made of. Though we celebrate the alternative press every day and with each issue, once a year we praise those who have done an especially exceptional job.  

The only print magazine dedicated to feminist critiques of pop culture, the exuberant, indestructible Bitch enlists dauntless writers to carry out its mission by combining serious study and a healthy sense of humor. The Portland-based quarterly also showcases indie art, music, film, and literature. 


Brain, Child invites “thinking mothers” to share everything—the joys of parenting, the sorrows, the hiccups—in each exquisitely written, sharply edited issue. There’s no sugarcoating here, but neither is there complaining: just reflection and wisdom to spare.


Gastronomica is a magazine about food, but it brings much more to the table—from scholarship on cuisine-related culture, history, and literature to provocative visual imagery. Like the best kind of dinner partner, the magazine is sophisticated and charming, a skilled conversationalist, and always introduces us to something new on the menu.  


The editors at Good bring a fresh eye to a diverse range of weighty subjects—like the rebirth of New Orleans, the reinvention of our neighborhoods, and the renewal of a meaningful workplace—and wrap them all up in a snappy package. Serving a progressive community motivated to move the world forward, this magazine is beyond good.  


Make/shift’s tagline is “feminisms in motion,” and they whip through the pages of this biannual like an intellectual storm. Each issue hosts bold, one-of-a-kind arguments and creates a lively community of writers, artists, and activists who stretch the boundaries of gender politics.  


The editors at Mental_Floss amaze, astonish, and educate with the quirkiest of topics and attention-grabbing headlines to make The Onion envious. (Our favorites: “How Lasers Can Protect You from Pirates” and “Amish Baseball: The Greatest American Pastime”) Masters at the art of magazine making, the irreverent but ever intelligent editors always give us something to talk about.  


Striving to change lives and transform communities, Oregon Humanities gives us blissfully clear, thoughtful reportage on the things that make us human, including history (ancient and contemporary), literature and language, ethics and philosophy, and various cultural, religious, and folk traditions. No matter its subject, the insightful quarterly challenges us to reconsider the day’s most vital issues.  


Some of the things This Magazine was about in 2010: bamboo, Iraqi cartoonists, the Black Panthers, and pirate snobs. With those topics and cover stories ranging from Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan to voting reform, This Magazine finds a way to cover a vast swath of territory intelligently and accessibly.

See our complete list of 2011 nominees .   

Image by Nimbuzz, licensed under Creative Commons. 

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