Winners of the 2003 Utne Independent Press Awards

The 15th annual roster of the best, liveliest, wisest, most significant periodicals we've seen in the last year

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UPDATE: Visit the nominees and winners of the 2009 Utne Independent Press Awards.

Of the thousands of publications we read during the past year, those honored below excite us the most, expressing essential and quintessential thoughts not generally found in the major media. Some of the winners here are perennial favorites, some are new finds, but all are driven by a passion for putting new ideas and important stories out in the world.

General Excellence, Magazines
The American Prospect
If ever there was a year for a liberal magazine with a sharp focus on electoral politics to shine, it's this year. And this smart Washington, DC-based monthly is the magazine. $19.95/yr. (11 issues) from Box 601, Mt. Morris, IL 61504;

General Excellence, Newsletters
Connection to the Americas
From indigenous uprisings to the war on drugs to the impact of corporate globalization, this bimonthly newsletter, published by the Minneapolis-based Resource Center of the Americas, provides essential summaries of the most critical issues facing Latin America. $40 ($50 in Canada)/yr. (6 issues) from Resource Center of the Americas, 3019 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55406;

General Excellence, Zines
Androo Robinson fills this delightful zine with whimsical single-panel "picture fictions" that play with the imagination, illustrating everyday fairy tales that just may have actually happened. $1/sample copy from 2000 NE 42nd Ave., #303, Portland, OR 97213.

Best New Title
Kitchen Sink
Published by the San Francisco-based nonprofit Neighbor Lady Community Arts Project, this well-designed quarterly features piquant essays on arts and culture "for people who think too much." $25/yr. (4 issues) from 5245 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618;

Arts/Literary Coverage
Art Papers
Smart and well-written, Art Papers covers what's exciting in local arts scenes around the country -- everything from the latest exhibitions to backyard sculpture and performance art -- with a minimum of artspeak and a maximum of clarity. $35/yr. (6 issues) from 1083 Austin Ave. NE, Ste. 206, Atlanta, GA 30307;

Best Essays
This engaging international literary journal marked its 25th anniversary in 2003, publishing lively work from the likes of Michael Ondaatje, Adrienne Rich, and Annie Proulx. $41/2 yrs. (4 issues), $38 in Canada, from Box 537, Station Q, Toronto, ON M4T 2M5, Canada;

Cultural/Social Coverage
The Onion 
America's funniest newspaper is also one of its sharpest critical voices. Read The Onion for a good laugh and at the same time get real insight into many of the issues, large and small, facing us today. $49.95/yr. (49 issues) from 544 East Ogden Ave., #700-388, Milwaukee, WI 53202;

DIY never looked so cool. Straightforward graphics and page design with just enough retro-industrial swank to inspire even the most die-hard slacker to pick up a glue gun. Make yourself a magazine rack because every issue's a keeper. $14/yr. (4 issues) from 2706 Eighth St., Berkeley, CA 94710;

International Coverage
NACLA Report on the Americas
The bimonthly report of the North American Congress on Latin America is required reading for all who want a really in-depth analysis of north-south political relations in our hemisphere. $36/yr. (6 issues) from Box 77, Hopewell, PA 16650;

Local/Regional Coverage
The Brooklyn Rail
Full of local news that touches on universal themes, the Rail keeps Brooklyn-ites abreast of the stuff that really matters -- from neighborhood happenings to the role of the arts in the city. $20/yr. (4 issues) from 43 Withers Street, #3, Brooklyn, NY 11211; 718/707-1146;

Personal Life Coverage
The do-it-yourself bible for the young and moneyless who nevertheless want to live in style, ReadyMade is both a hip interior-design guide and a witty version of a how-to-build-it hobby mag. $14/yr. (4 issues) from 2706 Eighth St., Berkeley, CA 94710;

Political Coverage
The Nation
This lively weekly jumped right into the post-9/11 debate to provide a much-needed progressive perspective on a suddenly-transformed world. It's kept up the good work ever since, thanks to some of the keenest reporters and savviest columnists in the business. $39.97/yr. (47 issues) from Box 55149, Boulder, CO 80322-5149; 800/333-8536;

Science and Environmental Coverage
Mother Jones
With stellar articles on water issues, refugees fleeing global warming, pollution of all varieties, and the secret sins of the Bush administration, MoJo shows that a general interest magazine can still offer thorough coverage of crucial subjects. $24/yr. (6 issues) from Box 334, Mt. Morris, IL 61054; 800/438-6656;

Spiritual Coverage
Living up to its tagline, "yoga for an inspired life," this fresh Montreal-based quarterly looks at spirituality through the lens of social action. $15.95/yr. (4 issues) from 334 Cornelia St., #519, Plattsburgh, NY 12901;

Online Political Coverage
Grist Magazine
With a rich mix of hard-hitting eco-political coverage, practical tips, hopeful tales, and rib-tickling whimsy, Grist fulfills its tongue-in-cheek mission statement: "doom and gloom with a sense of humor."

Online Cultural Coverage
Smart Mobs
Techno-visionary Howard Rheingold and his co-conspirators chronicle the daily evolution of wireless technologies and their impacts on culture, politics, economics and personal relationships.

Reader's Choice Poll Winners

General Excellence, Magazines: Mother Jones
General Excellence, Newsletters: Counterpunch
General Excellence, Zines: The East Village Inky
Best New Title: Ode
Best Essays: The Sun
Arts/Literary Coverage: Poets & Writers
Cultural/Social Coverage: The Onion
Design: Bust
International Coverage: The Ecologist
Local/Regional Coverage: The Stranger (Seattle)
Personal Life Coverage: Brain, Child
Political Coverage: The Nation
Science and Environmental Coverage: EarthFirst Journal
Spiritual Coverage: Shambhala Sun
Online Political Coverage: Alternet
Online Cultural Coverage: Nth Position