General Excellence: Magazines

ColorLines

Content Tools

1.  ColorLines , the 2007 general excellence winner, bills itself as “the national newsmagazine on race and politics,” but its scope is vastly broader. From economics, education, and the environment to immigration, queer issues, fine arts, and pop culture, ColorLines examines the myriad ways race—and our ideas about race—intersect with everyday life. The 10-year-old publication entered 2007 with a fresh redesign and a new bimonthly format (formerly quarterly), and we couldn’t be happier to celebrate its success. Its editors and writers provide sharp critique and an essential perspective.

2. The rants & raves department,  a two-page spread in every magazine, provides a quick-hit analysis of the day’s top stories, “reading between the headlines” to expose issues of race, class, and culture that would have otherwise been ignored. Recent grabbers include a note about RBC Records’ plans to market racist rap music to white prisoners and an item about a Dallas public elementary school where “for years, it was an open secret that white parents could get their children into all-white classes.”

3. ColorLines doesn’t limit its coverage to the purely political; each issue contains diverse arts coverage and book reviews. The May-June 2007 issue features “The Rise of Krip-Hop,” a write-up on disabled rap artists by Beandrea Davis (whose piece on political poster art is reprinted on page 20). Other favorite articles include a piece about black and Latino musicians hoping to revamp the image of classical music, and a report on a new French-language Canadian sitcom centered around race relations.

4. Unforgettable   cover stories: The “Fiction Issue” (Nov.-Dec. 2006) makes the case that creative writers are political figures and that fiction, in the words of managing editor Daisy Hernández, “creates for us the story of what people actually experience.” “The Innovators” (Jan.-Feb. 2007) profiled fifteen trendsetters and tastemakers “moving big ideas in 2007.” In March-April 2007, readers discovered “What Your Doctor Won’t See . . . If conservatives make healthcare ‘colorblind.’” And in July-Aug. 2007, ColorLines gave top billing to “My Road Out of Iraq: A Latino soldier’s take on the racism of the occupation.”

5. ColorLines has delivered relentless coverage of New Orleans, doggedly following the Katrina beat and exploring new angles even as major news outlets predictably moved on to the next big story. The May-June 2007 cover story, “For Sale: What New Orleans’ housing crisis reveals about race in American cities,” by executive editor Tram Nguyen, examines black communities struggling to resettle New Orleans and calls for an “overdue debate on urban inequality.” The magazine also has a regular Gulf Coast Update, which reports on everything from the lack of aid given to Mississippi, which bore “the brunt of the storm damage,” to grassroots activists trying to reform the region’s substandard criminal justice system.