The 1996 UIPA Winners

Utne Reader’s 8th annual alternative press awards

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UPDATE: Visit the winners of the 2010 Utne Independent Press Awards.

For 8 years Utne Reader has recognized excellence in alternative and independent magazine publishing through its Alternative Press Awards. The Awards are a distinction made by our staff to celebrate the seldom recognized efforts of the alternative press, and as a service to our readers who want to know about alternatives to mass media magazine publishing. These awards honor individual publications that especially impressed our editorial staff during the previous year.

The awards are not the result of a competition; they emerge from the extensive reading our staff does as part of the process of producing Utne Reader. Our editors read many hundreds of alternative and independent titles looking for articles and ideas that are interesting, timely, well-written, and thought-provoking.

GENERAL EXCELLENCE (Circulation over 50,000)
Mother Jones
Editor in Chief: Jeffrey Klein
Currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, this hard-hitting bimonthly continues to be one of the most influential forces in the alternative press. Klein attributes the magazine’s success to the passion of the editorial team, which, he says, hasn’t succumbed to the “cynicism masquerading as professionalism” that dominates current journalism.

GENERAL EXCELLENCE (Circulation 10,000 - 50,000)
Index on CensorshipEditor: Ursula Owen
This important British digest takes us around the world to examine the never-ending attacks on freedom of the press. The magazine is an intriguing blend of essays, photographs, and infographics, all of which remind us that freedom and freedom of the press are inextricably linked.

GENERAL EXCELLENCE (Circulation under 10,000)
Grand StreetEditor: Jean Stein
Influenced by the zine revolution, this avant-garde literary journal integrates concern about contemporary political issues with a keen desire to push art forward. Each issue of Grand Street explores a different theme and gives us a feel of how life really is: beautiful, frightening, and sometimes very strange.

ART AND DESIGN EXCELLENCE
see: A journal of visual cultureEditor in Chief: Andy Grundberg
Design: Toki Design
This high-quality journal uses its own highly protean layout as a testing ground to explore the ways images shape our visually embattled lives. When it works, as it usually does, the effect is astounding and quite beautiful.

CULTURAL ISSUES
Border / Lines: Canada's magazine of cultural studiesManaging Editor: Julie Jenkinson
Despite its brooding, self-conscious design, this Canadian cultural studies magazine examines unlikely aspects of our mass culture (the morphing craze, or closed captions on TV) with humor, intelligence, and an eye for sassy scholarship—nicely bridging the gap between academic and popular magazines.

EMERGING ISSUES
New ScientistEditor: Alun Anderson
Whether it’s covering particle physics, linguistics, or squirrel behavior, this weekly British science magazine offers great coverage of up-to-the-minute scientific discoveries. The magazine’s writing empowers the lay reader and makes us feel that science is understandable and an important part of our lives. 

FEATURE WRITING
Michigan Quarterly ReviewEditor: Laurence Goldstein
The editorial vision of this University of Michigan literary journal fuses scholarship with quality writing to explore its subjects in a lovingly exhaustive manner—whether it’s a double issue on the cinema—or simply author Ariel Dorfman’s ideas on language and translation. The result: a profound sense of what really matters in contemporary culture. 

INTERNATIONAL REPORTING
Third World ResurgencePublisher and Chief Editor: S.M. Mohamed Idris
With fascinating articles on topics ranging from the threat of biopiracy to the impact of Barbie dolls on children in impoverished countries, this information-packed monthly published by the Third World Network in Penang, Malaysia, sheds light on important issues from the too-often-ignored perspective of the Southern Hemisphere. 

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING
Mother JonesEditor in Chief: Jeffrey Klein
Currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, this hard-hitting bimonthly continues to be one of the most influential forces in the alternative press. Klein attributes the magazine’s success to the passion of the editorial team, which, he says, hasn’t succumbed to the “cynicism masquerading as professionalism” that dominates current journalism.

BEST NEW TITLE
Double TakeEditors: Robert Coles and Alex Harris
Design and Production: Molly Renda
This quarterly magazine was born all grown up. DoubleTake confidently combines great writing on important subject matter with compelling photo essays that tell their own stories. From its first issue—which included a wonderful essay by Bill McKibben on Kerala, India (reprinted in Utne Reader #74)—Coles and Harris have brought to life new worlds we might not have imagined otherwise.

SPECIAL INTEREST
Mouth: The Voice of Disability RightsEditor: Lucy Gwin
Taking no prisoners in its fight for civil rights, Mouth vehemently (and humorously) distinguishes between advocacy (which its editors consider suspect at best) and real activism—which, they insist, is the only way that “crips” can change the largely indifferent national health care system.

SERVICE
Prison Life
Editor and Publisher: Richard Stratton
This in-your-face magazine provides an important service to readers both in and out of prison. Not only does it provide a realistic picture of a much-mythologized world, it also includes everything from recipes for in-cell cooking to exposés of human rights violations in the nation’s prison system. With the rapid growth of prison populations today, maintaining perspective on the human issues involved is critical, and Prison Life does just that—with courage and integrity.