The Utne Independent Press Awards rely heavily on two of the staff's favorite activities: reading and talking. We began in July and ended up reading and talking our way into late October.
We're often asked what the criteria are for nominations. While we don't have a set of requirements etched in stone, we do have two general guidelines.
First, we consider each publication in terms of one year of its life in the Utne Reader library. We think of stories we've liked, reprinted, or taken home to share.
Second, we nominate independently published periodicals. This excludes the publications of large media conglomerates.
In July, the staff settled on 15 categories and went to work compiling massive lists of publications to consider in each area. Each category was assigned to a staff member who then spent about four weeks in deep reading mode with the suggested titles.
The staff finally emerged from hibernation to prepare lists of 12 candidates for nomination in each category, and we all sat down together to present our choices. Over the next several weeks, we read each other's short-listed publications. Finally, we all came together for a series of long, spirited meetings to whittle each list down to eight nominees.
Armed with our lists of rock-solid nominees, we read again before holing up for drawn-out discussions, weighing the merits of every nominee and advocating passionately for our personal favorites. After each meeting, winners were democratically elected via e-mail ballot.
Hear editor in chief David Schimke discuss the winners on our podcast, the UtneCast, available December 28 at www.utne.com