After much deliberation, some back-issue rereading, and more than one impassioned speech, we're very pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 Utne Media Awards. With a loaded field of top-notch nominees, choosing the winners wasn't easy, but the following publications stood out to us this year.
General Excellence — YES! Magazine
YES! Magazine earned our recognition for General Excellence this year simply because every quarterly issue we read was chock-full of articles we couldn’t wait to reprint and share with our readers.
One of our main criteria for selecting the winner was how often we found ourselves trying to reprint stories from the magazine in question. When we considered YES!, we realized that not only did we try to find room for one of its articles in nearly every issue of Utne Reader last year, but that those articles were consistently among our favorites when we did a post-issue assessment. Some of these included a profile of Boulder, Colorado’s effort to kick out the corporate-controlled power utility and start its own wind/solar-based utility, a soldier-run coffee shop that helps veterans cope with PTSD, and various articles related to debt forgiveness.
It’s also worth recognizing that despite the precarious state of independent publishing these days, YES! has remained committed to its non-profit, ad-free, and Creative Commons-friendly ideals, and is dependent on subscriptions and donations for its survival. Thankfully, optimism and hope for a better future are still important to enough people to keep a magazine like YES! in print. Which, when you think about it, is really good news for us all.
Best Writing — The New Inquiry
The New Inquiry is the sort of website that makes the loss of print seem a lot less frightening. Founded during the darkest years of liberal arts cutbacks and publishing house closures, TNI pulls together a lost generation of students and writers to form a truly unique online community. With an irreverent, accessible style, the site’s engaging critical lens—covering everything from the anti-social mores of social media to student debt—is refreshing, challenging, and always unexpected.
Best Political Coverage — Tom Dispatch
Emerging in the early days of the War on Terror, Tom Dispatch’s fierce devotion to truth has proven essential to navigating our Orwellian post-9/11 planet. Combining some of the most insightful and courageous voices on the web, the site strikes at the very foundations of power and propaganda. As we face down a new decade of drone warfare, counterinsurgency, and climate chaos, Tom Dispatch’s forceful analysis and sharp investigative authority could scarcely be more vital.
Best Arts Coverage — Colossal
Visit Colossal and prepare to see the imaginative, the innovative, and the stunning. An abandoned nightclub turned art gallery by Parisian street artists, for instance. A tree-shadow chandelier, or composite photos of the moon during a solar eclipse. Colossal features a wide range of visual art, emphasizing the non-digital. While the site makes for enjoyable perusing, meticulous linking to original sources means it’s a great starting point for those wishing to delve deeper.
Best Social/Cultural Coverage — Guernica
For a web-only magazine with the simple tagline “a magazine of art & politics,” Guernica proved to be so much more to us last year. Covering a wide variety of topics with top-notch writing and unique insight, Guernica was another one of those sources that we kept trying to find an opportunity to share with our readers. Last year, it introduced us to ecopsychology and challenged us to rethink the virtues of a green economics and carbon offsets. Like The New Inquiry, Guernica makes us excited about the future of web journalism.
Best International Coverage — New Internationalist
From feminist activism in Iraq to restorative justice pilgrimages in Chile, 2012 saw New Internationalist’s mission to “bring to life the people, the ideas and the action in the fight for global justice” in full force. Authoritative, cogent, and always hopeful, NI adds badly needed context and stirring vision to our understanding of a complex and changing world.
Best Environmental Coverage — High Country News
If it weren’t for High Country News, we might never have heard about the effects of Twilight-inspired tourism on the Quileute tribe, about abandoned subdivision developments at the foot of the Grand Tetons, or the struggles of a California ski town facing warming temperatures and unpredictable snow falls. With riveting reports from people tapped in to the shouts of the wild, HCN sheds light on what’s happening in America beyond the edges of the daily, urban-focused news cycle.
Best Body/Spirit Coverage — Tricycle
Since its founding in 1991, Tricycle has become a beacon for Western Buddhists, attracting a variety of other spiritual seekers along the way. In the past year, the pages of Tricycle have considered serious topics from addiction to aging, challenged widely accepted notions of the historical Buddha, and recounted spiritual quests that have not led to Buddhism. This openness to difficulty and uncertainty suggests a living-out of the words the magazine puts to print.
Best Science/Technology Coverage — Scientific American
The oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the United States, Scientific American needs little introduction. But considering the “small press” tradition of these awards, some readers may wonder why they’re here. Simply stated, we love Scientific American for how well they boil down complicated science into lucid, accessible coverage. It’s also where we found an article about a bipartisan solution to cutting corruption out of the federal budget, one of our favorite stories from last year.