Winners of the 2010 Utne Independent Press Awards

By Staff
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(view press release and photos)

In its 21st year, the Utne Independent Press Awards remains an editorial competition like no other. There are no rules, no entry fees, and no tolerance for cronyism. We simply throw the 1,300 periodicals that circulate through our library on the table and–as a group of diverse, invested readers–choose those that challenge us, move us, and make us proud. The 72 titles that we’ve recognized as nominees do spectacular, extraordinary work; the 10 winners brought us peerless, vital coverage in 2009. We produced a short video to let people in on our selection process–check it out and then read all about the year’s best magazines.

The Winners

(view the nominees)



Orion has it all, artfully blending gorgeous personal narratives about nature with a cast of sharp, engaging columnists that push, provoke, and engage readers on a slew of topics ranging from energy use to enlightenment. Add in fresh environmental dispatches, stunning photo essays, and the unforgettable story of a former cop finding solace in the desert, and the year in this magazine’s pages was nothing less than a natural wonder.


Boston Review

Crack open Boston Review‘s generously sized newsprint pages and plunge into a world where poems sit alongside political essays, where fiction coexists with cultural criticism, and where–this is key–every element in the intellectual fiesta is thought-provoking and expertly crafted. When the 35-year-old bimonthly added more investigative reporting to its repertoire last year, we nearly swooned. Let mainstream publications give in to the perceived demand for bite-sized news; Boston Review provides the exquisite main course.


The Journal of Music

The Journal of Music stands well apart from the pack in the music press, both because it’s published in Ireland and because it covers such a wide range of music in its pages, from classical and folk to pop and jazz. In articles written by musicians but meant for all, this magazine brings to life the craftsmanship, artistry, and passion-stirring powers of music, favoring the durable over the trendy and the carefully crafted over the merely attention-getting.


Virginia Quarterly Review

The editors at Virginia Quarterly Review have an eye for artisan reportage–the kind of work done by a rare breed of journalist, photographer, or essayist. These are the people who can disappear into some corner of our dangerous and uncertain world–from the life of a Mexican drug mule trying to go straight to the surface of a thinning frozen river in the Himalayas–and emerge with a story so vivid it puts us there, too.


High Country News

The Western United States is home to most of the nation’s public lands, and High Country News covers this vast landscape like an experienced backcountry guide, pointing out the threats along with the wonders. Whether its writers are watchdogging resource-intensive industries like ranching, mining, drilling, and logging or writing about the life and culture of the West, they report deeply and thoughtfully, and their commentaries are carefully aimed rather than shot from the hip.



, the official magazine of the University of Portland, manages to function both as a typical university magazine–serving up campus and alumni news–and as an elegant and radiant literary exploration. Whether it’s publishing the musings of a police investigator, an essay on the meaning of America, or the memories of a Holocaust survivor, this quarterly collection of lovingly curated art and writing pulses with the deep faith of its writers, but is never overtaken by it.


The American Prospect

We repeatedly find ourselves turning to The American Prospect‘s incisive, trusted reportage to stay informed on the policy debates and the inner workings of Washington. The powerhouse of “liberal intelligence” doesn’t shy away from hard-hitting analysis no matter which party is in office, and it has continued to arm progressives with a solid foundation of ideas to fuel debate and jump-start political action.


Brain, Child

Brain, Child bills itself as “the magazine for thinking mothers,” so it’s no surprise that each issue is filled with thoughtful dispatches from the front lines of parenting–from debates over spanking and surnames to discussions of infidelity, postpartum plastic surgery, and four-letter words. What is surprising is that this quarterly finds new ways to make one reconsider what it means to be a parent in our society–or what it means to know one.


Spirituality & Health

In its joyful pursuit of well-being, Spirituality & Health

engages with all sacred traditions on equal terms, and then goes on to cull from the natural and social sciences, medicine, nutrition, and more. It’s a big-picture approach that invites everyone to the table. In 2009, we saw imaginative articles and essays–from “Rituals for Wastelands” to “At Lunch with a Terrorist”–and a seemingly inexhaustible stream of insight, information, and ideas from the buoyant bimonthly.


IEEE Spectrum

IEEE Spectrum is alive with the prospect of discovery, gleefully capturing the spirit of technological innovation along with its broader cultural ramifications. The monthly magazine for tech professionals covers the universe at large–from the specter of Mars exploration to a struggling power station in Palestine to a bold new nuclear waste strategy in Finland–and also zooms in on cutting-edge developments from inkless printing to digital grand pianos long before they hit the mainstream.

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.