The conditions were not ideal. This past year we worked from weird chairs with jerry-rigged lumbar support. We communicated (and miscommunicated) over Slack. Our cats planted themselves before our cameras during important Zoom meetings. For one particularly hopeless week in February, many of us lost power and water during a historic cold snap. At no point did it feel like we were having a “great year.” So this week, as award nominations and wins for Texas Monthly rolled in, we watched with pride and awe.
The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) announced Thursday that Texas Monthly has received five nominations in this year’s National Magazine Awards, including a nomination for General Excellence in the special interest category. The five nominations represent the most nods TM has gotten in a single year from the National Magazine Awards, which are also referred to as the Ellies and are among the most prestigious awards in magazine journalism in the country. Only three other publications—the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and the New York Times Magazine—received more nominations than TM in this year’s awards, with national investigative outlet ProPublica tying with TM at five nominations.
In addition to the General Excellence nomination, Texas Monthly was nominated in the Digital Storytelling category for “All 144 Willie Nelson Albums, Ranked,” a meticulous ode to the country king by David Courtney, Michael Hall, Rich Kienzle, Max Marshall, Joe Nick Patoski, John Spong, and Christian Wallace. In another Willie-related nomination, Texas Monthly’s 2020 special issue dedicated to him was recognized in the Single-Topic Issue category.
José R. Ralat was nominated in the Leisure Interests category for “The Year of the Taco,” a comprehensive and tantalizing guide that appeared on our December 2020 cover. Robert Draper was recognized in Feature Writing for “The Aftermath,” from the April 2020 issue, in which Draper obsessively chronicled the trauma and grief suffered by students who watched a classmate shoot their teacher in Austin forty years ago.
Texas Monthly has now received 83 Ellies nominations since the magazine’s inception in 1973 and has won a National Magazine Award fourteen times. Winners for this year’s awards will be announced at the ASME’s fifty-sixth annual awards show, held virtually on June 10.
The day before the Ellies nominations were announced, Texas Monthly won nine National City and Regional Magazine Awards (CRMAs), out of the nineteen finalist nominations it received across sixteen categories. The nine wins were the most for any publication at the CRMAs this year and included Excellence Online and General Excellence.
Texas Monthly also won the Herb Lipson Award for Column Excellence, for “Birds in Hand,” “Letters to No One,” and “A Consideration of Signs,” by Sterry Butcher, whose “talent for bringing human and nonhuman ecosystems to vibrant life” was noted by judges.
Michael Hall’s “Five Judges, Five Representatives, and the District Attorney Say She Was Wrongly Convicted,” described by the judges as “a gripping account that puts the entire legal system on trial,” took home the prize for the Reporting category.
Robert Draper’s “The Aftermath” received the Feature Story award, while Texas Monthly’s July 2020 issue won Excellence in Writing, with the judges praising the issue’s “aspirational storytelling unique to the Lone Star State.”
Over in the art department, Texas Monthly won the Feature Design award for “The Year of the Taco” and the Illustration and Graphics award for “Welcome to Battleground Texas,” “Twilight of the Bronze Age,” and “We Thought World War III Had Started.”
The magazine also took home the award for Multiplatform Storytelling for its acclaimed eight-part podcast and article series, “Tom Brown’s Body.”
The Ellies and the CRMAs are only the latest accolades Texas Monthly has received this year for its 2020 work. TM’s art department was recognized as a medal finalist in several categories for the Society of Publication Designers’ fifty-sixth annual awards, including in one of the organization’s most prestigious categories, Brand of the Year. TM was a finalist in four other categories, recognizing the feature design for “The Great Texas Fishing Safari,” in the May 2020 issue; the spread design for “Willie Nelson, Landlord,” in the Willie special issue; the online custom feature design for “The Ultimate Texas Tacopedia”; and the digital photo-illustration for “Tom Brown’s Body.” The Gold Medal and Silver Medal award winners for the competition will be announced in the coming weeks.
In addition, three TM projects from last year were named honorees in the twenty-fifth annual Webby Awards. Tom Brown’s Body was recognized in the Limited Series Podcasts: Crime & Justice category; “All 143 Willie Nelson Albums, Ranked” was recognized in the Features & Design: Best Individual Editorial Feature category; and Boomtown was recognized in the Limited Series Podcasts: Documentary category. About 13,500 projects were submitted to the contest, placing these three projects among the top 20 percent of the competition.
“I’m so proud of our journalists for the fine work they’ve done over the past year, and am pleased to see them recognized,” says editor in chief Dan Goodgame. “Our edit staffers have elevated both the quality and quantity of our storytelling, and attracted a growing audience across our website, print magazine, podcasts, videos, newsletters, books, and virtual events. We’re grateful to our owner for the investments that have helped us expand our ambitions and our staff, and to our business-side colleagues who are growing our paid audience and ad sales.”