Yesterday brought news that Texas Monthly has been nominated for four National Magazine Awards. The NMAs, as they are known, are handed out by the American Society of Magazine Editors, and they’re like the Pulitzers or the Oscars of the magazine industry. Needless to say, we’re thrilled. And particularly because the nominations honor some of the truly great, serious, longform journalism that we published last year: not only did we receive a General Excellence nomination, but we were recognized in the categories of Reporting (“honors reporting excellence as exemplified by one article or a series of articles”), Feature Writing (“honors original, stylish storytelling”), and Public Interest (“honors magazine journalism that illuminates issues of public importance”). I couldn’t be more proud of this staff, truly among the most talented, dedicated, hard-working folks in the business.
Executive Editor Pamela Colloff scored two nominations this year, a feat few writers ever accomplish. She was recognized in Reporting for her masterful January 2012 story about the problems surrounding the conviction of Hannah Overton, a Corpus Christi woman sent to prison for murdering her foster child. (Overton, whose guilt has been seriously questioned, remains in prison; read Pam’s follow-up coverage here and here.) And Pam is also a finalist in Feature Writing for her epic two–part story about the Michael Morton case, “The Innocent Man.” As loyal readers know, the Morton story, serialized over our November and December issues, is the longest story Texas Monthly has ever published, clocking in at 28,000 words. For most writers, this would have been enough, but Pam—who so richly deserves her office nickname of “Teancious P”—didn’t stop. She has continued to cover the story for texasmonthly.com as it worked its way through a court of inquiry, in January, and a riveting murder trial that concluded last week (and which she’ll be writing about for the June issue of the magazine; stay tuned). All of her Morton coverage can be found here. And if you’d like to read “The Innocent Man” on your tablet, you can download a beautifully designed version here. (And if you really want to geek out on this piece, read Pam’s annotation of it for Harvard’s Nieman Storyboard project here.)
I mentioned above that few writers ever receive two nominations in a single year, but Pam is the third Texas Monthly staff writers to have accomplished this. In 1997 executive editor Skip Hollandsworth was nominated twice, and the year before executive editor Mimi Swartz was as well. Mimi won that year, in the Public Interest category, for a story about health insurance companies. And she’s back this year, with another Public Interest nomination for her tirelessly tough and honest examination of the status of women’s health issues in Texas in the aftermath of the 2011 legislative session, “Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Wives.” That story was on the cover last August, which is a pretty clear indication of how important we thought it was. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t our best selling issue of the year, but once I’d read Mimi’s powerful reporting, I never once hesitated to give it our top billing.
It’s no secret that these are tough times in the journalism business. As more and more magazines are forced to cut back on long, in-depth reporting (Pam spent at least six months on her Michael Morton story, an unheard-of amount of time for most reporters to dedicate to single story), it gives us great pride to be able to continue to do this sort of thing. There is truly nothing that can substitute for the insight and penetration that result from giving brilliant reporters like Pam and Mimi the time and space that it takes to delve deeply into subjects like this. And it is especially sweet to have their work recognized by our peers in the industry. Wish us luck at the May 2 awards presentation!