More EIC on Ending Rep of Women’s Mags as ‘Fluffy Bubbles of No Note’

For More magazine, a prominent partnership with the first lady is a grace note for the work it's been doing all along.

More magazine, it would seem, is having its political moment, between a July/August edition guest edited by First Lady Michelle Obama and an inaugural awards luncheon held at the Newseum Monday that was spun off from the issue. The MORE Impact Awards featured the first lady as keynote speaker, introduced by Robin Wright, portrayer of fictional first lady Claire Underwood on Netflix’s House of Cards.

“It was the most amazing moment of my life,” said More editor in chief Lesley Jane Seymour of the luncheon. “It was everything that an editor could imagine–a beautiful event. Mrs. Obama was warm and wonderful and eloquent and personal.”

And while having a sitting first lady guest edit your magazine and working with her to create an awards luncheon honoring extraordinary women were singular achievements, the bones of the thing were familiar to Seymour.

“We do this all the time,” says Seymour when asked about the process of sifting through nominations to choose awardees. “We’re used to finding women with stories that move you. The magazine is literally filled with inspiring women who do amazing things.”

Also not new is More focusing on political stories within its pages. “The world has for some reason realized women’s mags do serious things and have never given us credit for it. Women’s magazines have always been poo pooed as fluffy bubbles of no note. I’ve been doing serious coverage for seven years.”

It has been a realization at least two years in the making, when comments from British pub Port Magazine’s editor in chief about there being no female editors of “truly excellent magazines” spurred a series of articles and pieces examining or countering that point, beginning with this much-cited piece in The New Republic. Every few months a new article will come up, re-upping the fact that women’s magazines produce serious journalism, or an example of that serious journalism will make the rounds, as it has here with More, or recently with a Cosmopolitan piece that featured Maryland state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby.

Seymour thinks the increased visibility of women in politics will help sustain the visibility of politics in women’s mags. “There are women running for president and maybe that’s making the world realize what we’re doing for once. It’s everyone waking up and realizing we’ve been there all along.”

“It’s a wonderful thing,” she concludes, “to acknowledge women’s magazines are not afraid to dig in to the serious issues.”

The honorees at the awards luncheon were:

  • Lillian Collins, founder and executive director, Eastside Academy, Inc. (Clinton, Okla.)
  • Vivian Adhiambo Onano, women’s and girls’ advocate and youth leader (Rye, N.Y.)
  • Captain Ingrid Cook, pediatric nurse practitioner and pediatric nurse specialty leader, Navy Nurse Corps, Reserve Component (Baton Rouge, La.)
  • Lyn Berman, executive director and founder, Attitudes & Attire (Dallas)
  • Additional speakers included Peace Corps director Carrie Hessler-Radelet; and military family advocate Betty Easley.