ASME President Vows Changes to Mag Awards, Ceremony

'That just can't happen again'

This year, the American Society of Magazine Editors overhauled its biggest awards and annual gala, with mixed success. The National Magazine Awards drew a bigger crowd than it had in recent years, but the sit-down dinner, held May 9 at 583 Park Avenue, ran over an hour long, forcing those who didn't escape early to be stuck in their seats until 11:30 p.m. “It may still be going on as far as I know,” cracked Larry Hackett, the managing editor of People and the newly elected president of ASME.

Hackett acknowledged the flub to his fellow editors, who had gathered June 7 at Remi, an Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan, for ASME’s annual meeting and elections. Not to worry: as one of his first acts of his new term as president, Hackett said he was already working on finding a new venue and setup for next year. “We’re confident it will end at least a week after it begins,” he said. Joking, of course.

The changes to the awards themselves—known as Ellies for the elephant-shaped statuette given to winners—also caused some kvetching. ASME had revised its big general excellence categories to base them on subject matter rather than circulation size to avoid having discordant titles competing with each other. That system had its issues, too; the General Excellence category for Finance, Technology, and Lifestyle saw Bloomberg Markets going up against GQ, while General Excellence for News, Sports, and Entertainment Magazines had Fast Company and People among its finalists.

Hackett said he expected ASME to stick with the subject matter approach, but that he expects the organization will “tinker” with some of the groupings, particularly in the categories for men’s and women’s magazines.

“I think in some of the categories there could be a sense of, 'Which of these are not like the others?'" he said. “We want to take a look and see if we might sharpen it a bit.”

As for the timing of the event itself, he was more definitive: “That just can’t happen again,” he said. No kidding this time.

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