Playing it safe: 2012 National Magazine Awards focus on broad appeal

Don’t write that obituary for newsweeklies just yet.

When they handed out the National Magazine Awards in New York on Thursday (because who wants to waste a perfectly good Friday), TIME* took home the prize for Magazine of the Year, beating out ESQUIRE*, NEW YORK MAGAZINE*, THE NEW YORKER* and POPULAR MECHANICS*.

Last year’s niche darling, GARDEN & GUN*, went home empty-handed, along with other more narrowly focused titles, losing out in the lifestyle category to an old stalwart with broad appeal, HOUSE BEAUTIFUL*.  And despite flagging popularity and sales, O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE* won for best women’s magazine.

Tech magazine IEEE SPECTRUM* snagged the thought leader award, VANITY FAIR*, thanks to writing by the late Christopher Hitchens, won for columns and commentary, and NEW YORK* magazine picked up two statues.

While we agree that awards are not particularly relevant, that doesn’t stop us from reading something into them, right?

The trend this year seemed to lean heavily towards establishment favorites and to reward mass appeal; a reversal from last year, when there were fewer New York-centric picks and niche was embraced as the new black.

But…awards really don’t mean anything…

Find a full list of winners and also-rans at www.magazine.org/asme/magazine_awards/nma2012/finalists.aspx

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