A Great Day for The Atlantic
The magazine won the top honor at the 2023 National Magazine Awards.
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Pardon the intrusion, but I am asserting my right (such as it is) as editor in chief to seize temporary control of The Atlantic Daily from Tom Nichols (who I imagine is secretly grateful for this hijacking) in order to share good news about our magazine. For the second year in a row, The Atlantic has been named winner of the National Magazine Award for General Excellence. This is the top honor awarded by the American Society of Magazine Editors, and it is quite a privilege to win, especially given the quality of our fellow finalists, which included, among others, New York magazine and The New York Times Magazine.
We received news of this win last night at a ceremony in Manhattan, a ceremony that very much resembled the Oscars, except for the almost total absence of glamor and complete (and somewhat surprising) absence of onstage slapping. Last year, when we won this same award, I assumed we wouldn’t win it again so quickly, but my generally excellent colleagues at The Atlantic have kept producing stellar journalism at such a ferocious pace as to make us unignorable.
I’ll say a bit more about this award, and what it means for The Atlantic and its readers, in a moment. But first, please take a look at some of the stories we’ve published in recent days, stories that make me proud to work here:
Notes From Last Night
As some of you know, The Atlantic has been been on a bit of a sprint lately: We’ve more than doubled our number of subscribers over the past five years, and we recently won our first-ever Pulitzer Prizes: In 2021, for Ed Yong’s definitive coverage of the pandemic, and last year, for Jennifer Senior’s mesmerizing story about the aftermath of 9/11. Jen won the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing for that cover story as well, and this year, she was again a finalist, for her devastatingly knowing profile of Steve Bannon. In fact, many of our writers were National Magazine Award finalists this year: Caitlin Dickerson’s magnificent and Herculean story uncovering the secret history of the Trump administration’s family-separation policy was a finalist in the Public Interest category; Clint Smith’s moving exploration of memory, slavery, and the Holocaust was a finalist in Columns and Essays; George Packer’s searing look at America’s abandonment of its Afghan allies was a finalist in Reporting; and Graeme Wood’s brilliant profile of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was a finalist in the Profile Writing category.
We also won the Best Print Illustration award for Sally Deng’s illustration for “My Escape From the Taliban,” by Bushra Seddique, and we were a finalist in the Best Digital Illustration category. As longtime readers of The Atlantic are aware, we have been known for many things over the years, but not especially for aesthetic excellence. This is a magazine, after all, that didn’t include photography for the first 100 years of its existence (because what’s the rush?). One more note from last night: Jerusalem Demsas, one of our young star writers, was named a winner of the ASME Next Award, for the most promising magazine journalists under 30. I have little doubt that Jerusalem will one day have my job, if my job hasn’t been outsourced to Skynet by the time she wants it.
It is gratifying, of course, to see Atlantic journalists receive so much recognition, but it is not particularly surprising. We realized a while ago that the way to differentiate The Atlantic in a very crowded field is to make stories only of the highest quality and ambition. We sometimes fall short of our objective, but not for lack of trying. My goal at The Atlantic is to build the greatest writers’ collective in the English language, and to surround these writers with the very best editors, artists, designers, and fact-checkers. This goal is not an end in itself. Only by gathering together the best journalists in America can we fulfill our historic mission: To illuminate and inspire; to hold the powerful to account; to stand for the belief that the American idea is worth saving and refining; and to be, in the words of our founding manifesto, “of no party or clique,” to be independent in mind and spirit.
Tomorrow, Tom Nichols will be back (and may very well mock my “climb ev’ry mountain” rhetoric, which is his right), so let me thank our most loyal readers for their support, without which we could not pursue the sort of excellence embodied by our brilliant team of journalists.
Read our finalist stories:
- The Manhattan grand jury hearing the hush-money case involving Donald Trump will reportedly break for two weeks in April, which will push back the possible indictment of the former president.
- Financial regulators testified before the House Financial Services committee about the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.
- The Senate voted to repeal the 2002 resolution that approved the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 1991 resolution authorizing military force against Iraq in the first Gulf War. The bill now goes to the House.
- The Weekly Planet: The West agreed to pay climate reparations. That was the easy part, Emma Marris writes.
- Up for Debate: Conor Friedersdorf looks to cosmic events to process the unfathomable.
Explore all of our newsletters here.
By Clint Smith
the gun heard the first shot /
the gun thought it was a bursting pipe /
the gun heard the second shot and the third /
and the fourth /
the gun realized this was not a pipe
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Isabel Fattal contributed to this newsletter.